alt=an exasperated woman with big shiny tanning salon ads behind her

"Eat, Sleep, Tan, Repeat?" Are You Kidding Me?

Local tanning salons are NOT throwing in the towel. I won’t give them credit for much, but I have to say they are persistent. They are nothing if not hellbent on broadening their customer base year around. In addition to the usual package deals advertised on their signs, they are now encouraging our small town to make tanning as much a part of their routine as eating and sleeping–I kid you not. Can you tell I am not a fan?

What did I just see?

Advertising designed for teens

While shopping recently, I took a glance at the marquee sign in front of the local tanning salon. I always make a point to note how they are luring in customers. No longer a tanner myself due to a melanoma diagnosis followed by multiple skin cancer diagnoses, I sort of loathe the techniques and gimmicks they use to scout for new users.

Adults are impressionable enough when it comes to tanning, but the fact that teens are drawn into this unhealthy habit is even more frightening. Many of their slogans are geared toward teens during prom season and spring break.

The tanning salon, with its own catchy name I won’t mention here, has a new sign on display. They proudly proclaim that we should all “Eat, Sleep, Tan, Repeat.” I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean, after all, I was a tanning addict. That was basically my own unvoiced mantra for far too many years. It’s difficult to see it in black and white and know that this salon is likely contributing to increasing incidents of skin cancer.

Real talk–I have weak moments now and again when I miss the heat of the lamps and the smell of the tanning accelerator, but my scars and my Efudex memories keep me far from darkening their doorway.

How are they still in business?

Over the last two or three years, I have seen tanning salons in my area come and go. Each time I see one disappear, I think progress is being made. Then, as quickly as I start to think positively, a new sign or Facebook post appears and we have a shiny new business up and running and ready to serve up “hot, hot bulbs” and “the best accelerators around.”

Don’t get me wrong. Progress is being made. I do see more people shunning the sun. I have more friends now who use sunscreen than ten years ago. Each year, the selection of clothes with UV protection gets better.

We still have a long way to go, though. Until tanning salons either shut down completely or at least stop offering devices that emit dangerous UV rays, we are going to have a disproportionate number of skin cancer patients. I am speaking as a skin cancer patient who was told point-blank that my tanning habits led to my sun damage and subsequent basal and squamous cell carcinomas.

What can we do?

Don't encourage tanning

Don’t go in. It’s as ridiculously as simple as that. Don’t go in. Don’t encourage others to tan. Tell loved ones they look great without a tan and that their skin will look healthier longer if they use sunscreen and stay pale. Drive by their signs and take the money you would spend on a package deal and buy yourself something nice. You will thank yourself later.

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