Complements The dangers of tanning


By Lashelle Kuhlman, licensed aesthetician, reconstructive & cosmetic surgery, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Recently going viral is a picture of a young woman who went to tanning beds most of her high school years and is now dealing with skin cancer.  She has decided to share her story so the world can see what skin cancer treatments truly look like. I think most of us can relate to wanting to have that nice tan for the summer, but tanning is not part of a healthy lifestyle. Let me explain why.

As an aesthetician, I see clients daily wanting to remove brown spots caused by the sun and wanting to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Most of these clients explain to me that, as teens, they were always in the sun or they used the tanning bed frequently. Any way you acquire the sun, it’s bad news. Fake baking is just as dangerous as lying in the sun.

Both indoor and outdoor sun contains UVA and UVB rays that cause possible skin cancer and skin aging (wrinkles and brown spots). Indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors. Tanning is unsafe, and the consequences can be potentially life threatening. There is no such thing as a healthy tan unless you’re getting it out of a bottle.

Sunless tanning products or spray tans are a safe alternative to sun bathing and tanning beds. These are available in creams, lotions and sprays that will not cause the development of skin cancer. There are those who don’t like to apply the self-tanner because of the potential of it has to turn skin orange, but if you prepare and apply it the correct way, you should have a flawless tan.

Preparation and application are key for a nice, glowing self-tanning experience. Here are some tips to get that flawless look. Exfoliate first, always! Exfoliate with a scrub in the shower to remove dead skin, paying attention to elbows, knees and ankles. Secondly, moisturize before your application. Generally, dry patches are the number one reason for splotches. Next, use gloves to apply it so your palms aren’t a horrible shade of orange. Take your time applying, starting from bottom to top, in circular motions. Allow the self-tanner to dry over several hours; avoid putting it on right before bed. Over the next few days, when you shower, pat dry rather than rub, and remember to keep your skin moisturized.

Applying bronzer is another way to get a warm, summery look. When applying bronzer, use a big, fluffy brush (perhaps a kabuki), and tap off any excess product before swiping over your face. Concentrate most of the color at your temples and along the cheekbones. Without double dipping, lightly brush the bronzer across your nose and chin. Don't forget to apply and blend bronzer down your neck.

In conclusion, use your 30-or-above broad-spectrum sunscreen and avoid tanning salons. While we shouldn't completely avoid going out in the sun, we can be smart about it when we do.