How Healthy is Self Tanner For You?

Rachel Adler

So last week we went on a bit of a rant about just how dangerous tanning beds are. You guys know the risks: using tanning beds increase your risks of early onset basal cell carcinoma (the most common form of skin cancer) by 69 percent. Now, we’ve learned that some doctors don’t even like to tell their patients to use self-tanner, the perfectly harmless bottle tan as an alternative.

Why you ask? Apparently, they would rather women adjust to the fact that they don’t need to change their skin color rather than find an alternative form of action, to make sure the habit sticks. Reuters reported on a survey of 415 women at Emory University that found that 70 percent had tanned in the past year, and 50 percent had applied sunless tanning products, and 25 percent had used tanning beds.

While we do realize that women who are using self-tanner are definitely more likely to use other methods of tanning as well, 40 percent of those women said that the products made them intentionally decrease their time sitting out in the sun or in the tanning beds — so obviously in a way, these products are doing their jobs.

And, since we also do know that skin cancer is increasing at dangerous rates, with 70,000 people newly diagnosed and 9,000 deaths estimated in the last year, we would assume that doctors would want to be doing all that they could to get their patients out of tanning beds. We were teenagers once too — if being orange is what we wanted, no doctor was going to stop us!

Dr. Daniel Sheehan, who didn’t participate in the study, weighed in on the matter, saying that he disagreed with the black and white approach. “I don’t think that standpoint recognizes the reality that people really want a tanned appearance, and many of them are going to get it one way or another. We’re probably better off encouraging people to pursue a safe tan instead of a UV tan.”

We’d rather go the self-tanner route (obviously) and there are plenty of options nowadays to get a streak-free tan, sans cancer. What about you?


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