Sun damages occurs during youth, protect your skin



Erika Greet, an employee of U-Tan, a tanning salon located near the University of Southen California in Los Angeles, California, demonstrates the workings of an Ergoline Excellence tanning bed. With the new year comes a new 10 percent tax on tanning beds using UV rays. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Katie Gruninger, Web Editor

With summer approaching, it is important to remember to take care of your skin while catching some rays. This being said, tanning outside naturally with sunscreen is a better choice than tanning in a tanning bed.

As spring and prom approached, tanning beds became the holy grail for high school girls, but laying in the bed for 15 minutes everyday can have many risky long term effects. There are also risks associated with laying out in the sun.

The long term impacts of a tanning bed outweigh the short terms by a lot. The first few times in the tanning bed will cause the skin to turn red for a few days, but it will eventually turn to a bronzed look. However, the long term effects can be much greater than the short term effects.

The more often a tanning bed is used, the higher the risk is for skin cancers, including melanoma. In fact, people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.  Another long term effect of the tanning bed is premature skin aging, which is not limited to wrinkles and dark spots. According the American Cancer Society, the number of skin cancer cases caused by tanning is now higher than the number of lung cancer cases caused by smoking. It’s not just tanning beds that will cause harm laying out in the sun without any sunscreen can also cause these effects.

When tanning at the beach or anywhere this summer it is important to wear sunscreen so long-term damage to your skin does not occur. Once the first burn of the season has passed, it’s often forgotten that even with a base tan it’s important to apply sunscreen all summer long. Twenty-three percent of sun damage happens by the age of 18, and 47 percent of sun damage occurs between the ages of 18-40. That means, that we need to apply sunscreen NOW to avoid the effects of sun damage in later years.

There are other alternatives to a tanning bed and tanning outside. Most drugstores and beauty stores, such as CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Ulta and Sephora, carry self-tanning products. These self tanners are healthier tanning solutions and help your skin get a gradual, natural looking tan.

Most tanning salons will also offer the choice of a spray tan. Spray tans are another safe option. A full body spray tan will usually run about $30 and last around a week. These can last longer when combined with over the counter self-tanning products.

It’s very important to think about the effects of tanning indoor and outdoor at a very young age. The Skin Cancer Foundation has recommended that people of all ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds take serious precautions when tanning outdoors between the times of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. because of how strong the UV rays are during this time a day.

When outside, use sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher. If you will be outside for an extended period of time, consider using SPF 30 or higher. Besides skin, wearing sunglasses and hats also helps with protection from the sun.

Although it’s not always taken seriously, wearing sunscreen and not visiting the tanning bed could be a life or death choice. Make sure to lather up and cover up this summer!