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Tanning and Skin Cancer: The Struggle is Real

Tanning and Skin Cancer: The Struggle is Real

Growing up, I always tried to get a tan because that’s just what we did in Florida in the 70s and 80s. Unfortunately, I have red hair, green eyes, and fair skin. I tan eventually, but I’m prone to burning and that’s exactly what I did quite often as a teenager. Coming back to school after Spring Break with a sunburn was almost a badge of honor. It meant that you had fun on your break and obviously spent some time at the beach; never mind that a lot of my tanning was done in the backyard.

Tanning made easier

After I got a little older, indoor tanning became a thing. It was so satisfying lying in a bed or standing in a booth a few minutes each week, listening to music and getting a nice coat of color on my skin. Not only that, but it was something I could relate to with co-workers. Some of us would join the same tanning salons and go on our lunch breaks or after work. It was camaraderie, as well as trying to look good.

Tanning and skin cancer risks

I didn’t get my first sign of skin cancer until I was in my early 30s and then another more serious basal cell carcinoma about four years ago. Of course, over the years we have all heard how indoor tanning is not good for you, just like baking in the sun isn’t good for you. Even the American Academy of Dermatology has stated that indoor tanning can increase the risk of skin cancer – including melanoma. This is especially true for those who start before the age of 35 and there is an increase with every time you go.1

I miss tanning

There, I’ve said it – I still miss getting a tan. Sure, I can get spray tans and I do that quite often. However, there’s that pull towards the tanning booth every time I go to the gym because it’s included in my membership. I miss the peaceful feeling of the warmth on my skin and how I look once I achieve that glow.

However, it’s not worth increasing my chances of another skin cancer. I already have a deep scar on my face and a smaller one from the first cancer. I’ll have to stick with spray tans for now and besides, even the cast of Jersey Shore now uses spray tans instead of booth or bed tanning. I guess if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

The point is that I understand how something that isn’t good for you can still be something you crave doing. Do you miss getting a tan after a skin cancer diagnosis?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. Dangers of Indoor Tanning.


  • suedt
    2 years ago

    As a kid through my 40’s there was always a pool to swim in and I never really burned much and got lightly tan. But when I was in my 30’s I saw a white spot on my foot and thought I had just a drop too much of sunscreen there. Turns out I have vitiligo which had progressed over the years and I use sunscreen and self tanners otherwise the patches of white vitiligo really show up against any sun exposed skin that gains a touch of color from the sun. So I find it funny,not, that I have a basil cell on my face after years of avoiding the sun. I don’t miss soaking up the sun and tanning at all. I do miss not needing to use sunscreen on a daily basis no matter if it is trip to the store …

  • Nina M moderator
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story here, @suedt! Your perspective with vitiligo is a new one. It is a pretty cruel joke that you should get basal cell despite intentionally avoiding the biggest risk factor. I’m glad you never got a taste for tanning, but definitely can see the stress of remembering and applying sunscreen for the smallest things. While this article is a slightly different take, Scott talks about sun protection fatigue here: – Nina, Team

  • lpetchen
    2 years ago

    I don’t miss tanning at all. If i do get any sun exposure on my skin, it always just blotches anyway. In fact, when I see women (it’s almost ALWAYS women) with those dark tans, all I can see is sun damage and skin cancer in their futures. Nope, don’t miss it.

  • Nina M moderator
    2 years ago

    I’m glad you don’t have to deal with the added stress of missing tanning, @lpetchen! Skin cancer is stressful enough. When I’m feeling optimistic, I hope that those are spray tans, but odds are many of them aren’t. I wish I could throw one of our skin cancer stories to them! – Nina, Team

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