In general, in-door tanning is not recommended (that is. if the CDC can be trusted).
It has something to do with the increased risk of skin cancer for each minute spent under the golden, glowing bulbs. In spite of the well-known and scientifically supported evidence of this, I still decided to take the risk last week. The temptation of feeling warm light on my face after what seemed like an eternity of cold and grey weather was too great to resist. After all, it was free tan week.
When I entered the tanning salon, it was packed with other pale faced Hoosiers. I was surprised that so many other people were able to disregard such strong warnings of danger associated with tanning beds. Just then, a red faced, blonde teen burst through the door, bringing with her a whiff of tanning lotion and burned skin.
We reached the counter at the same time and she started drumming the countertop with French-tipped nails, like she was in a hurry to catch skin cancer. I took a more leisurely approach, assuming that the cancer, premature wrinkling, and sun spots would wait for me as long as it took to check into a bed.
The cashier raised her perfectly manicured eyebrow at the blonde who continued to tap on the counter.
“Hi, I just tanned earlier today across town and I wanted to tan again. Is that ok?”
This is where someone with common sense should have intervened to stop the proposed baking of the girl’s organs. I, for one, was mesmerized by the humming of the machines and hot air escaping from the cracks in the line of doors and wasn’t about to stand in anyone’s way.
“Oh, you want to double dip,” the cashier said.
Smiling, the girl nodded in the simple pleasure of being understood in so few words.
“Of course, you can. We actually recommend it on free tan week.”
My jaw dropped and then I looked around for that person with common sense whom I expected to step in just a few seconds earlier. Surely that person would intervene now.
“In fact,” the cashier continued and stepped away from the counter and produced a colorful bottle from underneath of it, “we recommend that you use this lotion afterwards to seal in all that color you will get.”
“I’ll take it,” the girl said. The price and/or risk were of no concern.
As I pulled the lid of my tanning bed over my body and started the machine, I reflected on what just happened and decided the following about recommendations. 1. People lie to people who don’t want the truth. 2. We get just what we are willing take. 3. Winter in the Midwest is depressing, so I took 20 minutes of safe and recommended artificial sun.
Other recommendations on tanning, for the interested reader: