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Reality Check: Base Tans Are Not a Good Idea

Feeling good because you've gotten your base tan for the summer? You may want to think again.


As it turns out, the notion of a base tan has no real medical value. I know it holds a convincing argument: get a base now so that you don't burn later. Heck I've definitely fallen for it for a few Summers myself; it seems like the healthy thing to do. The truth is that there is nothing healthy about a tan — no matter how you get it (well, unless it came from a bottle). A recent editorial piece on MSNBC tells it like it is when it comes to base tanning and brings us back down to reality. My favorite quote is the following:

A tan, Dr. William James, a professor of dermatology at Penn., said, represents nothing more than damage to the skin. It is the body trying to defend itself against an environmental hazard — too much UV light. In other words, indoor tanning gets you ready for the beach in the same way that getting scalded in a hot tub gets you ready to be boiled alive.

Gross, eh? Trust me, I like to look tan as much as the next person. I have inner dialogs with myself about it every time I hit the beach. But then I hear quotes like this from dermatologists and it reminds me that a tan, while popular by fashion industry standards, is really nothing more than damaged skin. And to me, nothing is cool about damaging the largest organ in my body. What do you guys think? Are you still going to be basing?

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