Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Is tanning really worth it?

It seems immature that we put ourselves in danger strictly over our appearance

(Cristian Viarisio/ Creative Commons/ Flickr)

(Cristian Viarisio/ Creative Commons/ Flickr)

(Cristian Viarisio/ Creative Commons/ Flickr)

By Cassandra McGrath, Collegian Columnist

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I sat shivering in my house this spring break, scrolling through photos of my friends smiling on beaches and drinking out of coconuts. When we return to campus, it is clear who went south simply by their tans, perfectly crafted during their trip. As summer approaches, more and more people talk about how excited they are to sit out in the sun and roast their bodies until they are close to sun poisoning. Everyone has heard their elders warn them about the risks of laying out in the sun. However, we care less and less with each degree that the temperature rises. Some even joke about how they know they are risking skin cancer, but simply cannot go through the summer without achieving that perfect color. When I was growing up, I completely gave into this idea. I wanted perfect tan skin, just like everybody else. Now that I am older, though, I am appalled about just how accepted sunbathing is in our society.

First and foremost, it is important to mention the science behind the problems with tanning. When you lay out, the sun actively destroys fibers in your skin that make it smooth and tight. This in turn leads to wrinkles, freckles and blemishes on the skin. We have all heard this before, but have we actually thought about it? How do so many people justify ruining their body for a few weeks of having darker skin? Tanning has consequences that will affect our bodies for the rest of our lives. If people tan to improve their appearance, they are doing themselves an injustice because quite frankly, it will only make them look worse in the long run. It doesn’t make sense that we prioritize the limited amount of satisfaction from a few weeks of being tan over the condition and health of our skin for the rest of adulthood.

As our tans begin to fade, many people look toward indoor tanning to maintain that sun-kissed glow. We all know that this is dangerous and terrible for our skin. However, I am not convinced that we are informed of just how hazardous this is. In fact, going into a tanning bed when you are under the age of 35 raises your risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Essentially, when a person steps into a tanning bed they are risking their life solely for their appearance. It is illegal to use a tanning bed if you are under 18 years old in 16 states in this country, but there is not much regulation otherwise. At the end of the day, it is your body and you have the choice to do whatever you want with it, but I cannot help but question how people allow themselves to care so much about the color of their skin. It should not be as accepted in our society to risk our health over having tan skin. Not only is it irresponsible, but it seems immature that we put ourselves in danger strictly over our appearance.

If you are looking to still enjoy the summer, but want to avoid risking the consequences of the sun, here are some tips. Although it is impossible to take back the damage you have already done, it is still important to seek out ways to avoid skin damage. Above all, one should always wear sunscreen and reapply regularly. It is also helpful to wear protective clothing such as sunglasses, hats and coverups that allow you to shade yourself from the UV damage. Experts also suggest visiting a dermatologist and frequently checking your skin for unusual markings. This is a good way to make sure that you are not in danger of skin cancer. Finally, research shows that foods such as citrus, green tea, carrots and red bell peppers can help to fight against the sun’s harsh rays. So, if you know you are going to the beach or out on the boat, you could pack some of these foods as snacks.

When you are young, it can be hard to think about ever getting old and having to worry about the damage you caused to your skin as a kid. However, it is certainly not worth the frustration. Tans fade, but your health will always be important.

Cassandra McGrath is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]


8 Responses to “Is tanning really worth it?”

  1. Sitting Bull on March 22nd, 2018 9:27 am

    Great advice. I have seen people, particularly women, age 5-10 years practically overnight around age 30. It’s not a pretty thing and can wreck self-esteem. I still remember a young woman in my beach house whose nickname was “Leather” due to excessive tanning. And she was only 24. If you want to keep a youthful appearance well into your older years (40’s and 50’s), you basically have to do these things: 1) manage exposure to sunlight (but on the contrary, get enough to avoid Vitamin D deficiency), 2) drink a lot of water, 3) avoid sugar as much as possible, 4) physical exercise = cardio + resistance training 3x-5x per week, and 5) and do NOT smoke. Tobacco (and pot) suck moisture from the skin, particularly in the face. Ever see older people who are lifelong smokers? They have those smokers’ wrinkles around the lips and cheeks that make them look like an old lady in American Horror Story. It seems hard to imagine as an 18 or 20 year old, but in just a few short years, you will reach your physical peak, and then the decline begins right around age 30. By the time many people hit 33-35, they are a mess physically. All behaviors, good and bad, are cumulative. There doesn’t seem to be any effect, and then BOOM, bad things happen in a landslide. Conversely, good habits like working out accumulate over time.

  2. John Aimo on March 22nd, 2018 5:37 pm

    Words of wisdom from someone named “sitting bull’

  3. Alfred McGrath on March 22nd, 2018 12:44 pm

    Spot on Cassie. I just had minor surgery on my nose to remove cancer cells-( Successfully) I have what is known as “Irish skin” making me more vulnerable to damaging sun rays.
    With sunnier days approaching, your article is most timely.

  4. John Aimo on March 22nd, 2018 5:41 pm

    This article acts like it was written by a vampire. Sunlight and to an extent artificial light, is good for you. In fact artificial florescent lights similar to tanning beds are used as a form of therapy for seasonal affective disorder.

    Going out in the sun is good for you, it provides you vitamin D, it improves your mood, there are lots of known benefits of going out in the sun, getting sun exposure. Long-term tanning in tanning beds or sun tan is known to increase your of sun cancer; but to go tanning every now and then or a few times a year I don’t think is going to cause you any harm. It might actually benefit you.

    Let’s be honest girls with tans, look far more attractive than those without them and partly because they pay more attention to their overall appearance. You should be aware of the risks/drawbacks of tanning but if you want to go to tanning to improve your mood and your appearance, than go ahead and do it.

  5. RJM on March 23rd, 2018 5:53 pm

    When you make generalizations like “girls with tans are more attractive”, please be sure to include “TO ME”. Great article that in no way insinuates going outside is a bad thing. Name calling (vampire) is bullish and insensitive. Skin cancer is a huge problem in our society. Make your case, leave out the name calling, and avoid generalizations in a personal reply to an opinion article.

  6. Marc on March 22nd, 2018 8:06 pm

    Here are a few facts about regular, non-burning tanning that may change your minds:
    •Women who actively tan have half the risk of death compared with those who avoid the sun.
    •A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip-fracture risk as those who avoid sun.
    •Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
    •Women who avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
    •Sun exposure increases nitric oxide production, which leads to a decrease in heart disease risk.
    •Sun exposure dramatically improves mood through the production of serotonin and endorphin.
    Sun exposure increases the production of BDNF, essential to a properly functioning nervous system.
    For more information: Sunlight Institute website:

  7. John aimo on March 23rd, 2018 1:49 pm

    Exactly, that is my point. It’s like the author is a vampire. Tanning does have health risks if you abuse it like anything else. You can also die from water intoxication.

    Us normal human beings in the world on the basis of common sense as well as facts like those provided, will go out into the sun while the sulky vampires who hate the world and all the beautiful people with great tans will stay in their basements(and possibly basement newspaper office in the campus center)

  8. John aimo on March 23rd, 2018 2:25 pm

    I made a typo on the last point, but you can get my point. The beautiful people will be out in the sun while the sulky vampires are hanging out in the basement.

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