Tanning Booths and Teenagers

Slowly but surely, more states are considering expanding bans on minors using indoor tanning beds. California is the only state that restricts anyone under 18 entirely from using tanning beds, but similar legislation was introduced and gained passage in New York last month. About 30 states currently restrict the use of tanning beds by minors in some way. Most restrictions apply to minors under the age of 14, while some restrictions require older teenagers to provide parental consent. At issue is the willingness of teenagers to tan without considering the consequences. The indoor tanning industry says that their methods are safer than tanning outdoors because tanning beds only use UVA radiation, while natural sunlight has both UVA and UVB radiation. Plus, they say, indoor tanning provides Vitamin D. Both of these claims are misleading.

Yes, indoor tanning uses only UVA radiation… which is the type that causes aging and cancer. Not exactly what you want repeated, up-close-and-personal doses of. Further, while tanning does provide Vitamin D, dermatologists say that even incidental sun exposure is sufficient to give a person a healthy dose of Vitamin D.

Teens tend to think they’re invincible, while any parent knows how false that is. Parents armed with the facts are in the best position to explain to their teenager why they shouldn’t be allowed to use tanning beds. Remind your teen that tanning now means wrinkles sooner, that more tanning means more freckles and moles now and that removal of moles will leave unsightly scars. Don’t let them convince you they “need the vitamin D” or that tanning inside is safer—it’s not true. Tell them healthy skin is beautiful skin. And if your teen wants a healthy glow for prom, suggest a bronzer as a safe alternative.

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