Teens and Tanning

Why your teen should not be tanning

teenagers tanning on beach
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The tanning salon industry continues to attract teens and is thriving despite skin cancer warnings. Because tanning salons can be found on just about everywhere, teens perceive them to be safe. After all, why would tanning salons be open if they weren't safe? 

Unfortunately, they couldn't be more wrong. It's up to parents to educate teens about the dangers of tanning and regulate their visits to salons. In fact, many states require a parent's permission for a teen to tan at a salon.

Why Your Teen Should Not Be Tanning

Whether it is done in the sun in your backyard or in a salon, tanning is unsafe and the consequences can be potentially life threatening. Skin cancer among young people is on the rise because so many young people are tanning.

More than 1 million people will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year. Even more alarming is that melanoma, an aggressive, potentially fatal type of skin cancer, has increased in young people -- it is now the most common type of cancer diagnosed in young adults ages 25-29. Many teens do not know that they are at a risk of developing skin cancer by tanning. They often think it is an "old person's" disease. This is simply not true.

Talk to Your Teen About the Ugly Effects of Tanning

Discuss with your teen the dangers of tanning and the possible consequences of it. Besides skin cancer, premature aging of the skin (wrinkles, lines, and sagging) is a certain outcome of tanning. With teens, sometimes it takes knowing the cosmetic and aesthetic consequences first before they become concerned with the health risks of tanning. Some other points you may want to discuss with your teen are:

Encourage Alternative Tanning Options

Sunless tanning products are an effective and safe alternative to traditional sunbathing and tanning beds. Marketed as self-tanning creams, lotions, sprays, and mists, these products give a sun-kissed glow without the risk of developing skin cancer. These products are regulated by the FDA and are safe, when used as directed. On the other hand, tanning pills are not approved by the FDA and are considered to be unsafe. They contain an ingredient called canthaxanthin, which can cause dangerous side effects.

Sunless tanning products have evolved since their conception and will not likely turn the skin orange with normal use. Excessive use of these self-tanning products can cause the skin to have an orange hue. This is temporary and will fade once the product sloughs off through bathing. Your teen may argue that she will become orange if she uses these products as opposed to a tanning bed, but stand firm. It is the excessive use of these products that cause the orange tone.

Bronzers are also an excellent tanning alternative that will not turn the skin orange. Sold at any drug store or cosmetics counter, bronzers add an instant sun-kissed look in seconds. You can control how bronze you want your skin by choosing different tones. Just wash off with your regular facial cleanser to remove -- it's as simple as that. Bronzers are a must-have make-up bag item for many celebrities and models. Plus, if your skin is a little orange hued from using another sunless tanning product, a bronzer will mask if perfectly.

Be a Role Model for Sun Safety

It's important to practice what you preach. Your teen will more likely follow sun safety practices if you do. This means wearing sunscreen when going outdoors, avoiding the sun during peak times during the day, and also wearing protective clothing while in the sun. While we shouldn't completely avoid going out in the sun, we can be smart about it when we do. More about being sun savvy:

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Article Sources

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  • :Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection, American Cancer Society, 03/19/2015.