Tanning booths: benefit or bust?

Teens explain decisions regarding their time in the tanning bed

Hailey Boger, Reporter

Summer is approaching, and it’s that season of the year that more and more SHS students are striving to achieve a tan. Since Indiana is not exactly a place of abundant sunshine, those wishing to get a tan are able to turn to services that offer affordable sun for half the time it takes for a natural tan, indoor tanning. These companies’ services include spray tanning and the use of local tanning beds and booths.

Junior Jaclyn Speiser is one of many who tan frequently, depending on the time of year. She says her tanning facility of choice is Tanfastic, located in Beech Grove. Speiser says she slows down her usage of the tanning bed when she has the time and means to tan from the natural sun.

“If I’m about to go on a trip, then I’ll go once a week,” Speiser said. “But after that it’s once every two weeks.”

Speiser says she goes to the tanning booth mainly because she enjoys being tan, but she’s also found that it helps with her acne. She says that because of the risks that come with using tanning booths, she doesn’t go that often.

Speiser says she continues tanning, since she has never had a bad experience. She hasn’t been able to go tanning recently because of track season, but she says she gets a lot of sun regardless.

On the other hand, senior Ashton Richey used to go tanning as often as four times a week, though she doesn’t do it anymore.

“It just made me feel like more self-confident I guess, in a way,” Richey said.

A main reason that Richey says she stopped tanning was because of the harmful effects it could have on her. Sometimes when she would go tanning, she would get burns on her body, and that was an indicator to her that she should stop. Richey would also often feel like she would get trapped in the tanning beds.

“I only did it for ten minutes, but I know some people that will do it for twenty and that’s so scary,” Richey said.

Due to her bad experiences in the tanning bed, Richey advises people considering tanning to refrain from using them use tanning booths. She believes the long-term health risks that come with using them are not worth it.

Though tanning booths and other means of indoor tanning are quick alternatives to tanning naturally, indoor tanning can also bring health problems.

According to dermatologist Dr. Thomas Knackstedt (clevelandclinic.org,) use of tanning booths increases the risk developing skin cancers such as melanoma. He says that there is also an increased risk of melanoma the younger one starts tanning indoors.

“We know that the longer you tan, the more hours you’re under the lamp,” Knackstedt said in an article on clevelandclinic.org. “The more sessions you go to and the number of years that you do that, those all individually serve as risk factors for melanoma.”

Knackstedt believes that spray tans are the safest alternative to tanning booths since spray tans only affect the top layer of skin. Despite this alternative, there are still over 1.6 million teenagers using indoor tanning methods each year according to the FDA.

“It’s important to note that indoor tanning isn’t safe at any age, for anyone,” Knackstedt said.