Use of Self-Tanner Doesn't Mean Teens Are Safe in the Sun

Filed under: In The News, Health & Safety: Tweens, Research Reveals: Tweens, Health & Safety: Teens, Research Reveals: Teens

tanning lotion

Self-tanning teens aren't necessarily keeping away the sun's rays. Credit: Getty

As the sunny days of summer fade into distant memories, it's time to look in the mirror and face the truth: You looked so much better with a tan.

Teenagers seem to know that as well as anyone, with more than one in 10 of them using sunless tanning products. That should be good news, right? Fewer sunburns and less UV ray exposure means reduced chances of skin cancer in the future.

But slathering on the self-tanner may not be the saving grace we think it is. A new study says that, in fact, the use of sunless tanning products is associated with "risky UV radiation exposure-related behaviors," according to a report to be published in the Archives of Dermatology.

Researchers called 1,600 adolescents between the ages of 11 and 18 and found that 10.8 percent of them had used a tanning cream, spray or other self-administered sunless tanning product in the previous year. The researchers didn't ask about services such as spray-on tans.

According to the report, tanning cream users were more likely to be white, to be girls and to be older than 16, than those who didn't use the creams. They also were more likely to think tanning sprays or creams are a safer way to bronze than to sit in the sun or use a tanning bed, and to have a parent or caregiver who also used creams or sprays.

Use of bronzing products, though, was associated with other risk factors, including use of tanning beds and a higher frequency of sunburn. It wasn't associated with sunscreen use, the report says.

"Adolescents ... must be educated about these products and the importance of avoiding indoor tanning and practicing sun-protective behaviors," the report states.

Related: Sun-Sensitive Wristband Helps Shun Sunburns


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.