This is a great question. Sunbed acrylic shields are made of a petroleum-based synthetic polymer often used to replace glass when you need a clear, shatter-resistant, robust material. Acrylic is used in tanning beds to shield the tanner from the lamps because of the risk of possible injury from heat and breakage that lying on a bed of glass would pose.
Not all acrylic shields are created equally. Sunbed acrylics are designed to transmit roughly 90 percent of the UV emission and protect the tanner from heat burns. Remember, it’s this transparent surface that separates the body from the sunlamps. The acrylics you may find at your local hardware store are not transparent to ultraviolet rays and would not allow effective tanning.
Sunbed acrylics can be expensive and require special cleaning, care and maintenance. Because of acrylic’s porous nature, you want to use cleaning products designed for tanning beds that won’t scratch or leave an oily residue on the surface. For the same reason, you want to allow your salon guests to only use tanning lotions specifically formulated for indoor use.
Over time, as the UV rays pass through the acrylic, it causes a slight hardening of the material, called solarization, which starts to block more and more of the UV transmission. Also, the combination of perspiration, lotion residues and cleaning products can cause the acrylic to become cloudy. All of these factors can decrease the effectiveness of your tanning bed. And of course, a cracked shield should be replaced so that it doesn’t further damage the tanning unit or injure a tanner.
If you have re-lamped your tanning systems and your guests are complaining that they aren’t seeing any tanning results, it may be time to replace your acrylics. The best way to determine when to replace a shield is to take a UV meter reading with the shield removed and then again with the shield in place – be sure the meter is in the same position for both readings. If the difference is more than 20 percent, then it’s time to replace the shield.
As for frosted acrylics, these are great for camouflaging dirt build-up and lamp-end-darkening; but they do block a little more of the UV transmission. This is taken into account by the bed manufacturer if frosted acrylics were designed for use in your units.
has been with Wolff System since 1998. Her duties include training salon professionals on sunlamp products. She specializes in breaking down technical info into layman terms, so her lamp training is both informative and FUN! Questions or comments? Email email@example.com or call 800.959.6533, X112.
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