My 17-year-old daughter wants to go tanning at a tanning salon. She says all
her friends are doing it. Is this safe? – Anjali
Even though many teens are into tanning, it's best for them to stay out of
tanning salons and tanning beds. Tanning at a salon is not safer than tanning
in the sun. The UV rays that cause the tan in a salon are involved in the development
of skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. These UV rays also cause premature wrinkling
of the skin.
It's also important to be cautious about airbrush or spray-on tans.
The FDA hasn't approved DHA (the main ingredient in self-tanner) for use internally
or on mucous membranes (like the lips). Spray tans may have unknown health risks because
people can breathe in the spray, or the tanner may end up on their lips or eye area.
If your daughter is set on getting a few shades darker, suggest buying a sunless
tanner (available in any drugstore) to apply at home. Also, make sure she applies
plenty of sunscreen before hitting the beach or spending time outdoors.