Tanning beds have an unusual smell. However, the smell of it can remind someone of the beach and has a scent like the whole place is covered in sunscreen and perfume. On first inspection, all of the rooms are located on the outer parts of the walls. The doors open right into the waiting room, creating an awkward feeling of vulnerability. Each tanner strips, keeping aware of the other people in the beds, lying naked only a few feet away. However, after 5-12 minutes, all is forgotten and the painful brightness becomes lazy pleasure. It’s not until the lights dim and the cold creeps in from the air conditioning that the tanner becomes miserable enough to wake up from their stupor and takes their new golden body into the sun.
Many of the tanners are teenagers, but teens who go to tanning beds are putting their tans above their health: they don’t realize the dangers that come with “fake baking.” Even though the sensation of tanning feel relaxing, tanning beds lead to skin cancer, premature skin aging, change in skin texture and even eye problems.
There are several misconceptions about what is safe and what isn’t. For example, many teens believe that getting a “base tan” from a tanning bed will protect from a burn, but because of the extra exposure to UV radiation, it only increases the chance of a burn.
Therefore, the only totally healthy alternative to tanning beds are spray tans and the use of tanning lotions. Spray tans impose no health threats, but they have their own disadvantages.
“I like [spray tans] because they are better than tanning beds,” said sophomore Madison Calhoon. “The only thing I don’t like about them is that sometimes they look unnatural.”
People get spray tans, intending to look like they just returned from vacation, but the results can be quite the opposite. Sometimes a spray tan or lotion can cause an orange color due to the DHA level and the sensitivity of the user’s skin. This unknown “orange factor” can affect tanning standards for many people.
“It all depends on if [the tan] is good or not,” said junior Keaton Jenson. “If you look like a carrot, then no.”
Another disadvantage to spray tans is the cost. The prices can range from $20 to $600 depending on whether or not you want to pay in advance for more sessions. And you will likely need more than a couple sessions to gradually build up the color.
A single visit costs $24 at Suntan City, which may not sound like a lot, but the results are what you’re paying for. Sunless tans only last a maximum of 10 days, so you would have to keep going back for the tan you want, racking up the price of a consistent spray tan significantly. Despite the cost, many people around Dunbar go to the Suntan City located in Beaumont Center because it is close and easy to access.
Tanning lotions, on the other hand, are better priced and have a more subtle look that is often bronzing and glowing. The tanner usually has to apply a lot of product for the tan to show really well, but that is a good thing because the results are more gradual, like a real sun tan.
A common mistake that happens when using tanning lotion is that people forget to wash their hands. When the tanner doesn’t wash their hands, the tan lotion sticks to your hands, making them look darker than the rest of your body. It is also common for people to not rub the lotion in thoroughly, giving a patchy appearance to the tan. It’s necessary to know the proper techniques for applying tanning lotion, if this is the option you choose. There are plenty YouTube tutorials to demonstrate proper technique; search “how to apply tanning lotion.”
A lot of tanning lotions are available for seen as under $20, but some are a little more expensive, like the Kardashian Glow Natural Bronzer for $49. This one lasts for a couple of weeks instead of days, though, so paying for it is worth it.
To people looking to get an early start to your tan this year, look at the healthy alternatives like lotion or spray tans instead of “fake baking.”