SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- A solarium or collarium does not provide a safe tan.
- A solarium or collarium does not protect your skin from the sun.
- If you notice your skin starts to change colour (red, freckle, tan or deeper skin colouration) that’s a clear sign your body is trying to protect itself from UV radiation.
- Each time you expose your skin to UVradiation, either in the sun, a solarium or a collarium, you increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
- Overexposure to UV radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer and premature ageing.
- Commercial solariums and collariums are banned in Victoria.
What is a solarium?
A solarium is any tanning unit that uses ultraviolet (UV) radiation to tan the skin. Solariums are also known as sunbeds, sunlamps or tanning beds.
There is from a solarium. UV radiation from solariums increases your risk of developing . Solariums emit UV levels up to 6 times stronger than the midday summer sun. They can also cause eye damage and immediate skin damage, such as , irritation, redness and swelling.
A solarium tan does not protect your skin from the sun. If you have a solarium tan your skin can still be damaged by the sun's natural UV radiation.
Commercial solariums were banned in Victorian in 2015.
What is a collarium?
A collarium or collagen bed is similar to a solarium. It may also be promoted as red light therapy. Instead of the typical blue lights of a solarium, a collarium uses lamps emitting “red light” wavelengths (pink and red light) in addition to UVA and UVB radiation. It is claimed that these devices “stimulate collagen” while providing a tan.
The UVA radiation produced by a collarium does not stimulate collagen or elastin production but breaks it down and can cause more rapid skin-aging and skin cancer. A collarium does not provide a “safe” tan. If you notice your skin starts to change colour (what people often call a ‘tan’) that’s a clear sign your body is trying to protect itself from UV radiation. The UVB radiation emitted can cause sunburn, cataracts and skin cancer.
How UV affects your skin
Skin cells in the top layer of skin (epidermis) make a pigment called melanin. Melanin gives your skin its natural colour. When skin is exposed to UV radiation, it makes more melanin. This causes the skin to darken and tan. A tan is a sign that the skin has been damaged from UV radiation. It is not a sign of good health.
Tanning without burning can still cause skin damage, premature skin ageing and skin cancer. UV radiation can cause permanent DNA damage. A tan is equivalent to a sunscreen protection factor (SPF) of about 3. That’s a long way from the recommended SPF 50+ so UV damage still happens. Each time you expose your skin to UV radiation you increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
People of all skin types are at risk of skin damage, premature ageing and skin cancer. To get the best protection from UV radiation, use a hat, protective clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses and shade.
Solarium or tanning salon use in Australia
Due to the health risks, commercial tanning units were banned in Victoria in January 2015. This ban was the outcome of almost a decade of ongoing campaigning led by Cancer Council and partners. As a result of this work many Victorians have and will continue to be saved from the devastating effects that skin cancer has on people and their families.
Before the ban, it was estimated that each year in Australia, solarium use led to:
Commercial solarium operators are also banned in all other Australian states and territories.
To report the unlawful use of tanning units (solariums or collariums) for commercial purposes, or for further queries about solarium legislation in Victoria, contact the Department of Health’s Radiation Safety Team on Tel. (from 9am – 1pm, Monday – Friday) or email .
A solarium or collarium tan is not a safe tan
There is no such thing as a safe tan from a solarium or collarium. Using these devices does not provide a safe way to tan or protection from the sun. Solarium or collarium tans offer no protection against DNA damage to skin cells, which can occur without any visible signs of skin damage.
Research shows that using a solarium increases your risk of skin cancer. It also causes premature ageing of the skin. If you use a solarium, you have a 20% greater risk of melanoma than those who don't. This rises to a 59% greater risk of melanoma if you started using a solarium before you were 35 years of age compared to someone who has not used a solarium.
The risk of melanoma from solarium use also increases with more frequent use. The risk of developing other skin cancers is also increased. Using a solarium increases the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma by 29%, when compared to people who have never used a solarium.
Get to know your skin
If you have previously used a solarium or collarium, your risk of skin cancer will be higher. Get to know your skin and go to the doctor as soon as possible if you notice any new or unusual spots or changes to an existing spot. You may also want to talk to your doctor about developing a surveillance plan.