Indoor Tanning

Using a tanning bed, booth, sunbed, or sunlamp to darken your skin is called indoor tanning. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays while indoor tanning can cause skin cancer. Healthy PeopleExternal provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. Healthy People 2020 has two objectives regarding indoor tanning—

  • C-20.3: Reduce the proportion of adolescents in grades 9 through 12 who report using artificial sources of ultraviolet light for tanning.
  • C-20.4: Reduce the proportion of adults aged 18 and older who report using artificial sources of ultraviolet light for tanning.

Teens

Healthy People 2020 set a target to lower the proportion of adolescents who tan indoors to 14.0% by 2020. This target has already been surpassed substantially. As of 2017, 5.6% of teens reported using an indoor tanning device in the previous year. In 2009, 15.6% of adolescents reported tanning indoors in the last year.

Percentage of U.S. High School Students Who Reported Indoor Tanning in the Past Year

In regards to the percentage of teens who reported using an indoor tanning device in the previous year, 15.6 percent was reported in 2009, 13.3 percent in 2011, 12.8 percent in 2013, 7.3 percent in 2015, and 5.6 percent in 2017. In regards to the percentage of teenaged boys who reported using an indoor tanning device in the previous year, 6.7 percent was reported in 2009, 6.2 percent in 2011, 5.3 percent in 2013, 4 percent in 2015, and 3.5 percent in 2017. In regards to the percentage of teenaged girls who reported using an indoor tanning device in the previous year, 25.4 percent was reported in 2009, 20.9 percent in 2011, 20.2 percent in 2013, 10.6 percent in 2015, and 7.5 percent in 2017. The Healthy People 2020 target percentage is 14.0 percent.

Data source: 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Adults

The Healthy People 2020 target is to lower the proportion of adults who use indoor tanning devices to 3.6% by 2020. Adults who are 50 years old or older had already surpassed this target in 2010, and continued to do so in 2015. Younger adults moved toward the target, but had not met it in 2015. In 2010, 5.6% of adults reported tanning indoors in the last year.

Percentage of U.S. Adults Who Reported Indoor Tanning in the Past Year

In regards to the percentage of adults 18 to 29 years old who reported using an indoor tanning device in the previous year, 11.3 percent in 2010, 8.6 percent in 2013, and 6 percent in 2015. In regards to the percentage of adults 30 to 39 years old who reported using an indoor tanning device in the previous year, 5.9 percent in 2010, 5.5 percent in 2013, and 4.4 percent in 2015. In regards to the percentage of adults 40 to 49 years old who reported using an indoor tanning device in the previous year, 5.9 percent in 2010, 4.3 percent in 2013, and 3.8 percent in 2015. In regards to the percentage of adults 50 years old and over who reported using an indoor tanning device in the previous year, 2.1 percent in 2010, 1.5 percent in 2013, and 1.8 percent in 2015. The Healthy People 2020 target percentage is 3.6 percent.

Data source: Guy GP Jr, Watson M, Seidenberg AB, Hartman AM, Holman DM, Perna F. Trends in indoor tanning and its association with sunburn among US adults.External Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2017;76(6):1191–1193.

Page last reviewed: October 31, 2018