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If you must tan, use sunless tanning products

If you must tan, use sunless tanning products

New research suggests that doctors consider recommending sunless tanning products as an health care tool.

Sunless tanning products–lotions and sprays that combine with amino acids to stain the skin–are typically used for cosmetic reasons. A teen, for example, wants a tanned appearance for a prom or other big event.

So, this new research, conducted by Sherry L. Pagoto, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, and reported in this month’s Archives of Dermatology, has value in that it suggests a different approach to those who are wedded to the idea that a tan is attractive.

Pagoto and her colleagues recruited 250 women who were sunbathing to participate in the study. One group was provided skin cancer information and a UV-filtered photograph showing skin damage not visible to the naked eye. The second group was provided cosmetic samples not related to skin cancer.

Follow-ups determined that the women who received the skin cancer information sunbathed less often, and began using sun protective clothing and sunless tanning products.

The study authors concluded that  “Encouraging sunbathers to switch to sunless tanning could have an important health impact, but sunless tanning has been considered a cosmetic more so than a health care tool. These findings have implications for public health and clinical efforts to prevent skin cancer. Promoting sunless tanning to sunbathers in the context of a skin cancer prevention public health message may be helpful in reducing sunbathing and sunburns and in promoting the use of protective clothing. Future research should determine how to further convince tanners to switch to sunless tanning.”

This approach may have value for those who cannot accept the idea that a tan is evidence of nothing more than cell damage.

But that’s the real issue…changing the deeply held attitude that a tan is attractive.

Be safe. Be SunAWARE. And, if you must tan, use sunless tanning products.

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