Indoor tanning is quick, but can be as harmful as the sun |

Indoor tanning is quick, but can be as harmful as the sun

Ronda Sluder

Despite all the warnings of premature aging and threats of skin cancer, indoor tanning is alive and well in South Lake Tahoe.

The “fake-and-bake” method is quick, but the medical community has come down hard on the practice. The benefits, proponents claim, outweigh any underlying concern of sun damage.

“Tans should be done gradually and with intelligence – a smart tan,”

said Reve Ramos, owner of Electric Beach tanning salon. “Tahoe is a dangerous place because the burn rays aren’t filtered out at this altitude. Skin will heal but if it keeps getting burned it won’t. The sun is a nuclear fireball and we must respect it.”

It takes only 15 minutes to get a sunburn in Tahoe. Ramos says the damage of that burn can be minimized by having a base tan. This is the reasoning used by vacation-goers who opt to tan before they go on a Caribbean vacation.

“If I felt I was really damaging anyone, I would not be in this business,” Ramos said. “I feel I can help people by preventing their getting burned. I know people are going to tan regardless, so I just want them to protect themselves first. Everything living needs the sun. It’s just the amount that’s important.”

But according to Dr. Martin Salm of Tahoe Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology Center, that golden tan, regardless of whether it’s artificial or authentic, has its consequences.

“Tanning beds use a UVA ray that is very strong with bad side effects,” Salm said. “It penetrates deeper into the skin, which is more prone to cause wrinkling and pigment discoloration. Many people think tanning beds are safe but in reality they cause skin cancer.”

Although the concerns are real, people still flock to Electric Beach for that golden glow.

“Summer is coming and I don’t want to go out and scare people,” joked customer Erin Miller.

Stephanie Hanson agreed.

“I do it (tan) but I still worry about it,” she said. “I just feel healthier when I’m tan though.”

For those who want to get the look without the health risks, Dr. Salm recommends self-tanning lotions.

“Get a fake tan out of a can,” he said. “Lotions are the safe way to go.”

Kathy Rohlfing, manager of Clinique at Macy’s, said self-tanning lotions are growing in popularity despite some misconception that they give a blotchy or streaked appearance.

“The only way they blotch or streak is through wrong application,” Rohlfing said. “You need to exfoliate your body before applying to remove dead skin cells.”

Once the product is applied correctly, Rohlfing said no one can tell the bronzed look came from a bottle. Each application lasts for three days.

“It looks very natural and you can’t even smell it,” she said. “It’s smarter for people to go this direction rather than going to a tanning bed. It’s all about educating people that tanning beds are just as harmful as the real sun. More people are opting for self-tanning lotion. It’s a product that works.”

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