False tanning methods radiate dangerous skin problems

Local places like Texas Tan and Palm Beach Tan offer tanning services that are popular with students. Lexus DeLoach photo.

Kara Adkins
Staff Writer

To escape the winter season, many girls at Coppell High School are turning to tanning beds in order to get that desired summer glow. However, the price of beauty, in this case, is very steep.

Although many tan to look and feel better about themselves, there are serious health concerns with tanning.

Tanning machines omit ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer. If one tans frequently, it is even possible for them to receive up to 12 times the UV radiation they would receive from normal sun exposure.  With that said, teens still take the health risks as a grain of salt.

“I just feel like I should always be tan. You glow and have more color when you’re tan,” junior Ardelle Curran said. “I don’t think I am actually going to get skin cancer from tanning — I wear tanning lotion when I am in the bed.”

It is true tanning lotions can be effective, but not necessarily for reasons associated with health. Tanning lotion is usually used to either moisturize the skin or cooling it down to prevent burns, but it doesn’t change the fact you are being exposed to dangerous rays. Although tanning lotion might help your skin look flawless, it doesn’t always keep you protected.

The negative effects of tanning indoors are often times irreversible and permanent. When teenagers use the tanning bed they are pre-maturing their skin’s aging process. According to Skincancer.org, tanning causes “wrinkles, deep grooves, blotchiness, sagging and a leathery texture”. Even more alarming: these effects can appear as young as the age of 20 for anybody who uses the tanning bed on a regular basis during their teen years.

“Artificial UV Rays are even worse than sunlight” skin specialist, Lauren Bladd said. “It can cause skin cancer, premature aging, and other possible skin conditions”

Frequent tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma. There must be a reason that, despite all of the frightening results that can occur from indoor tanning, so many teenagers still insist on taking part in it.

“Having color to your skin is more attractive than being pale and white,” junior Lauren Gurevitz said. “Nobody tans for themselves — they do it for their appearance in front of everybody else. I wouldn’t tan in order to just look at myself; I would do it to make everybody else view me as pretty.”

It is Texas Law that tanning is banned for those under the age of 16 and a half, and parental permission must be granted for anybody under the age of 18. Tanners must also limit their time in the tanning bed to the manufacturer’s maximum exposure recommendation and wear required eye protection. Even with all of these precautions, many organizations believe there must be more done to keep people safe.

On July 1, 2010, the new federal law passed a 10 percent tax on individuals who use tanning salons. The Skin Cancer Foundation believes this is the best way to keep people away from the tanning beds. They found that, for every 10 percent price increase on cigarettes, the consumption drops by three to four percent. The foundation hopes this tax will have the same effect on tanning salons.

With over one million Americans using tanning salons on an average day, many believe there are true benefits to tanning. But for many young women who believe being tan is what makes others find them beautiful, they could be mistaken.

“It really just looks fake and gross,” junior Gabe Romero said. “There is nothing natural about it and you can usually tell when a girl uses the tanning bed.”