A hand with hairstyling scissors cuts through a speech bubble with a tanning bed.

A Deep Dark Tan and a Hair Salon Hero

While I was at a hair appointment recently, I noticed one of the other customers in the salon. She stood out from the other customers, to me at least, because she had a very deep dark tan. As she walked by me, I could smell the unmistakable scent of tanning bed. You know the smell; that burnt skin smell.

I really wanted to warn her

I admit it: I cringed. I wanted to ask her if she understood how much damage she could be doing to her skin. I wanted to ask her if she realized that more cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States due to tanning than are cases of lung cancer because of smoking. I wanted to ask her what she was thinking!

It's hard to keep quiet

But I didn’t. I didn’t want to be seen as a crazy lady. If I had known her, I may have been tempted to mention these things to her. If I had noticed any signs of possible skin cancer on her skin, I would have more than likely mentioned to her that she might want to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. Instead, I kept my mouth shut, and hoped she wasn’t going to be faced with years of skin cancer treatments down the road. And I fretted. Sometimes it is really hard to keep my mouth shut when it comes to sun damage and skin cancer awareness.

Her stylist spoke up!

I was elated, however, when I overheard this woman’s stylist asking her if she ever had her skin examined by a dermatologist. The client said she had not, and the stylist went on to explain how much damage could be done by going to tanning beds. I wanted to jump in and echo her sentiments, but again, I stayed quiet.

She didn't seem interested

It was obvious that the client was not at all interested in hearing about sun damage, but I have to commend the stylist for trying. I have noticed that same stylist several times when I have been in the salon, and one thing that stands out is her beautiful complexion. She has very light-toned skin, and I cannot see any sun damage or wrinkles on her face even though I’m pretty sure she’s in her 50’s (although admittedly, I am a terrible judge of age).

Skin damage can be so apparent

I was hoping the client also noticed the smooth complexion of the stylist. Those of us who did a lot of damage to our skin when we were younger (and those who continue to do a lot of damage to their skin) might very well be seeing signs of sun damage, such as wrinkles, sun spots, or leathery skin, not to mention skin cancer areas. This client was definitely showing signs of sun damage, even though I’m estimating she was younger.

Don't make the same mistakes that we did

If you are reading this and can see yourself in the client, please know this: We have a multitude of people in this community who spent far too long lying in the sun when we were younger, or spent time in the tanning beds trying to get that "perfect" tan, and we are now paying the price. If only we knew then what we know now, we would have taken much better care of our skin.

It isn’t too late for you. Take good care of your skin!

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