West Houston Dermatology

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Sunless Tanning Products and Tanning Behavior in Women

Even though there is ample public education concerning the risks of skin cancer from sunbathing and the use of tanning beds/booths, people in our culture still seek to tan their skin for aesthetic purposes.  Sunless tanning products (or STP’s) have grown in popularity.  This may be due to improved STP formulas, the availability of do-it-yourself home kits, and the emergence of spray tanning salons.  Today, even STP’s done at home tend to be less orange and streaky in appearance than ten years ago.  Though STP’s are preferable to sunbathing and tanning booths in terms of skin protection, some in the medical community voiced concerns that STP’s would merely make tanning more popular, regardless of the means.  Recently the Archives of Dermatology published a study to address this concern.  Over 50% of women in the study were between the ages of 18-25, about 41% were between 26-40, and another 40% were over 40 years of age.  Approximately 92% of the participants stated that tanned skin is always more attractive than un-tanned skin, and 79% said they felt better about themselves when their skin was tanned.  The good news from this study is that women who used STP’s spent significantly less time in the sun or under UV lamps than those who did not use STP’s.  Dr. Stephen Mahoney of West Houston Dermatology Laser & Skincare Center is concerned about his patients who seek out tanning beds and those who do not use adequate protection in natural sunlight, and many of these patients tend to be teenage girls and young women.  It’s is not Dr. Mahoney’s intent to scare people from going outside, but instead to use common sense and protect their skin from sun damage – most importantly to reduce the risk of skin cancer, but also to prevent sun damage that causes premature aging.