Whether someone is tanning for vacation, to get rid of the winter-time-blues, or just because it makes them feel better, an indoor tanning booth is somewhere where everyone can receive their Vitamin D fix. Recently, New York State has put some restrictions on tanning for the younger age tanners.
This past August, there was a new law passed preventing any child under 16 years of age from tanning. At 17, a parent or guardian is allowed to sign for them, allowing them to tan. And, at 18, they are allowed to make their own decision whether to tan or not. Before this law was passed, the previous law stated that anyone 14-and-under was not allowed to tan and, anyone ages 15-17, needed parental consent.
“Tanning booths are the new cigarettes to give people cancer,” said Dr. Stephen Presser, a well-known dermatologist in Geneseo. “I consider tanning to be similar to smoking and drinking alcohol in that it is something not good for you.”
As a professional, he believes that tanning is bad for the skin and minors need to be protected from it, just as they are protected from cigarettes and alcohol. He has seen numerous patients that were affected by tanning, not just indoors.
“Most people who get basal cell skin cancer get it well after 65,” Dr. Presser said. “Basal skin cancer is the cancer you can get from tanning. Usually people who are over 65 get this, but recently younger and younger people having this type of skin cancer.”
This doesn’t mean that you cannot be tan. There are ways around using UV rays to have that golden glow without causing harm to your skin.
“There is a way to have your cake and eat it too,” Dr. Presser said. “There is a way to look like you have a tan without damaging your skin. The answer is self-tanners, spray tanners make someone look like they have a tan without any damage. It is effectively like a stain, in other words, it makes the skin appear tan without any sun damage.”
At Uptown Tan in Geneseo, they have an alternative way to get tan. The Versa Spa, which is what Dr. Presser is referring to when he says ‘self-tanners.’ The Versa Spa is a machine that spays a mostly organic replica of having a real tan.
“Most tanners know burning causes damage and a base tan helps prevent burning,” said LuAnn Popham, owner of Uptown Tan. “They still need to be careful in the sun. When customers of Uptown Tan are going away on vacation, many will come in stating that they would like to get a ‘base tan’ before they leave on vacation.”
Popham started working in a tanning salon 12 years ago with her sister. She became co-owner of Uptown Tan in January of 2007. In July of 2010, she became the sole owner of Uptown Tan.
“Customers have also expressed that they feel better when they ‘have a little color’ and the cold dreary days are easier to handle when they get a dose of sunshine at the salon.” Popham said. “Vitamin D is something we get from the UV rays, and it is something we need. In the winter we are unable to get our Vitamin D dosage from the sun itself, which makes tanning beds much more popular during the winter months.”
Popham has conducted mass amounts of research on the topic of tanning. She has researched sun screens, the benefits of tanning, and also the negatives and how to tan smart. She encourages people to do their own research to make their own decision about tanning.
“Personally, I believe indoor tanning is beneficial if you feel better when doing it regularly,” Popham said. “I believe there are health benefits associated with it based on the extensive research I have conducted and continue to conduct. A person’s exposure to sunlight can be controlled more easily with indoor tanning than it can with natural sunlight.”
“There are many resources available that can be found easily online,” Popham said. “Use search words and phrases such as ‘indoor tanning,’ ‘Vitamin D,’ ‘health benefits’ and ‘UV exposure’ and ‘cancer prevention.’ Search around the web, read, check references from posted articles. Make up your own mind,” Popham said.
Darlene and Shelby Miller, a mother and daughter who have been customers at Uptown Tan for several years, are unsatisfied with the new tanning laws.
“It’s been very frustrating because to me I feel like New York State has taken my right as a parent to give my child the permission to do something that she wants to do,” Darlene Miller said. “If I am saying it’s okay and I give my permission an buy the package, she should be able to do it.”
The mother and daughter live in Geneseo. Darlene has been allowing her daughter to tan for a few years now, so that she could keep a base tan for when they travel to Florida.
“I think that they have just changed because I have been doing it (indoor tanning) since before the law was changed and that shouldn’t matter.” Shelby Miller said.
“The biggest reason is her father, my husband, lives and works in Florida,” Darlene Miller said. “So when we go down to visit him with Shelby being unable to tan, she goes down there and the chances of her burning the first day or two down there are so high. Since the sun and the heat are so much more extreme in Florida versus New York, Shelby is at more of a risk against the sun without a base tan to protect her skin. The heat is so different and her skin is not conditioned at that point.”
This topic will continue to be controversial, but it is up to you to do research and decide for yourself if indoor tanning is something for you.