Tanning not worth the risks

By Meghan Hurley
October 7, 2005

The pain is almost unbearable. The strong smell of aloe fills the air. My skin is sensitive to the lightest touch. Every time I try to move, I flinch in pain. Then I look in the mirror and smile because tomorrow this sunburn will fade into a fabulous tan.

I will be the first one to admit that I love getting tan during the summer and that I think that I look better with a tan. Being tan raises self-esteem and self-confidence levels, but there is a limit to how tan a person can be and for how long. Also, prolonged tanning involves too many risks, and those outweigh the need for an all-year tan.

During the summer, my sole purpose of going to the beach is to lie out in the sun and soak up as much as I possibly can. But that’s it. With the exception of special occasions, like proms or formals, faux, obsessive tanning is not necessary. Buying year-long memberships to tanning salons isn’t worth it. If you want to be tan, fine, but balance it. Tan during the spring and summer and give your skin a rest during the fall and winter.

The dangers of too much sun exposure and the ultraviolet radiation found in tanning equipment are well-known. There’s sunburn, skin dryness, rash and eye irritation. Then there’s the almighty risk, cancer. You always think, “It will never happen to me.” I have the same mindset. However, if I had skin cancer or someone else I was close to was affected from excessive tanning, obviously this article would be extremely different.

In the winter, those ever-brown people stick out in the crowds of the winter pale. It’s one thing to tan during the summer when the weather is right, but to make weekly visits to the tanning salon is overboard. It doesn’t look natural unless you naturally have a darker complexion. Plus, the extended exposure puts you at greater risk. Also, there are those people who develop the “leather skin,” which is probably one of the most unattractive things I have ever seen.

The tanning alternatives that I don’t think are ever a good idea are sunless tanning lotion and spray-on tans. While these are the most health conscientious ways of getting a tan, they never look good or real. The orange tint, the missed spots and the unevenness just don’t make it worthwhile. I guess it’s a toss up between looking good and being healthy and even though it’s a little bit shallow, I go for the looks. So, bring on the sun, in moderation, of course.

You could almost compare sunbathing or a trip to the tanning salon to smoking a cigarette. You know it’s bad, but it makes you feel so good. Tanning is my nicotine, but when summer ends, I go cold turkey until the next year.

Posted to the web by Tim Hague

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Meghan Hurley

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