The dark side of tanning

Chad Dryden Published:

By Anna Springer

Theodore Roosevelt High School

He is a golden god. She is such a bronze beauty. Beauty has once again turned toward cosmetics and externals. Caramel complexions have become the symbol of athletic, healthy people. But what are people willing to risk for sun-ripened skin?

Within the past few years, many new and somewhat abstract concoctions have been created for the sole purpose of improving ones skin tone. Many, if not most, are not Federal Drug Administration approved and almost none of them are recommended by the FDA or the American Academy of Dermatology. But some people are willing to do almost anything to achieve that perfect look.

Tanning pills

Tanning pills are relatively new products that promise to accelerate tanning and reduce risks of cancer at the same time. The FDA, however, said this is entirely untrue.

Tanning accelerators are actually unapproved drugs, the FDA said in Tanning Accelerators, a report published last May. Although their contents are approved as color additive for foods, they are not altogether safe for consumption by humans.

The pills, taken orally, deposit color in all areas of the body, not just the skin. This can cause intestinal problems as well as the discoloration of the eye retina. No data proves that they work; in fact, at least one study performed by the AAD has found them ineffective.

Because the pills are relatively new and somewhat expensive, they are not widely used or known among high school students.

Sunless tanners

Sunless tanners and bronzers are simply dyes for the skin. They come in forms such as lotions and makeup. Probably the safest way to get a tan, this methods results are the least harmful. On the other hand, their effects are short lived.

The lotions can be good to use, but I usually only use them until I can get a real tan, sophomore Katie Lentz said.

Most lotions have to be applied two to three times a week, depending on the desired shade. Also, the results are sometimes below par. Streaking, unevenness, small rashes and an orange-ish color are the most common complaints.

I used a lotion last spring break so it would look as if I went somewhere, junior Kathy Mohan said. I made the mistake of not waiting long enough between coats so it ended up a lot darker than I expected.

Indoor tanning

The most well-known tanning method besides the traditional natural sunlight is indoor tanning. This is a process in which a person lays in a clam-shaped bed with sun-imitating lights surrounding them. Many people enjoy the chance to relax in the lights and others feel that the light is good for their well being, not just their skin.

It is really relaxing, sophomore Stephanie Rericha said.

While tanning beds are less likely to burn a user than natural sunlight, they are just as dangerous. They can cause melanoma and immune system damage. On top of that, too much sun natural or otherwise can cause problems such as premature wrinkling, skin rashes, eye damage and leathery or blotchy skin. In general, tanning can make a person look as if he or she is 60 years old while still in their 40s.

It looks good at the time, but as you get older it will make you look worse. If you stay in the shade and moderate how much such you get, you will look younger longer, English teacher Heidi Cowan said.

So while relaxation and a glowing tan may be something people aspire to attain in the present, before subjecting themselves to health problems, they should consider if the future wrinkles and premature aging are worth it.

Reprinted from The Colonel.

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