Fake Baking Your Time Away

Plattsburgh men and women are warming up for their spring vacations.

Story and photos by Pat Fifield

Slushy roads and wind-chill temperatures below zero - it's springtime in the North Country.

With spring vacations approaching Plattsburgh locals, young and old, are hitting the tanning salons. Gail Vibert, co-owner of Electric Beach Tanning Boutique says that March and April are the busiest months of the year for her business.

"People tan before their vacations so they can go there with a base tan to prevent burning," Vibert explained.

"Tans are sexy."

With sales of tanning lotions and the always booked appointments, local tanning salons are increasing business and profits.

Younger locals begin tanning in March and April as well but not necessarily for a Cancun vacation. Instead, they tan for prom. Vibert believes that another reason for the tanning craze is cosmetics. The appeal of bronze skin and skinny bodies portrayed in Hollywood alters people's beliefs of beauty. Young girls want to have dark skin believing that they will look better in their fancy prom dresses.

Kasey Maroney, 20, tans often and agrees that tanning for prom is a frequent occurrence. "I like the way I look with darker skin," Maroney said. "I like the glow on my face. I went tanning everyday for two months before my prom. Everyone does it." 

Tanning Bed
Tanning beds give off at least twice as much ultraviolet (UV ) Radiation as the sun.

Another frequent tanner, Jamey Rapp, believes that tanning gives you more color and makes you look healthier. "Tans are sexy," Rapp added. The tanning obsession can lead to numerous future problems.

The economic factors of increased tanning in the Plattsburgh area are beneficial, but health wise; it can be dangerous. According to the Food and Drug Administration, Ultra Violet (UV) radiation from tanning beds, even moderate tanning, can cause skin cancer.

"UV radiation can also have a damaging effect on the immune system and cause premature aging of the skin, giving it a wrinkled, leathery appearance." Many younger people may be tanning because the "skin aging and cancer are delayed effects and don't usually show up for many years after the exposure." The website explains that every skin type is at risk for the often fatal skin cancer, malignant melanoma.

"I'm aware of the dangers, but I'm not currently concerned."

The Food and Drug Administration "encourage[s] people to avoid the use of tanning beds." These tanning dangers are commonly known in society, so why is tan still "in"?

Tanning Sign
Dangers from tanning are posted in every room at Electric Beach Tanning & Boutique.

The dangers of tanning are posted in every tanning room at Electric Beach Tanning Boutique, but do customers read the warnings?

"I think most people do know the dangers, but they ignore them," Vibert explained.

It may seem difficult to ignore wrinkles and fatal skin cancer but many tanners find it easy to forget and ignore the dangers.

"I'm aware of the dangers, but I'm not currently concerned with them," Rapp said.

Wrinkles are not showing up on the faces of tan 20 year olds, but they may appear years down the road along with other possibly deadly cancers.

"Burn damage can haunt you."

Some people believe there are benefits to using tanning beds and these may  outweigh the potential dangers. Vibert said burns are the worst for tanners.

"Burn damage can haunt you," Vibert said. "You could still develop problems later on."

Vibert believes that it is important and beneficial to people who are taking a vacation in the tropics or any warm area, to get a base tan before going on vacation. A base tan could reduce or eliminate the risk of sunburn, which can cause Melanoma. Vibert also suggests using a high SPF lotion while on vacation, especially out in the sun, to protect your skin from the sun. 

It is also important when using the tanning beds to use an indoor-tanning lotion. The lotion can moisturize your skin and protect you with anti-aging agents and a lotion with a low SPF can help prevent skin aging. Protection is needed in the sun or in the tanning bed to protect from the harmful effects of UV radiation.

Tanning beds can be dangerous to your health, but it seems that locals are going to continue tanning for their upcoming spring vacations or their high school prom.  "I'll stop tanning when pale is in," Rapp joked.

Do you go tanning before a vacation?

Protect Yourself

After you have read and analyzed the dangers of using tanning beds and still have decided to tan, these safety tips from Cover Girl Health can help protect you.
Be sure to use the protective eyewear that is provided to you to avoid damage to your eyes.

It is important to follow exposure schedules according to skin type. This means you should only use the tanning bed for the number of minutes that is designed for your skin type. It is extremely dangerous to tan more than once a day. And it increases your chance of burning and damaging effects greatly.

Also, be sure to give your skin time to heal, if you have a burn. Take time off from tanning for your skin's sake.

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