Katie Fenton, Online Reporter
As temperatures rise, Washingtonians fantasize about warm sunny days, pool parties and backyard barbeques, only to realize that Washington’s summer doesn’t actually begin until early July. With this unfortunate reality in mind, many people turn to tanning for an early dose of summer.
Tanning is the process of literally browning one’s skin, mainly caused by sun exposure. The same results can also be achieved through spray tanning, a purely cosmetic procedure, or tanning beds, which emit ultraviolet radiation through bright fluorescent lights that actually darken the skin.
Most people tan to achieve a flawless, California-esque appearance. While having sun-kissed skin can look nice for a short period, the costs are deadly.
Tanning in the sun naturally or through a tanning bed can lead to damage caused by UV radiation, which increases a person’s risk for skin cancer. People who use a tanning bed before they’re 35 increase their risk for melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, by 75 percent, according to skincancer.org.
“Tanning is stupid,” student Makenna Jester said. “Regardless of whether or not you put on sunscreen there’s still a chance you’ll get skin cancer. Spray tanning (makes) you look like an Oompa Loompa. Tanning beds gradually make you like an Oompa Loompa and you pay more. Washington barely gets any sun so there’s a lot of people who take advantage of the salons.”
Yet some people choose to ignore the facts. There’s eight tanning salons in Puyallup, most of which offer both spray tanning and tanning beds. While spray tans aren’t the problem, many businesses still offer tanning bed services when there’s obviously harmful side effects associated with tanning.
It’s one thing to want bronze, youthful-looking skin, but it’s completely unnecessary for people to risk their lives and expose themselves to harmful UV rays.
Instead of using tanning beds, people can try natural tanning. It’s not 100 percent safe because skin will be exposed to the sun, but a generous amount of sunscreen and protective clothing such as sunglasses and hats will lessen the harsh effects.
Another alternative to tanning is using self-tanning lotions. These lotions are applied to the skin and gradually darken its appearance through the color additive dihydroxyacetone, according to the FDA. For the makeup-savvy individuals, bronzer can be applied across the face for a natural looking flush of color.
Of course, people could also learn to accept their appearance and leave tanning out of the equation.
“Be comfortable with yourself,” Jester said. “Embrace your albino skin.”
Albino or not, some people would benefit from accepting their less-than-tan skin. Beauty is a subjective concept and there’s no shame in having pale skin. There’s also nothing wrong with having or wanting tanned skin, but there are consequences to tanning and they should be taken into consideration.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost