Despite being located in the American Midwest, Ohio State is overflowing with bronzed beauties. At first, one might wonder how OSU students keep their golden glow year-round, but really the answer is simple: tanning beds. While we would all love to have glowing skin, the risks involved with sunless tanning make its worth debatable.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), “On an average day in the United States, more than 1 million people tan in tanning salons.” The AAD also said nearly 70 percent of those 1 million people will become 75 percent more susceptible to melanoma that day because they are less than 35 years old.
This doesn’t seem to stop the thousands of college students who trek to tanning salons on a regular basis. It’s clearly the business to be in. When I asked Jon Lucas, owner of Sunspot Tanning Salon in Portsmouth, Ohio, about his experience, he said since he and his wife purchased the salon, their business has “expanded and grown.” For unemployed avid tanners, Lucas said he hires from his clientele because “they like to tan” and can explain the process to prospective customers.
The tanners can tell you what bed would suit you best, but “tanning salons are not permitted to talk about the positive effects of tanning,” said Lucas, which leads to the question: are there any?
Exposure to UV radiation is said to help treat severe cases of psoriasis, rickets, eczema, vitiligo and lupus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, this type of radiation is done by a trained professional under the supervision of a dermatologist — not in the local tanning salon.
Lucas said customers say they “feel better” when tanning and that it “may eliminate the ‘winter blahs’ because of the lack of sunlight in the wintertime.”
Although this might be true, these “benefits” from tanning could easily be substituted with “benefits” from exercise, which releases endorphins that can put you in a better mood as well. You might not get a sun-kissed look, but you won’t risk skin cancer either.
If a perfect tan is what you’re striving for, there are safer ways to get it. Spray tanning is FDA-approved and risk free. Lucas said, “The chemical that is used (DHA) reacts with the protein in the top layer of your skin to produce the appearance of a tan.” As of right now, this is the safest way to achieve a healthy glow.
It’s no secret tan skin is in. With the popularity of shows like “Jersey Shore,” the number of tanning salons will steadily grow. AAD states that in the U.S., tanning salons are getting to be comparable in number with the Starbucks and McDonald’s found on street corners of major U.S. cities.
Clearly, college students are not scared yet. However, time is running out for Americans to realize that a fake bake may last two weeks, but cancer can last a lifetime.