It’s the time of year when fair skinned teens think about looking their best for Spring Break, prom, and summer bathing suit season. The media has reported many stories lately regarding indoor tanning, the risks, and the industry’s failure to responsibly self regulate. There is no question that tanning beds and salons are hazardous to one’s health, just like cigarette smoking, but at least big tobacco now provides numerous forms of warnings to consumers who have to be over the age of 18 to use the product. Last year, California took a bold step to protect young consumers by legislating a statewide ban on the use of tanning beds by consumers under the age of 18. Recently, a US congressional probe performed an investigation into how tanning salons in other states communicate with their customers, and the results are alarming. “Undercover” congressional committee workers, posing as teen girls, monitored the conversations with tanning salon personnel about the risks of tanning. In approximately 300 visits to different salons, 90% or more of the salons denied any risk associated with using tanning beds. What is more disturbing is that 78% of the salons in the sample actually advised that indoor tanning had health benefits including weight loss, improved Vitamin D intake, and treating depression. If your daughters or sons are asking to go to a tanning salon, educate them about the risks of skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the top killers for young women in their 20’s, and it is preventable. Instead, consider tanning lotions that are readily available in drug stores and department stores, or consider a spray tan for special occasions. The technology behind both have greatly improved making a much more natural appearance. West Houston Dermatology Laser & Skincare Center is committed to educating youth and their parents about the dangers of tanning both outdoors and at salons.