Cosmo has been covering the dangers of tanning beds as part of our ongoing Practice Safe Sun campaign.
New research shows that indoor tanning increases your melanoma odds, yet salons keep customers in the dark about the risks. Cosmo teamed up with ABC News' 20/20 to expose their efforts to mislead you.Tune in to ABC on Friday, December 4, at 10 p.m. ET to watch the shocking investigation!
Here are some of the highlights:
TANNING MYTH #1
Indoor tanning is not strongly linked to melanoma.
The Indoor Tanning Association (ITA), insists that no proof connects artificial UV light to melanoma-the deadliest form of skin cancer that is also the second most common cancer for women in their 20s and the third most common cancer for women in their 30s-and that rates of skin cancer today are probably based on having been sunburned 20 to 40 years ago.
But decades of research, including the previously referenced report, have shown that exposure to UV light can lead to melanoma, especially if you're exposed to it in your teens and/or 20s.
And according to derms, it's not bad habits from the past driving today's high melanoma rates-it's the increase in indoor tanning. "The age-group where we're seeing melanoma rates increase rapidly is in young women," explains Darrell Rigel, MD,clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. "They are up to eight times more likely to use tanning beds than young men are."
Also, Dr. Rigel says that derms are seeing more melanoma cases on body parts that normally get no exposure to the sun, such as the labia, yet are exposed via a sunlamp session.
TANNING MYTH #2
A base tan will protect you from sun damage when you go outside.
The ITA claims that getting darker via indoor tanning will help safeguard your skin from further harm once you're exposed to the sun.
True, tanned skin does provide minimal protection. Problem is, any color is proof that your skin has already been damaged. "The base tan doesn't give you enough future protection to offset the harm already done," says Albert Lefkovits, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology and co-director of the cosmetic dermatology surgery program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in NYC.
"When you expose your skin to UV rays," says Dr. Rigel, "your body perceives that it's being assaulted and produces melanin-a pigment produced by skin cells-to protect itself. Those pigments are a sign that serious damage has been done." Learn how to do a self-check on your skin.
Allso, not everyone can become tan. People with fair skin may go from white to lobster red. If they tried to get a base tan indoors, their skin would fry. There's no shame is getting your glow from the bottle. We found the bests self-tanners for your sex life.
Indoor tanning offers positive psychological benefits.
The ITA contends that basking in UV light boosts the production of mood-enhancing hormones called endorphins as well as levels of the brain chemical serotonin, which is associated with feelings of bliss.
Though some studies and derms back up these claims-and many indoor and outdoor tanners say they look and feel heathier and sexier while sporting a bronzed look-research isn't conclusive.
Whatever the psychological effects may or may not be, think about it: Aren't there easier, less wrinkle- and cancer-courting ways to hike serotonin and endorphin production and pump your hotness quotient? Yeah, we thought so.
If you do find yourself craving light exposure due to the winter blues, take a walk in the sunshine-armed with a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, of course-or just enjoy being outdoors without being directly in the sun.
And if a golden glow makes you feel more attractive and sexier, check out the newest crop of self-tanners. Most contain a bronzer, so you get natural-looking color right away, as well as fragrance to mask that self-tanner odor. Plus, many are now packaged as presoaked towelettes and quick-drying foams, so no more brown gunk rubbing off on your hands and clothes. It's easier than ever to look sun-kissed without risking your life. when you go outside.In case you need more reasons to stop hitting the tanning salon, we've found 480.
We want to hear from you! Tell us about your tanning habits and tune in to ABC on Friday, December 4, at 10 p.m. ET to watch the shocking investigation!
Get more from Cosmopolitan.com.Winter Beauty: How to Look Gorgeous When the Weather Is Gross
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.