Addicted to Tanning

While women are more likely than men to use tanning beds, men are more likely to become addicted to indoor tanning.

UV radiation from tanning beds causes skin cancer and skin damage. Using a tanning bed just one time can increase your risk for squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent. Thirty-five percent of adults in the United States have used a tanning bed at least once.

Though tanning prevention campaigns are often targeted at women, research has shown that tanning may be addictive for men in particular. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that almost half of men who tan may compulsively feel the need to do so.

Differences in Behavior

A national survey of 636 people found that men who tan tend to feel anxious when they can’t tan and are more likely to pay for tanning services even if their budget doesn’t allow it. They also turn to tanning as a way to relieve stress or as a reward for working out.

The more frequently someone tans, the more likely he or she is to become physically or psychologically dependent on tanning. The best way to keep from becoming addicted is to never start tanning. For those who are already frequent tanners, switching to self-tanning creams or sprays is a safe way to achieve a darker complexion. Of course, letting go of an attachment to darker skin is a perfectly healthy and logical choice.

For those who miss the endorphin rush that some people believe tanning provides, substituting exercise is a natural way to generate an endorphin release while also benefiting your health.

The Myth of Perfect Skin Tone

Tanning has started to fall out of favor among some celebrities in recent years as the knowledge of its health risks becomes more prevalent. However, tanned skin is still often championed in popular culture, with many celebrities from the 1960s onward touting a bronzed look.

Tanned skin has not, however, been the standard of beauty across all history and civilizations. Cultures from as far back as the ancient Egyptians prized fair skin as the perfect tone.

While the societal ideal of the perfect skin tone may change over time, the health risks of UV exposure do not. The acceptance of your natural skin tone is the healthiest choice.