Taking a closer look at tanningAs the season of swimsuits, senior parties and summer getaways quickly approaches, many people are turning to tanning beds to get a fresh golden glow.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
As the season of swimsuits, senior parties and summer getaways quickly approaches, many people are turning to tanning beds to get a fresh golden glow.
But local Get Tan salon owner Kari Bennis said there’s much more to the beds than a few confidence-boosting light bulbs.
“I don’t think that people tan just because of proms and vacations. And certainly not just for vanity,” she said.
In fact, many people come to her salon for health reasons, Bennis added, citing vitamin D deficiencies, psoriasis, eczema and seasonal affective disorder.
Regardless of the reason, local medical health professionals are advising avid tanners to steer clear of the salons and stick to the SPF instead.
Kristi Kajewski, a family practice doctor at Fairview Red Wing Medical Center, said ultraviolet rays are harmful whether coming directly from the sun or from an artificial source.
“I think the bulbs in a tanning bed are usually stronger than the sun is, but overall they’re both dangerous,” Kajewski said.
In order to provide protection for your skin, Kajewski said sunscreen is a must. A sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 will block out 97 percent of UV rays and anything higher sits in the 98 to 99 percent range.
What’s more important, however, is the reapplication. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, sunscreen should be applied every two hours that a person spends outdoors, even on cloudy days.
The AAD also recommends the avoidance of tanning beds, noting that the UV rays have potential to cause skin cancer as well as wrinkling. Even if a person intends to use a tanning bed just enough to get a base tan in hopes of not burning, Kajewski said they aren’t doing themselves any favors.
“They’re both skin damage either way. Whether it’s brown or red, any time your skin changes pigment that means the melanin is active and if the melanin is active that’s a precursor to getting melanoma,” she explained.
Bennis disagrees with potential concerns surrounding tanning and said there are some public health officials who are changing their minds about the activity.
“Doctors are now kind of rethinking their advice about sun exposure, encouraging moderation instead of abstinence,” Bennis said. “I’m saying it’s all pro, pro, pro.”
Kajewski said she doesn’t recommend tanning in her practice and discourages people from even the smallest amount of tanning bed usage, explaining how the damages from it are cumulative — similar to that of sugar on a person’s teeth.
“You don’t get a cavity today from eating a Hershey’s bar, you get a cavity from eating Hershey’s bars for years,” she said. “It’s the same thing with the sun. If you continue to expose yourself to UV rays throughout time you’re just increasing your risk with each exposure.”
If a paper white appearance just isn’t how you want people to see you this summer, Kajewski recommends the use of sunless tanners. Coming in a wide variety of lotions, gels, sprays, foams, creams and towelettes, sunless tanners offer a short-term tan without the exposure to UVA and UVB rays. Those types of tanners often have the potential to create streaks and uneven color, which may drive people to forgo the extra effort and turn to a tanning bed instead.
Although a majority of the country has laws in place to control tanning, Minnesota is one of a few states that does not, Bennis said.
“So there are no regulations on age, no regulations on how many times you can go, no regulations on anything. That’s just up to the owner,” she explained.
At Get Tan in Red Wing, people are permitted to use the tanning beds once a day. They also have the option of spray tans.