Let’s face it – most people look better with a tan. I know I do (at least I think I do). You know how dark clothes make you look thinner? Well, I think dark skin has the same effect.
I miss those days of not caring about my skin and getting as brown as wood from just playing outdoors. But now I’m a fanatic about covering my face. My daily moisturizer has a 30 SPF and when I sit by the pool or on the beach I wear a hat, sunglasses and usually sit under an umbrella. And I try to remember to reapply lotion every few hours. And you should too.
According dermatologist Casey Gallagher, MD, sun exposure, the
predominant source of ultraviolet radiation, is never healthy. “Based on recent reports, the International Agency for Cancer Research has elevated both ultraviolet radiation and tanning beds, which emit ultraviolet rays, to the highest level of cancer-causing agents,” Dr. Gallagher warns.
He says that while some people think of the sun as a good source of Vitamin D production, it’s much safer to take supplements. And when it comes to over the counter tanning products or spray tans — they pose no threats, unless you have an allergy to one of the ingredients.
Or an aversion to the smell. All sunless tanning products are made with DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which temporarily stains the skin surface and fades like a suntan does as skin cells are shed naturally. And they all have that stinky tanning solution smell, although some do a better job of masking it than others.
A tan, whether you get it on the beach, in a bed, or through incidental exposure, is bad news, any way you acquire it. Tans are caused by harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning lamps, and if you have one, you’ve sustained skin cell damage.
No matter what you may hear at tanning salons, the cumulative damage caused by UV radiation can lead to premature skin aging (wrinkles, lax skin, brown spots, and more), as well as skin cancer. In fact, indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.
Skin Cancer Kills
Tanning beds might as well be coffins. Oncologists now believe they are to blame for the alarming spike among young women in lethal melanoma cases—the second most common cancer in adults under 30. A big part of the problem: Many women think catching indoor rays is a harmless—or worse, healthy—part of their beauty routine
It was Tricia Thompson’s hairstylist who first spotted a dark brown mole behind her ear. “I didn’t think much of it,” says Tricia, who was 32 at the time. “I went to the dermatologist and she froze it off.” But a year later, the same hairstylist saw that the mole had grown back, and this time it was a greenish-blue color.Tricia made an appointment with a different dermatologist, who took a biopsy of the mole. It was melanoma, the most serious of all skin cancers. Best possible scenario: Tricia would end up with a disfiguring scar. Worst case: The melanoma would kill her.
“I worked at an indoor tanning salon in high school and college,” she says. “I tanned an average of two or three times a week from the time I was about 14 until I was 21. I remember there was a waiver everyone had to sign, but that was just protocol. Nobody ever sat down to talk about the dangers of indoor tanning so I didn’t really think about them.
“And then I was 34, thinking, Who’s going to take care of my dog? Should I sell my house so my family doesn’t have to worry about things if I don’t make it through this?”Tricia had surgery to remove the melanoma—and the top quarter of her ear—a couple of weeks after her diagnosis. Her doctor did reconstructive surgery to replace the part of her ear he had to remove, but at her six-month follow-up appointment, the melanoma had returned. She had to have another surgery, this time to remove about a third of her earlobe.Becky Kocon was just 23 when she was diagnosed with melanoma after she spotted an irregular mole behind her knee. “I started going to tanning salons with my mom when I was 17,” says Becky, who’s now 27. “When I got to college, I’d go two or three times a week. I knew tanning wasn’t good for me, but I didn’t think I’d get cancer. At least not in my twenties.”
According to a recent Mayo Clinic study, the incidence of melanoma has increased eightfold among women ages 18 to 39 since 1970. “Melanoma is a new epidemic in young women,” says Jerry Brewer, M.D., a Mayo Clinic dermatologic surgeon and author of the study, who admits even he was shocked by these findings. “Other studies have shown an increase, but this study found melanoma occurring in women 705 percent more often. It’s astounding.”
The usual suspects are partly to blame for the scary rise in this deadly disease among twenty-and thirty-something women, including the disappearing ozone layer and the fact that we’re still getting sunburns, even though we should know better. (In fact, recent research found that half of all adults and 66 percent of whites ages 18 to 29 report they had at least one sunburn in the past year.) But because these factors affect women and men alike, and the rise in melanoma diagnoses are in young women, doctors are starting to believe indoor tanning—which can raise a person’s risk for melanoma 75 percent—is a key reason the disease has become an epidemic.
“It’s significant that melanoma is on the rise in the same group of people who use indoor tanning beds more than anyone else,” says Deborah Sarnoff, M.D., a dermatologist in Manhattan and Greenvale, New York, and senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation. The numbers are striking: Thirty-two percent of white women ages 18 to 21 and 30 percent of white women ages 22 to 25 say they use indoor tanning beds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And a 2012 survey found the same has been true for almost 40 percent of college students.
“If we can change the behavior of young women and get them to stop tanning, the curve of the incidence of melanoma would change,” says Brewer.
We all love a good tan… some states more than others. We’ve ranked the top 15 tannest states in the U.S. with the tannest people based on Tanning Bay’s self tanner sales… some of them may surprise you!
Does your state rank in the top 15?
You may be surprised to see two of the sunniest states at the top of the list. But just like the other states who made our list, California and Florida residents know that the only safe tan is a Moisture Tan Pro Self Tanner & Bronzer!
The sun. We wouldn’t have this beautiful world of ours without it, would we? The sun’s light and energy give us the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the weather and the seasons we enjoy. But it can also bring drought, famine and destroy fields, farms and forests. Our human bodies have had a similar “love/hate” relationship with the sun and its rays for as long was we’ve been on the planet. Basically, a little sun = good. Too much = bad.
Vitamin D — essential for bone health and key to our muscle, nerve and immune system functions; but 15 minutes a day of exposure is all that our bodies need to keep production at a healthy level
Mood enhancer — many people suffer from seasonal depression and low energy; doctors recommend increased exposure to natural light as the best cure
Better sleep — exposure to sunlight first thing in the morning is a proven way to wake up the body and mind (and to keep the body’s natural sleep rhythms on track for improved night-time sleep)
Tan lines — purely an aesthetic complaint — but who hasn’t stressed over how your tan lines don’t match up with the lines of your new sundress; or realized how goofy your “farmer’s tan” looks just as you take off your shirt to impress your new girlfriend with your beach volleyball moves?
Freckles — sure Grandpa called them “angel kisses” and sure, some people look great with them. But for me, they lost their charm as soon as my middle school friends started pointing out how much I look like the “Wendy’s” girl. Or when I noticed that the freckles surrounding my lip make for a not-so-great moustache.
Age spots, sun damage and wrinkles — just one more thing making you look way older than you actually feel….
too much unprotected time in the sun can quickly cause severe sun burn and/or dehydration and heat stroke
Skin cancer — this sobering fact from the American Academy of Dermatology: “On average, one American dies from melanoma [skin cancer] every hour. In 2015, it is estimated that 9,940 deaths will be attributed to melanoma — 6,640 men and 3,300 women”And this fact on tanning from skincancer.org: “More people develop skin cancer because of tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking”
Practice Safe Sun Exposure
So although the sun has it’s pluses and minuses. It’s always best to practice safe sun exposure – always apply sunscreen and limit your time in the sun, especially during peak hours.
Instead of dealing with embarrassing tan lines and painful sunburns… next time pick up a bottle of Moisture tan self tanning lotion. Voted the best self tanner… and best way to get a natural looking tan without the burn!