What You Don’t Know About Tanning


Skylar Cross

Swimmer Michelle Murray is in the sun daily, with notice effects of the sun’s UV rays.

Skylar Cross, Blog and Social Media Editor

Many people, particularly teenagers, skipped the education course on sun safety and are now left completely in the dark about how dangerous sun exposure actually is. Especially living in Florida, many of us like to go to the beach and soak up some rays.

In the moment it may seem like no big deal, however this is not the case. Prolonged sun exposure (without sunscreen) and tanning should not be embraced, even if the cast of Jersey Shore does it.

Ultraviolet light reveals the damage sun has caused to your skin.
Skylar Cross
Ultraviolet light reveals the damage sun has caused to your skin.

Amongst teenagers, many believe that tan appears far more attractive than fair skin, and are unwilling to “embrace the paste.” This causes many to desperately lay out either in the sun and under the lid of a tanning bed (and FYI, 10 minutes in a tanning bed is actually equivalent to at least four hours in the sun!). Tanning beds are not supposed to be used under any circumstance, ideally. Using a tanning bed can increase your chances of developing melanoma by 74%, but many people remain completely unaware of this reality.

“I honestly had no idea [tanning beds] were so dangerous,” said junior Jiana Bucci, “You see so much advertising for tanning salons, you just assume they must not be dangerous.”

And the ones that do know of the dangers think “Well I might not get it anyways,” and outweigh the drawbacks of possibly getting skin cancer with the benefits having a nice gold glow. Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old, and sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent (which is why sunscreen is so important). Getting melanoma is not as uncommon as many believe.

Another thing that people don’t know is you don’t need the sun to get a bronze tint to your skin.  There’s many alternatives to getting tanned skin without all the harmful UV rays.

  • Spray tans. Spray tans are a fast, convenient, and inexpensive way to get color without all the damage that accompanies tanning. On average only costing between $10-$25, spray tans only take about 10-15 minutes out of your day.
  • Bronzers. Using bronzers (either liquid or powder) can give you that summer glow. There’s bronzers that fit all budgets, some can be purchased for as little as $3 and can reach up to $30 at places such as Sephora.
  • Self-tanning gels and lotions. Applying gels and lotions can give you the tan you’re seeking without all the sun damage. It’s as simple as applying any ordinary lotion. Products can be purchased just about anywhere (Walmart, Target, Publix, etc) and prices range from about $7-$22.

In addition to avoiding intentional sun exposure, it is important to avoid accidental as well. Applying sunscreen about 20 minutes before heading out into the sun is ideal. Daily sunscreen use cuts the risk of getting melanoma in half and protects you from sunburns and harmful UV ray exposure. Look for a sunscreen that has Zinc or Titanium and an SPF of 30+.

These alternatives may seem like a lot of work, and an extreme change to your lifestyle. However, in the long run it will all pay off in avoiding being diagnosed with melanoma, or any skin cancer for that matter.