Dying for a Tan This Summer?

By McLaughlin, Patricia | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), June 15, 1995 | Go to article overview

Dying for a Tan This Summer?


McLaughlin, Patricia, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


WHITE PEOPLE have it tough. At least the pale ones, whose skin is really a mottled, unappetizing grayish-yellowish-pinkish off-white threaded with blue veins.

Once, amazing as it may seem, it was actually cool to have skin this color. Then Coco Chanel came home with a tan from a cruise on the Duke of Westminster's yacht, and ever since, white people have preferred to be a biscuit-y golden color. Especially this time of year, especially if they're going near the water.

One solution: Bop on into your local tanning salon for a few sessions so that, for once, you can go to the beach and look as if you belong there - instead of looking as if you crawled out from under a rock.

Joe Schuster says 70 percent to 75 percent of tanning salon clients see indoor tanning as a more "controlled" and "responsible" way to tan than the outdoor approach; they believe in building up a "base" tan indoors before going out in the real sun on vacation. Schuster is national sales director of Wolff System Technology, the country's biggest manufacturer of indoor tanning lamps, and media liaison for the Suntanning Association for Education, an indoor tanning trade association.

He says there are about 22,000 tanning salons in the U.S. - plus about 8,000 beauty salons, nail salons and fitness centers that offer indoor tanning on the side. And he says their 20 million to 25 million clients get a bad rap: People think "tanners are blond and beachgoers," he says, but, "No, they're everyday people, churchgoers, and 37 percent are between the ages of 35 and 44" - theoretically old enough to know better.

But, more to the point, how many of them get melanoma? A Swedish study published last year found that people under 30 who indulge in indoor tanning more than 10 times a year are nearly eight times more likely than nonusers to develop malignant melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer. Indoor tanning has also been linked to nonmelanoma skin cancers.

And how many of those 35-to-44-year-old users look years older than their age? For the better part of the past decade dermatologists have agreed that most of the blotches, lines, wrinkles and sags we think of as the signs of aging are caused by the skin's exposure to ultraviolet light. …

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