"Wow, you got tan!" Have you ever heard this after a vacation? If you have - you have sun/skin damage. Anytime you get a tan, that's what's really happening. You're damaging your skin.
And on some level, all of us know this. Even people who have a tanning addiction. We know that getting a tan is bad for us and can lead to skin cancer, wrinkles, sun spots, and other not nice effects.
But then, why do so many people still do it? Why do the tanning bed salons still exist? Why can't these people just stop?
It turns out, it has to do with that UV light that's in tanning beds. Learn more below.
What Are the Risks of Tanning?
70% of tanning customers are women and 40% of all teens (under 20) have used a tanning bed once or twice. It's obvious that tanning is a popular activity.
But by just going in a bed once, you up your risk of skin cancer. To understand that, you need to know how getting tan works.
When you get a tan, it's essentially a skin injury. Your body is trying to protect itself against the extra exposure, so it increases melanin product. It's like a form of a skin burn.
That skin cell damage can create cancer cells, or at least put up less of a fight against pre-existing ones. Cancer is an opportunist. If there's a weakness in your body, it's going to take advantage of it.
And by tanning, you just made your biggest organ (your skin) weaker.
A lot of tanning salons advertise themselves as "healthy" because their beds don't have the kind of UV rays that cause sunburns. Aka, UVB rays.
But the idea that UVB rays are the only harmful ones is outdated and untrue. We used to think that, yes - but now we have proof that UVA rays (ultraviolet A) are just as damaging.
Instead of just damaging the top level of the skin, which is what in-sun tanning does, these rays penetrate down deeper. That means they can damage more layers of skin, the ones you can't even see.
These deeply penetrating rays can even cause genetic damage. They're linked to the most intense and most deadly form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma.
Skin cancer is a tricky cancer. It's the most preventable cancer there is. But people take that to mean it's not that serious.
7,000 people die from skin cancer per year. Don't make yourself one of them.
If all that didn't get you thinking - let's talk some hard numbers. People who use tanning beds under the age of 35 increase their risk of getting skin cancer by 75%.
If something had a 3/4 chance of giving you cancer - would you do it? Of course not!
If there's a 75% chance of rain, you don't plan a trip to the beach that day. If there's a 75% of skin cancer, you shouldn't plan a trip to the tanning bed. It's that simple.
Why Do People Do It?
Let's assume that people who still tan know some of the risks, but not all of them. Why do they still pay the money for a membership and damage their skin, week after week?
Well, it turns out that those UVA rays in the tanning beds can be addictive. That's what people crave, even when they're not trying to get their skin any darker.
Have you ever sat in the sun and felt like it was warming your skin and your spirit? It leaves you in a good mood. The same is true for tanning beds.
Except, the UVB rays in sunlight aren't addictive. And some natural sun exposure (with sunscreen on) is good. You need vitamin D.
It's those tricky UVA rays, though, that keep people coming back for more tanning time.
A Cosmetic Addiction
Of course, there are the people who are so obsessed with their appearance, that they feel they have to maintain a certain level of tan. There are even (illegal) pills you can take that help you tan faster.
You can watch videos and mini-documentaries of them on Facebook or YouTube. Why? People think they're crazy, and crazy is entertaining.
But in their heads, those people have a serious self-esteem problem. Anyone who thinks they have to have this thing they weren't born with to look good, does.
Don't get us wrong, we have no problem with the idea that you try not to leave the house without mascara. But if you found out that wearing mascara gave you cancer and you didn't stop? Then you'd have a problem.
It's okay to want your skin to look a little darker, but it's not okay to put yourself at risk to get there. The solution is sunless tanner, creams, and sprays that make you look more tan than you are.
They're not perfect, but they're 100% better than the alternative.
Quitting a Tanning Addiction
If you think you have a tanning addiction, see a professional therapist. If you can't afford that, try to wean yourself off, by doing shorter sessions every time.
It's hard to break a habit, and it's even harder to break a tanning addiction. But you need to do it now - if you don't, you 're putting your health and happiness at risk.
Do you really want someone to tell your kids, 20 years down the line, that mommy died because she wanted to look tan?
No, you don't. So get tips on spray tanning here.