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Could You Be Tanorexic?

Over the weekend I was at brunch with a large group of women when one of them mentioned she used a tanning bed to prepare for a Caribbean vacation. I was totally shocked! While most of you admit to using a tanning bed in the past, I'm willing to bet that after realizing just how bad they are for your health, you stopped.

With vacation and bikini seasons looming ahead, I can see why it's tempting to jump in the tanning bed for a little color; especially if you're worried about burning in the sun. But the LA Times recently reported on "tanorexics" — people addicted to tanning. According to the article, one in four teens shows signs of tanorexia, a dangerous obsession that could lead to skin cancer. Researchers think that tanning may cause a rush of endorphins in the brain, which can in turn cause feelings of well-being similar to a runner's high. And judging by my brunch experience, teens aren't the only ones susceptible to these feelings.

While you may think a little glow makes you look healthier, a natural tan is actually your skin's reaction to UV exposure. And according to one FDA scientist, "any tan is a sign of skin damage. Recognizing exposure to the rays as an 'insult,' the skin acts in self-defense by producing more melanin, a pigment that darkens the skin." This leads to premature aging, and in severe cases, cancer. If you're chasing that natural glow, try an at-home tanner, or spray-on tan. While neither will provide a "base" for UV exposure, they'll give you the healthy glow you're looking for. And, of course, when you're out in the sun, wear sunscreen. In my opinion, the risks of UV exposure are not worth the reward.

Image Source: WireImage
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cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 6 years
I am the lightest shade of pale on earth...with two sisters who always tanned beautifully. Ironically they teased me for years because I the joke is on them. The sun visibly aged them.
Kellanawida Kellanawida 6 years
My skin is averagely tan and I'm very happy with the skin I'm in. I've never had a spray tan or used a solarium. On Facebook I saw a tanning salon that is local to where I live offering Solarium memberships for a certain amount per month. According to government regulations here in Australia, apparently you can only tan every 2nd day. The salon was promoting getting in 15 sunbed tanning sessions (the legal maximum for the time period) in 30 days!! I was horrified! I think pale skin is beautiful!
soapbox soapbox 6 years
In my part of central jersey, most of the female population is tanorexic. I never understood it, but then again, I'm already dark.
le-romantique le-romantique 6 years
I used to tan in high school but stopped. I don't really "need" it since I have naturally olive skin anyway, but I manage to achieve a tan when I'm outside with or without SPF.
eneriyma eneriyma 6 years
I just went to a wedding where everyone in the wedding party over the age of 16 looked like they just came back from a 2 week tropical vacation. It's not surprising to me - some people just don't care about the dangers of tanning beds.
benheld benheld 6 years
A friend passed away last year after enduring a long battle with melanoma, and she was only 25 years old. It make me really angry to see people take sun safety so lightly. The risks are not at all worth the "reward".
Spectra Spectra 6 years
This is interesting...I just got back from a weeklong vacation near Cancun and I was astounded at just how tan most of the people were that were staying at our resort. Most of them were almost professional tanners--I would see these women position the loungers on the beach so the sun's rays would beat down directly on them throughout the day. Meanwhile, I was slathering on SPF 50 every hour to avoid getting too much sun! I can't get tan skin from the sun; I just burn really badly and it peels off and turns white again. So I use self-tanner on my arms and legs if I'm going to bare them a lot and slather on the sunscreen. I must say the Jergens Natural Glow Firming moisturizer is one of my favorites--it gives me a touch of color without looking too orange.
stellaRuby stellaRuby 6 years
Definitely not. I am tanaphobic though...
Soniabonya Soniabonya 6 years
I get some pretty bad tan lines, even when I put on my sunblock. I am fair skinned. The wetta of my Mexican family and burn like a lobster. I always, always wear sun block when I go outside and have skin exposed, but even so, I do get the tan lines. When I was competitively swimming 6 days a week 2 hours a day in college, my tan was horrific, but eh, I kind a liked it. Showed how hard I worked. But I have never and will never use a tanning bed. Never trusted them and just didn't see the need to pay for one. If I ever felt the need to be tanned, I go to a local boutique and get sprayed. And I only do that once or twice a year.
1apple 1apple 6 years
This, like smoking, is so bad for your health! How does any sane person rationalize it?
GirlOverboard GirlOverboard 6 years
I love having just a little bit of a tan on my legs because they're SO pale that even when my legs are freshly shaven they still look like they have stubble because you can see the hair follicles. I hate that! Other than that, I don't take much stock in being tan. Besides, I think it looks silly when somebody is wearing a sleeveless/strapless top with bright white strap lines in contrast. :P
snarkypants snarkypants 6 years
i am also amazed at how many of my friends use tanning beds! it's actually kind of sad.
crystalvillage06 crystalvillage06 6 years
I agree with Chloe; I am also pale and freckly and have just accepted it. It's not too say I don't envy that pretty tan skin my friends have but I try to take solace in the fact I won't have premature wrinkles...or more importantly cancer!
chloe-bella chloe-bella 6 years
I'm also surprised at how many of my friends still "prepare" for vacations by using tanning beds - and by how they're obsessed with laying out on vacation!! I'm definitely the fairest one of my friends, I have freckles, and skin cancer runs in my family. And yet, it's my friends who tan easily who have had to have pre-cancerous growths removed already, whereas I don't have a single mole. I think that those of us who are high risk for skin cancer (pale with freckles) tend to accept early on that we just aren't going to be tan no matter what, and that it's the girls who tan easily who really get addicted to the point where it's unhealthy.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 6 years
I've never heard of this term before. Interesting how different culture here in US and in another country. I remember growing up in another country whose people find paler skin to be more beautiful since majority has tanned skin already (hey, it's not difficult to achieve, btw, it was mostly sun shine and super hot--except when it rains-- but we have the average of 80-90 degrees day daily). If I didn't wear my umbrella or put on lotion, I'd be very tanned--and in fact I was pretty tan without even trying! If anything, over there, people will use umbrella to protect ourselves from the sun ray LOL. It's funny to read that here they will go to a tanning salon to tan themselves because I can't see all.
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