Safe Tanning

By Lisa Johnson

Now that we are on the downhill slide of winter, people are starting to make plans for spring breaks and even summer vacations. With the feeling of spring in the air, many people take to tanning beds or laying out in the sun to get that “Healthy Glow”. The problem is getting that “Healthy Glow” is becoming more and more dangerous.

Tanning is a major epidemic among teens and adults in the United States. Most people say that having color on their skin makes them feel more beautiful. Over 18% of women and 6.3% of men have tanned in the last 12 months, according to the Archives of Dermatology. Those numbers are still considered to be on the low side.

With advances in medical research the direct correlation between skin cancer and tanning has been proven. Skin cancer among tanners is jumping at an alarming rate and expected to continue to rise just as rapidly in the coming years. Studies have shown that over 90% of skin cancer is caused from UV exposure from tanning outdoors or in a tanning bed. An even more frightening statistic is that tanners that use indoor beds are 74% more likely to develop melanoma than people that do not tan. Now the only way to get a safe tan comes out of a bottle, tube, or machine.

During all the recent media attention of safety with tanning beds, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) made a ruling banning the Indoor Tanning Association from making misleading statements about the safety of using tanning beds. This also led to the large tax on the use of the indoor beds. Some states have even gone as far as to make it illegal to tan under 18 without a parent’s consent.

Due to the increasing rates of skin cancer many companies have developed “safe” ways to get that glow without risking one’s life. There are many products that promise a safe and easy tan that you can use in your own home or in a salon without any exposure to UV rays. The products used to safe tan are usually a cream, lotion, gel, liquid, a wipe, or even pills.

Most self -tanning products contain a chemical, dioxyhydroacetone (DHA), as the active ingredient. This causes a darkening of the stratum corneum, the outer most layer of the epidermis. This darkening is temporary until the dead skin cells are shed or sloughed off. Depending on how one exfoliates and takes care of their skin, most self- tanners are made to last only a few days per application. This is the case with lotions, creams, gels, and airbrush.

Sunless tanning pills are out on the market but not considered 100% safe according to the Mayo Clinic. Reactions are common after taking the pills due to high levels of a color additive called canthaxanthin. Many people have noticed abnormal skin coloring and hives. In extreme cases it can also lead to liver damage.

Many people feel that having a sunless tan is time consuming and too temporary. However, with the correct steps taken before and after, a sunless tan can last longer and be very quick and easy. By following a few quick steps, you can have a lasting, beautiful, safe tan year round.

1) Before you apply a tan make sure to exfoliate the area to be tanned thoroughly. You don’t want your tan to color the cells that are about to be sloughed off.
2) Make sure you have shaved areas that you normally shave before applying the tan.
3) Apply lotion to the areas you are applying your self-tanner to. Make sure all product is massaged into the skin before applying tanner.
4) Make sure to use a sunscreen along with your self-tanner.

For more information about sunless tanning call Clary Sage College at 918.298.8200, and be sure to follow The Skintourage on Twitter @theskintourage!