Tanning Without Goggles – Is It Really That Bad?

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Is it really that bad to go tanning without goggles?

If you’ve ever quickly taken your UV goggles off and snuck them into your bag before you lay in a sunbed, you’ve probably asked yourself that question.

I mean, is it really necessary to wear those uncomfortable goggles? Do they actually do anything? And what happens if you don’t wear them?

I’m going to answer all of your tanning goggles questions, so keep reading.

Is it OK to tan without goggles? No, it is not safe to tan without goggles. UV rays – like those emitted from tanning beds – are damaging to your eyes and can cause long-term side effects, including cancer and the formation of cataracts.

I understand that it may be tempting to take off your tanning goggles every now and then. And surely one or two times doesn’t matter, does it?

Unfortunately, it does matter. The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that tanning beds can expose you to up to 100 times the UV rays that you would get from the sun. (1)

This means that you are greatly increasing your risk of eye damage, even from just one goggle-less tanning bed session.

Can You Tan Without Goggles if You Close Your Eyes?

No – closing your eyes does not prevent UV rays from potentially damaging your eyes. You also run the risk of burning your eyelids.

Your eyelid skin is the thinnest skin on your entire body – it’s so thin that light can penetrate through it. That’s why you can still see light from the tanning bed even when your eyes are closed.

Our eyelids do a great job of protecting our eyes from daily irritants, like dust. But they weren’t designed to be exposed to the extreme levels of UV rays that come from a tanning bed. But UV goggles were designed for exactly that.

Think about it like this – you wouldn’t go outside and spend 30 minutes staring directly into the midday sun, would you? That would be silly, dangerous, and painful.

And now consider that a tanning bed exposes you to up to 100 times the UV rays of the sun. Makes sense why you should wear those goggles, doesn’t it?

How Can I Tan Without Goggle Lines?

Ah, the dreaded goggle lines (or “raccoon eyes” as some people prefer to call them.)

Avoiding goggle lines is probably the main reason why people are tempted to go tanning without goggles.

So how do you avoid goggle lines while staying safe and protecting your eyes?

After working in a tanning salon for years, I have a few tips up my sleeve on how to avoid goggle lines.

  • Buy Wink Ease – this is the #1 best way to avoid goggle lines from both tanning beds and spray tans. Wink Ease have no straps or nose bridge – instead, they mold over your eyelids. You can still see perfectly fine and they provide 100% UVA and UVA protection. You can get a 50-pack here for fairly cheap.
  • Adjust Your Goggles – another tip to avoid racoon eyes is to adjust the position of your goggles every so often. Make sure they are always covering your eyes, but just move them very slightly up, down or to the side to avoid exposing one part of your skin for too long.
  • Rotate Different Brands – different brands of goggles will have different fits, so rotating them out for each tan will help ensure that different areas the skin around your eyes is covered.

Final Thoughts

As tempting as it may be to ditch the goggles, you should never lay in a tanning bed without proper protective eyewear. If you do, you run the risk of severely burning your eyes and eyelids and increase your risks of cancer and cataracts.

If you want to avoid raccoon eyes, implement my tips above (and definitely grab yourself a pack of Wink Ease!)


  1. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/indoor-tanning-eye-safety

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