By Christine Puza
With summer now long gone, our tans have faded and we’re back to pale winter skin. While some of us accept this and wait patiently for the rays to meet us again in June, many people cannot face this pale-skinned tragedy. The most common solution? Tanning beds of course.
With the majority of UV seekers being between 17 and 29 years of age, indoor tanning salons have popped up all over the place, especially around colleges. It would be hard to find a town that doesn’t have at least one tanning salon, as there are about 22,000 of them across America to feed the 28 million customers with that sun-kissed glow they crave. It’s easy to pay a mere $6-$10 for a fifteen minute vacation to paradise; but at what costs to our skin?
Many people use tanning beds solely for certain upcoming events—Maybe prom or an upcoming tropical vacation, while others use them daily. Occasional usage may seem harmless, but only ONE indoor tanning session increases your chances of getting melanoma by 20%. Only one session and you’re putting yourself at a huge risk of developing the most common and potentially deadly form of skin cancer!
Those who begin using tanning beds before the age of 30 have a 75% higher risk, and with the majority of tanners being in their 20’s, it’s time we as college students wake up and stop thinking we’re invincible.
Molly Genovese, a 22 year old student at Westfield State University, was a fan of indoor tanning during her high school days until she was informed by her doctor that a suspect freckle on her lip had to be removed.
Like many, Molly first stepped foot into a tanning salon in preparation for an upcoming cruise when she was 15 years old. She intended on only using the tanning beds for the base tan but after returning from vacation she fled to the tanning salon again in an attempt to keep her skin glowing.
“When I was going religiously, if [the salon] was open I was always tempted to go because I thought I was going to lose my tan. I was going at LEAST 4-5 days a week for 15-20 minute sessions.” Molly doesn’t recall ever using any SPF products at the salon. “I used accelerators, which unfortunately didn’t have sunscreen in them.”
When Molly was 20 years old she stepped out of her last tanning session and took a look in the mirror, looking at a face full of unfamiliar freckles; particularly one dark spot that sat on her bottom lip. Meeting with a doctor resulted in the removal of that freckle. Thankfully, it was no form of skin cancer. Many young people who use tanning beds aren’t so lucky.
“Laying in those tanning beds sure wasn’t worth getting my lip cut open and having stiches for everyone to see.” Molly advises young tan-seekers to turn to spray tans rather than the harmful UV beds. “There’s nothing a little bronzer can’t fix!”
We would all love some bronzed skin in the middle of winter and luckily there are plenty of safe ways to make this happen! Not all tanning sprays and lotions will result in an Oompa Loompa complexion. Molly’s tan-of-choice comes from any of the “Fake Bake” products. “I always get the results I’m looking for; a natural sun kissed look.”
Our generation needs to realize the danger we’re putting ourselves in by using tanning beds! If you wouldn’t pick up the habit of smoking cigarettes, then why would you begin using those UV ray cancer boxes? More and more people are turning to spray-tan methods. Hopefully soon enough tanning salons will be history.
Molly hopes that naïve teenage girls stop endangering their skin before they face a situation similar to hers or worse. “Girls can be so stubborn when it comes to this topic, and it might take a lot for them to stop. Take a look at all the people in the spotlight these days, they ALL have spray tans and they look flawless! Go watch videos about skin cancer patients, why would you even step foot in a tanning salon after that?”