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Sunless Tanning Products May Encourage Sun Safety in Women

Posted: September 24, 2010

Does your spa encourage skin health? If so, it is important to not offering indoor tanning services at your establishment. Instead, promote and retail sunless tanning products. Consider hosting a sunless tanning event that teaches your spa clients and their friends and children about the correct way to apply sunless tanning products for a streak-free--and safe--tan.

About one in 10 U.S. adolescents use sunless tanning products, and an intervention promoting these products as an alternative to regular tanning may reduce sunbathing and sunburns among adult women, according to two reports in the September issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure was recently upgraded to the highest cancer risk category and is the most common avoidable cause of skin cancer, according to background information in the articles. Sunless tanning products offer an alternative method of achieving tanned skin without exposure to UV rays from the sun or from indoor tanning beds. Most of these lotions and sprays contain dihydroxyacetone, a compound that combines with amino acids in the skin's outer layer to stain the skin a tanned color.

In one article, Vilma E. Cokkinides, PhD, of the American Cancer Society, Atlanta, and colleagues assessed the use of sunless tanning products among U.S. adolescents using a nationally representative telephone survey conducted between July and October 2004. A total of 1,600 adolescents age 11 to 18 provided information about whether they used these products in the past year, along with details about demographics, skin type, attitudes and perceptions of sunless tanning and other sun-related behaviors.

Of the teens surveyed, 10.8% reported using sunless tanning products in the past year. Those who used them tended to be older and female, to perceive a tanned appearance as desirable, to have a parent or caregiver who also used these products and to hold positive beliefs or attitudes about them. In addition, the use of sunless tanning products was associated with indoor tanning bed use and a higher frequency of sunburn.