Tanning salons: healthy or harmful?

Amber Armstrong

Amber Armstrong

Ages aside, young and old alike indulge several times a week in tanning. People tan for different reasons and durations, but one thing seems the same: people tan because they want to look and feel better about themselves.

Tanning has several advantages. It can clear up minor cases of acne or boost a bad mood. It can also be a time to relax, a way to diminish the winter blues or improve self-esteem. Tanning can even aid in managing weight by stimulating the thyroid gland that boosts metabolism.

Year Round Brown, Inc. tanning specialist Andrea Hoogendoorn said, “Tanning makes people feel more confident and makes them look and feel better.”

SDSU student Justin VanderVorste started tanning for a trip, among other reasons.

“The girls like it, it’s more appealing,” said VanderVorste.

Since tanning in South Dakota is not a year-round outdoor activity, many SDSU students and Brookings residents are turning to indoor tanning beds to give them a satisfactory tan all year round, even during the blistering cold winters.

The three tanning salons in Brookings that work to help people accomplish this task of keeping a healthy, gorgeous tan all year round are Year Round Brown, 2nd Glance Salon and Spa, and Power Tan. All three salons have trained and certified tanning specialists on duty to help customers pick lotions and bed intensities that work for their skin types, and answer any questions they may have about tanning.

A tan is the result of ultraviolet rays hitting the surface of the skin, causing melanin in the skin to oxidize and turn brown. To develop a tan, one must first get a base tan. One can obtain this by tanning every other day for about a week, anywhere from eight to ten minutes, depending on skin type. Tanning minutes can then be increased gradually to either maintain or darken an existing tan. To maintain a base tan, one to three tanning sessions are recommended, along with continuous application of moisture. If the skin is not kept moisturized, the top layer of skin will shed, shedding both your tan and your wallet.

Certified tanning specialist Adrianne Hemerka said, “The key to tanning is moisturization and education.”

Some tanning lotions contain special ingredients that speed up the tanning process. Lotion use is said to help a person tan about 60 percent faster than not using any type of lotion. Many tanning lotions also contain bronzers, which make the tan stand out even darker. The lotions are also made to combat dry skin and prevent wrinkles that are associated from overexposure to UVB rays. Some of the best lotions on the market today contain ingredients such as extreme tanning catalysts. Tanning specialists can help beginners pick out a lotion that best suits their skin types.

Along with lotion, eyewear is especially important. Although the use of goggles in a tanning bed is not required in South Dakota, several states do have laws regarding the use of eyewear when tanning. The absence of protective eyewear while tanning can cause severe damage to the eye such as infections, night vision loss or permanent pink eye.

If tanning beds aren’t for you, Hemerka suggests using UV-free spray-on tans or lotions, which last around three to four days. Magic Tan, a spray-on tan, is a misty spray that usually stays for about a week. The UV-free spray tans and lotions are recommended for people prone to skin cancer or women who are pregnant.

According to Hemerka, tanning in moderation is a time to relax and have a little “you” time. When done right, tanning can be a self-esteem booster, along with a health benefit.