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Apparently, there is a lack of topics to write about in the health magazines this summer. The recent anti-tan content includes these nuggets from the fitness rag, SHAPE.
One of the biggest controversies about indoor tanning is that a base tan provides photoprotection. Pundits typically shake their heads and claim, “there’s no such thing as a safe tan” and that acquiring a base tan doesn’t protect you from sunburn. Then, grab a derm with a lab coat and two letters following their name (MD) to back up your claims.
The article begins in a decent fashion with a description of UVA and UVB. “When your skin is exposed to … UVA rays – including in tanning beds – it creates more melanin (aka skin pigment) to protect itself from further harm, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.” It goes on … “‘Not only does the boost of melanin give you that sought-after glow, but it’s also thought that it can provide an additional layer of protection against the sun and sunburns, which is where the idea of a base tan comes from’, says Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist based in New York City.” shape.com/lifestyle/beauty-style/base-tan-sunburns
Hey, great job! That is correct … so far. But then, things go south pretty quickly.
Most industry veterans know and advise their salon guests that a tan acquired with sunbed sessions can provide an SPF equivalent of about 3-4. These tanning pros also sell SPF lotions for use during natural sunlight exposure. But the mag tells readers that SPF 3-4 is not enough protection. Uh, we know that – but here’s the catch that’s missed. Hypothetically, picture two people (both skin type II) preparing to vacation for a week in a sunny climate such as Aruba. Prior to the trip, Vacationer “A” goes to a professional tanning salon and obtains a base tan (responsibly and in moderation) while Vacationer “B” stays indoors, stays out of the sun and reads up on the history of Aruba. Both head for the sunny beach on Day One, bounce in and out of the warm water and try to keep up with applying the proper amount of SPF throughout the day. Admittedly, that can be a struggle. Now, which vacationer is in the best position to avoid overexposure and sunburn?
Although “B” may know that Aruba is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, he or she is also a prime candidate to get sunburned. The article also gives the “prudent suggestion” to avoid the sun between 10am-2pm. Well, both of these vacationers saved up their hard-earned cash for the better part of the year to roll to Aruba. I’m thinking they’re probably not going to stay off the beach or completely avoid the sun during their stay! Hey, there’s shopping to do at the markets and besides, they came to have fun and frolic! You can go back to cave life once you get home. In sum, these folks have made a conscious decision to head to the beach – a factor the doctors seldom consider when they’re interviewed for these articles.
So, I hope you’ve enjoyed the tutorial on prudent sun exposure. Millions of people weigh the pros and cons of UV exposure and choose to acquire a tan at a professional indoor tanning facility with sessions delivered in moderation and responsibility and the risk of sunburn is minimized.
A 26-year industry veteran, Joe has taught certified salon operator training for the last 15 years, as well as advocating indoor tanning in many capacities. Joe is a sought-after speaker and presenter at both national & regional trade events, also interacting with the FDA, state & local regulatory agencies. During his most recent tenure with the ITA, he served as director of membership.
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