Tanning Bed
Tanning beds like this one are used in stores like Palm Beach Tan in Frederick. State law recently banned people under 18 from using tanning beds. Courtesy Photo.

Maryland Bans Minors From Tanning Beds

On Oct. 1 a new law took effect in the state of Maryland. It is now unlawful for tanning facilities to allow anyone under the age of 18 to tan under sunlamps, booths, and beds. Although minors will still have the option to spray tan, this is a shock to the local tanning industry.

“I’m not happy about the law being changed,” said Madison Reilly, a store manager at Palm Beach Tan in Frederick. “Mostly because it’s taking away a lot of business, but also because tanning can help a lot of things like acne, and other skin conditions.”

Before this law took effect, minors could not tan on their own. Parental consent has been required for a minor to spray or bed tan. A signed form written by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was needed before any tanning took place.

This required the tanning salon to have proper identification from the parent/legal guardian, dated signatures and signature from the salon consultant along with store address. Some stores also have their own consent and waiver form signed by parents and minors to make sure they follow the rules, recommendations, and regulations.

“Most customers are very unhappy [about the new law],” Reilly said. “They feel their right to decide what’s best for their children has been taken away.”

“Some customers are all for it,” said Beka Rodriguez, a tanning consultant who also works at Palm Beach Tan. “Of course, the actual teenagers it’s affecting are mad about it and so are their moms that come and tan.”

Tanning salons and tanning booths have a negative connotation. Tanning can lead to early aging, eye damage and can increase the chances of skin cancer. However, major tanning corporations such as Palm Beach Tan have rules to make tanning as safe as possible. 

Twenty-four hour rules are set in place so that a tanning customer cannot tan more than once in a day. Tan times are limited, while new customers are restricted to half of the maximum time in the tanning beds and are only allowed to increase their time by 1 or 2 minutes per session. 

Sanitized goggles are provided to customers for free to protect the eyes from ultraviolet damage. Skin care products are also offered, including body, facial, and leg lotions to keep the skin moisturized. The lotions are high-end and are made specifically for tanning salons, and include vitamins, anti-aging serums, and toning and tightening ingredients.

Even with regulations, tanning can still increase your chances of skin problems and it is highly recommended that clients get constant check-ups and evaluations from their doctors. “Honestly if my son or daughter wanted to come tan at a young age, I would say no,” Rodriguez said.

With all that being said, some under-age tanners use tanning beds to help with seasonal affective disorder, severe acne, and other skin conditions that UV light helps. “I think this whole ban is a bad idea, mostly because there are reasons other than to be tan that minors come in to lay under UV beds. It’s not stopping a habit from being formed, it’s just delaying it,” Reilly said.

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