Yesterday on my way to class, I stopped to look around at the students buzzing by. After realizing that I had been staring at a sea of Northface fleece and black tights with Ugg boots, I also realized how orange most of these young ladies were. Some of them were platinum blonde with black eyebrows, and others had dark brown hair. Some wore brown boots and others wore gray, but the one thing most of them had in common was the tangerine hue of their skin. This complexion conundrum can only be caused by one culprit: The tanning bed.
I would be a total hypocrite if I acted like I had never sunned in a lawn chair or enjoyed a few sessions in my former apartment complex’s tanning booth, but I realized the dangers and grew to respect my peaches and cream complexion. Although it is true that everyone looks better with a little color in their skin. After all a tan makes you look thinner and hides imperfections. However, the long-term effects that tanning produces is not AT ALL worth the risk.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin aging and cancer are delayed effects that show up many years after the exposure. This is one reason why so many continue to tan at a younger age. They see the immediate effects, tan, glowing skin, and fail to realize that in a few years, they’ll be sporting some serious crow’s-feet. Not only has tanning been proven to age skin more rapidly, but the risk of skin cancer is no longer up for debate. If you tan excessively in the natural sunlight or indoor tanning salons, you will increase your risk of developing skin cancer. With these risks alone, I cannot see the appeal. Is looking good in your twenties worth having a face like Steven Tyler in your thirties?
Now that we’ve established the negative long-term effects of tanning, let’s examine the immediate effects that indoor tanning can produce. Since tanning beds and booths produce the same results as tanning for five to six hours outside, burning becomes a higher risk. In fact, most tanning salons will “warn” customers that the first few sessions may cause burning. This is not only a pain, literally, but makes people look generally ridiculous. You always know who was just at the tanning salon because of their reddish-orange skin. Why anyone would think this looks natural is beyond my comprehension. Not only does it make you look like a lobster, and later a traffic cone, but you run the risk of having your moles cut out of your skin if you develop melanoma. According to dermatology.org, “The number of moles on your body is the strongest indicator for the risk of developing a malignant melanoma.”
So let’s go through the excess tanning checklist one more time:
- skin cancer
- orange or red skin
- mole removal
- constantly smelling like burnt flesh
- looking like Freddy Krueger
If any of these things sound good to you, please visit your local tanning salon and buy a monthly package. If these don’t sound good to you, explore your tanning options, like tanning creams, spray tans, and bronzers. They do work and keep you and your skin safe. Always wear sunscreen and try to protect yourself at all times from the sun’s harmful UV rays!