It used to be a sign of status to have pale skin. As a matter of fact, those that had dark tans were typically working-class people. Somewhere along the line that all changed. Around the 1920’s it became increasingly popular to have a tan instead of fair skin. A contributing factor could’ve been the promotion of supposed health benefits that came with having tan skin. More and more people started working indoors, which lead to lighter complexions and a desire to tan. With time, indoor tanning facilities began popping up all over the country. Now, there are some states that have more tanning salons than they do McDonald’s restaurants. However, these days people are more aware than ever about the link between tanning and cancer.


The Revelation

Interestingly, the very first tanning bed was made by a German scientist in 1970. In fact, he was studying the effects of UV light on athletes, and their skin turned a perfectly bronze color. Not only can UV radiation make you look good, but it feels good too. Perhaps this is why so many people continue to visit tanning salons on a regular basis despite the risks. It wasn’t until recently that there was any concrete proof that exposure to UV light can lead to skin cancer. We now know that tanning beds are the cause of around 400,000 cases of skin cancer. Out of that astronomical number, about 6,000 were found to be melanoma which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Finally, the seriousness of indoor tanning and cancer is becoming known. As a result, many tanning salons have become strict when it comes to minors. Many require permission from a parent or just flat out will not let minors tan. In addition, Obama’s health care law put a 10 percent tax on tanning salons across the country. Even with all these regulations, tanning remains a huge problem among younger generations. It seems the desire to fit in is greater than preventing skin cancer down the road. Even so, there are preventative measures that anyone can take when tanning.

Being Responsible Can be Cool

There are ways to get that golden skin tone without sacrificing your health. First of all, be aware of your skin type. If you have skin on the paler side, you probably only want to tan for a few minutes. Also, tanning for short sessions and building up the color you want over time is better than one session for a long time. Longer sessions could lead to getting burned and more skin damage. Be sure to apply professional tanning lotions before and after you tan. These don’t protect against harmful UV rays, but they will keep your skin moisturized. Additionally, always wear protective eyewear which is usually provided by tanning salons. Lastly, have regular checkups with your doctor and have moles and spots checked.
A great alternative to conventional tanning is a spray tan. With skin cancer on the rise, you can still be a bronzed goddess without the risks. There are more products on the market like tanning lotions or cremes that can help you reach your desired skin tone. Not all of these products are the easiest to use, but none of them lead to skin cancer like UV rays.

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