Welcome to summer – time for fun in the sun, relaxation by the pool or at the beach. Fresh air. You get the idea. Since one major summer goal for many is getting that golden hue called a tan, this seemed like a good time to talk about tanning beds, and to touch on safe ways to get a sun kissed glow if that is what you want.
Tanning Bed Definition: “A box you lay down in that helps you get wrinkles faster. AKA: Cancer Casket” Urban Dictionary
A little negative, I know, but I am thinking that got you to pay attention. Now that you are, I want to take a few minutes to give you some Real Talk about Tanning Bed Myths. Turns out that 13% of high school students, and 1/5 of high school girls use tanning beds (WHAT?!?!? Really?). Clearly we need to talk about this.
1: Do you believe that tanning beds are safer than actual tanning in the sun? I mean, really, they look so medical and sterile – they have to be safe!
- Sadly no. Ultraviolet light (UV rays), regardless of the source, sun, tanning beds, sunlamps, etc is what is dangerous. It changes the DNA in your skin to a damaged form that leads to cancer. That’s why we are always barking at you guys to put on that sunscreen!
- Um, back to the part about UV rays causing cancer. Actually tanning beds cause all sorts of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. In fact, indoor tanning is thought to cause more cases of skin cancer each year than smoking tobacco causes lung cancer. This is not just a scare tactic. There are all sorts of stories about young women in their early 20s who are found to have melanoma…. Even if this deadly form of skin cancer is cured for them, they often have to have so much skin around the melanoma removed that it can be disfiguring. Meaning changes the way you look. Melanoma is the most fatal (deadly) form of skin cancer, and tanning beds increase the risk 75%. And melanoma rates overall have gone up 50% in the past 30 years (meaning since I was your age). So this is for real. Check out this picture:
- Back to wrinkles and sun damage – look at this photo comparison of 2 twins. One smoked and sunbathed for 30 years. The other didn’t. Guess which is which. Who looks healthier to you?
4. Now you say, "That base tan actually PROTECTS me against burning".
That’s actually an old wives’ tale. The tan is a sign that your skin is damaged. That wasn’t what we were taught when I was a kid, and when I found that out boy was I disappointed. I love relaxing in the sun. But I had to change my ways.
OK, so you love the look. What can you do? Drum roll please: SUNLESS TANNING! Yep, those creams and lotions! Afraid they’ll turn you orange? Here are a few tips:
Keeping it simple:
- Shower first and get the dead skin off – with a body scrub or exfoliant brush, or even just a wet washcloth!
- Dry off completely.
- You might want to put a little moisturizer on, especially on drier areas like elbows, ankles, etc that might pick up more of the tanner.
- Get ready to apply the cream or lotion. These are better than sprays because you have to be super careful not to get the mist in your eyes or mouth, on your lips, or to breathe it in – all of which are not good for you.
- Apply the cream or lotion with a sponge, or if you want to use your hands, slather your hands with lots of regular lotion first, and then use the tanner, and the right away wash your hands, especially under your nails so you don’t get crazy orange hands!
- Apply the lotion / cream in circles blending it together so that there are no edges. Or go up and down and side to side. Whatever pattern is easy for you to make sure there are no missed spots!
- Don’t put on near your eyes or your mouth.
- To keep the color longer – don’t rub after you shower – just pat your skin dry.
And remember – it does NOT protect you against the sun. It is just color on your skin. You still need that SPF 15 or greater. Every day. All the time.
sources: cdc govfda.govFactors Contributing to the Facial Aging of Identical Twins ; Bahman Guyuron, David J. Rowe, et al. Department of Plastic Surgery, University Hospitals Case Medical Center