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Tanning for prom: BHS edition

Many girls have chosen to go tanning for their last high school dance, and many options--and risks--are available to them.

Lauren Paquet, Editor

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With prom season upon us, many girls look for easy and quick ways to get bronze for the big day. With many options out there, from spray tans to lotions to tanning in beds, girls have plenty of options to choose from.

In the United States, indoor tanning is a nearly $5 billion dollars per year industry, providing income for close to 19,000 small businesses across the country. For most girls, tanning in beds remains the riskiest option for some quick color, with the risk of premature aging and skin cancer. For senior Skye Kendrick, she has been tanning since her freshman year.

“[I usually tan] just for formal events,” said Kendrick. “I started [tanning in beds] my freshman year. It was for prom, [and] I got invited by a senior so I wanted to be tan.”

Kendrick always takes the risk of getting skin cancer into consideration, and it’s the reason she only goes tanning for special events like prom.

“I always take [getting skin cancer] into consideration because my great grandmother had it,” said Kendrick. “I feel like if I’m not going every day or all the time and only go a few times a week I’ll be okay.”

For senior April Woodman, who doesn’t have a family history of skin cancer, she decided to tan in beds with less to worry about.

“I decided to tan in a tanning bed because I was really worried that if I went spray tanning I would turn orange,” said Woodman. “Honestly, I am not worried at all [about getting skin cancer] because I only plan on tanning for prom. If I were to tan religiously, I would be very concerned for my health.”

I decided to tan in a tanning bed because I was really worried that if I went spray tanning I would turn orange,” said Woodman. “Honestly, I am not worried at all [about getting skin cancer] because I only plan on tanning for prom. If I were to tan religiously, I would be very concerned for my health.”

— April Woodman

Taking her health concerns into consideration, this is Woodman’s first experience using tanning beds for the special day.

Senior April Woodman gets ready to go tanning

“This is the first time I’ve ever tanned in a bed,” said Woodman. “I never did it before because I was scared I’d damage my skin.”

Senior Michelle Deshaies decided to take an alternative route and use tanning lotion to avoid the risks of tanning beds.

“I don’t think tanning beds are the healthiest or cheapest option when it comes to getting a little bit of color,” said Deshaies. “Although using lotion isn’t the cleanest tan you could have since it can be uneven, it’s inexpensive and way less risky.”

Although Deshaies doesn’t have a family history of skin cancer, she doesn’t want to take any risks even for a short period of time. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, people who first use a tanning bed before age thirty-five increase their risk for melanoma by seventy-five percent.

“I don’t have a family history of skin cancer, [but] I just don’t want to risk getting it especially considering it’s a choice,” Deshaies said.

Although the tanning beds seem to be working for Woodman, she experienced a downside of choosing this option as well.

“I started tanning last Tuesday [May 2nd], and I have four times since then,” said Woodman. “The last time I went tanning, which was Friday, I stayed in the bed two minutes too long and burned my whole back side. Today [May 9th] will be the first day I go back.”

Although tanning beds present the risk of getting really burnt, Kendrick believes that it is still the best option to get the quickest tan.

“I do [think tanning in beds is most effective because] spray tans only last about two or three days, and I always end up blotchy or orange,” Kendrick said.

School Nurse Amy Elie thinks tanning beds aren’t the safest choice for a quick tan, and that laying in the natural sun with sunscreen is a much better option. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, several states ban the use of tanning beds for minors under eighteen, and forty-two states regulate the use of tanning facilities for minors.

“It’s not really that great for you to tan in beds,” said Elie. “Even tanning in the sun for long periods of time isn’t good, but I would rather see people tanning with sunscreen and being out in the sun getting a little bit of color instead of going in tanning beds.”

However, Elie thinks that if the weather isn’t nice and you only have a few weeks to prepare tanning beds may be the only option for a clean tan.

“When I was in high school, I did tan [in beds],” said Elie. “I guess short-term is better than doing it for a long time because not only does it put you more at risk [for skin cancer], but the tans aren’t very pretty.”

Woodman has noticed a difference in her face color, but not so much in the rest of her body.

“I haven’t noticed much of a difference [in my skin color],” said Woodman. “The last time I went I burned myself, and that’s the only real color I’ve noticed. But I have a lot more freckles on my face, so that’s good.”
No matter what option these girls choose, their health remains the most important factor to them over anything else.

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The student news site of Biddeford High School in Biddeford, Maine
Tanning for prom: BHS edition