Tanning: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Story by Allison Lindsey
Photo by Anne Langan

Bronze, beautiful skin is a look some are blessed with and some don’t care about possessing, while others try their hardest to obtain a year-round summer glow. Although a darker skin tone is utterly flawless, ways to approaching this look can be dangerous.

According to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, melanoma is the second most common cancer in women between 20 and 29 years of age. That’s a scary statistic – especially considering many of us at Central Michigan University are among those ages.

Our Twitter poll, however, suggests that 58 percent of CMU students polled choose not to tan at all.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-7-07-29-pmThis is great news, but sometimes we still can’t avoid the sun’s harmful rays.

Tanning by the Numbers
All tanning salons choose to divvy up pricing differently. Some choose to sell an amount of minutes and let you decide how to split those up until you run out. Other salons separate their pricing by time periods, typically monthly.

If you like to spread out your tanning sessions over a long period of time, the minutes method would probably work best for you. If you’re trying to cram in some tanning dates before a vacation or event, the monthly method may be your cup of tea.

The Harm it Does
Huge disclaimer – tanning is bad for you. When using a tanning bed, you’re a little piece of bacon being fried to a crisp on a hot skillet. There is no way of achieving a completely safe tan, however, we have compiled some steps you can take to make your tanning experience a bit safer.

Ways to Safely Tan

  1. Break up tanning sessions.
    Everybody’s skin produces melanin, aka, dark pigment. There does comes a point while lounging in the sun when your skin simply won’t produce any more melanin. Basically, you’re harming your skin for no reason.To avoid this, tan for small periods of time. This way you’re not burning yourself to a  crisp to achieve a quick bronze-up.
  2. Use lotion.
    It’s a known fact that when tanning (outside or tanning bed), lotion is essential. This hydrates our skin which helps us tan quicker. However, what we’re looking to do is be kind our skin.Dermatologists recommend supplements, specifically 25g beta-carotene. This supplement accelerates your skin’s natural resistance to UV rays. Because of this, it helps improve your skins ability to absorb a tan – so you don’t have to be out for as much time.
  3. Achieve a sunless tan.
    Of course, there’s an alternative that is 100 percent harmless: the faux glow. Avoid the risk of contracting melanoma or wrinkly skin by ditching the tanning bed.All tanning places in the area offer spray tans. With spray tanning, you pay similar prices to a normal month of bed tanning, but the tan is instant, and your skin remains healthy.
  4. Try an at-home tanning lotion.
    If spray tanning isn’t your thing, try bronzing lotion. This way you can apply it when you’re relaxing at home on your own time, you can alter the results by stopping when you’re content with your color. Not to mention – it’s cheap! Jergens Natural Glow is a great option, and you can purchase it at just about any drug store.

Accepting Your Naturally Beautiful Skin
Although there are ways to darken your skin that don’t involve skin damaging measures, maybe sometimes it’s best to just learn to love your natural skin tone. Everyone has a unique shade of skin – accept yours.

Your skin tone, just like your eye or hair color, is a little piece of what makes you, you. However, if you do decide to darken your skin a bit for winter, be sure to take safe measures to treat your skin with love.