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Perhaps gearing up for their traditional spring seasonal attacks on the indoor tanning industry, reports came forward of a Brigham Young University study that claims students are largely ignoring winter’s skin cancer risks as they report scarcely ever wearing sunscreen and increase their tanning bed use as the weather turns cold.
“Sunscreen and Tanning Bed Use in High-Risk College-Age Students,” was published in the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association late last year, surveying BYU campus students in 2017. (medicalxpress.com/news/2020-12-college-students-skin-cancer-high.html)
Of the respondents, 9.5% offered that they used sunscreen, dropping to 7.2% in the winter. Tanning bed usage increased during the winter from 12.6% to 15.8% (shocker), even though “tanning beds are known to increase the amount of UV exposure” (duh). The study was partly established as Utah is widely known for its high-altitude skiing opportunities which, of course, increase the sun’s intensity on the skier’s exposed skin.
The report should have focused on that. There is clearly a risk of overexposure and sunburn when skiing on Utah’s Wasatch mountains – or any mountain. After college, several friends of mine would gather up each year in March and head out west to ski. Utah’s Park City, Sundance, Alta and Snowbird areas offer up some of the finest skiing around, Pacific moisture combining with the mountain air to produce some of the world’s best powder. However, clear blue skies, altitudes at over 10,000 feet above sea level and the reflective surface of the snow can lead to quite a sunburn without proper skin protection. And protect, we did. We all carried and used sunscreens and lip balms with ample SPF ratings. When we came home, friends thought we had gone to the beach on vacation … we had killer suntans!
As for tanning bed usage among college students: well, of course, they use them. But it’s all in the numbers. The report on the BYU study could have led with … “an overwhelming majority topping 85% claimed they did not use tanning beds during the winter”… But, that really wouldn’t be the eye-popping catch phrase they were wanting to print. More alarming would have /should have been that over 93% did not protect their skin with sunscreens in winter months. Unprotected exposure to UV at any time of the year, much less when skiing, and exposure to less filtered and reflected sunlight can be extremely harsh, lead to sunburn and overexposure and ultimately, accumulated skin damage.
Share this with your salon guests: millions of people weigh the risk/benefits of UV exposure and choose to develop a cosmetic tan at professional indoor facilities, where sessions are delivered in moderation and with responsibility, according to individual skin type, and controlled by a timer to minimize the risk of overexposure and sunburn.
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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