Tanning Salon and Teen

Updated on May 29, 2010
M.C. asks from Ann Arbor, MI
18 answers

Hi Moms,

I've been talking to my 15 year old daughter about the dangers of tanning using tanning salons. I don't want her to tan, but she lives with her dad and he allows it. She has olive toned skin whereas I have fair, so she thinks that it is okay for her to tan....so says her dad! All of her girlfriends tan and she thinks that makes it okay. Perhaps I am being a little too obsessed with this issue, but she is 15 and I think she should wait until she's an adult to make this decision. I've explained the dangers to her, but it is falling on deaf ears. Her dad says it isn't a big deal. I would feel horrible if she gets a skin disease. Any advice?

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answers from Atlanta on

Most teens don't worry about dying of skin cancer...they are too into their looks. I used to tan a lot in high school and had basal cell carcinoma at the age of 21. I have a big scar on my chest from it. I also have really bad night vision even though I wore the goggles. I would try to scare her with information regarding wrinkles and scars from skin cancer etc. I also think that she needs a parent's consent to use the tanning bed until she is 16 (at least that was the way it was 10 years ago). Try to get her dad on board with you. Good luck!

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answers from Kalamazoo on

You can't control what dad does. Sorry he's not being supportive. Take her to a dermatologist and see what they say, that will be a wake up call if there's an issues, and maybe some "big guns" on convincing her dad to support you.

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answers from Indianapolis on

There was a study released this week showing that people who use tanning beds are up to 4X as likely to develop melanoma:

I have olive skin from my dad's Italian heritage, and I've been to a tanning bed once in my life - it's not worth the risk.

Interestingly, tanning beds can be good for some people in small doses. My FIL has psoriasis, and 90 seconds/day helps the condition.

BUT, the risks are SO high. At 15 she thinks she's invincible, and I did to until almost 2 years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer 2 days before my 33rd birthday, the day before my son's second birthday, and just before my daughter turned 11 weeks old. Believe me, cancer is a risk, and it's real, and it's awful to go through treatment.

So here are some links that may be helpful in her really understanding the risk despite Dad's ignorance on the issue. I'm including the website for a girl I went to high school with (she would be 35 right now) who died from melanoma, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer.

New people know that your skin is the largest organ in your body. It's really critical to treat it well because of how susceptible it is to so many different things.




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answers from Chicago on

Take her to a dermatologist, and have her get a better prospective from a 3rd party.
I think what happens with people who use the tanning booths is that the endorphins create a sort of a high, and they feel good and get addicted.

I never tanned that much when I was younger, but I still have some spots, and moles that I get checked every year.

I have done the mystic spray tans and they work great.

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answers from Richmond on

simple, grasshopper. show her unretouched photos of women and men who have spent years under a tanning lamp..very scary. i am olive skinned myself and you wouldnt catch me dead in a tanning salon because it
bakes your skin, hasnt she ever seen a rotisserie chicken ?
K. h.

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answers from Detroit on

As a teen skin cancer is probably not going to scare her. Teens think they are undestructable! What may catch her attention is what she is doing to her skin on a beauty level. A few simple pictures of 25 year old women with leather faces may change her mind.

I used to tan as a teen and didn't think anything of it...even with those BRIGHT YELLOW signs warning about skin cancer. I didn't care. I stopped after high school though. Those friends of mine who didn't stop however look a good 10 to 15 years older than they should!

I would suggest a nice spray tan if she really HAS to do it. A spray tan doesn't give you an orange hugh and it is much safer than laying in a bed of UV lights.

Do take her to the dermatologist just so you can have someone else on your side.

Such a bummer that her daddy isn't on board enought to help you protect your daughter. Why is it that men stay teens no matter how old they get?

I hope you can find a way to help her stop tanning. Take care and God bless!



answers from Indianapolis on

You need to watch today's Good Morning America, they did a great segment on this. Make she and her dad watch it too.


answers from Dallas on

Tanning beds are bad news as you already know.

I know here in TX, there is talk of a new law (it may already be in place) that if anyone under 15 goes to the salon, they must have a parent with them and signed ok from parent to tan.

I have olive skin thanks to my Native American genes but I am aware that ANYBODY can get skin cancer. I don't burn, I tan very easily and well but I use caution.

Maybe as a proactive approach, take your daughter to a dermatologist and have a Dr. explain this to her and show her some examples of what can happen.

Shame on dad for undermining you.

Good luck


answers from Kansas City on

15 is super young. personally i live in a pretty affluent town and when i was planning a big trip to florida last year i tanned for a couple months just so that i could focus on my three year old and if i was too rushed to put sunscreen on myself for an hour or two, wouldn't fry to a crisp. it worked great. HOWEVER. i was really disgusted by all the "teeny-boppers" that i saw there, who obviously did it ALL the time, EVERY year. there are signs in one of the rooms explaining how just because you are dark skinned doesn't mean you won't get damage from the bulbs. people with dark skin (i believe i have heard) get actually more skin cancer/problems from the sun and/or tanning, because many times they think their darker complexion exempts them. it doesn't. tell her to look it up and do a little research on skin cancer.

having said that she is 15 and "all the other girls are doing it" is a perfectly acceptable reason in her mind. that combined with her father's ignorance basically makes this an unwinnable battle for you. all i can say is educate her and hope she wises up. i think this is a really ignorant trend. i really think it is one of those things that should be done sparingly, if at all. the more you go, the more you risk.

PS, not only all of that, but IT'S SO EXPENSIVE! what a waste of money!


answers from Norfolk on

I just read an article this morning about tanning bed users tripling their chances of developing skin cancer.
"Nearly 70,000 people in the U.S. got a melanoma diagnosis in 2009 and more than 8,000 died from the disease, according to estimates from the National Cancer Institute. Melanoma is deadly because it can invade deep into tissues and spread to other parts of the body, unlike other types of skin cancer, which are relatively easy to remove. Melanoma is the second-most-common cancer among people ages 15 to 29, and appears to be on the rise overall."
According to Dr. Lynn Drake, the health benefits of tanning -- as opposed to limited sun exposure -- are a myth. "A healthy tan is an oxymoron," she says. "A tan is simply a response to injury, whether it's obtained indoors or outdoors."
In India people are spending large amounts of money to lighten their skin. Why can't people just be happy with the skin they've got?
The 15 yr old will not listen to you. You have to convince your ex that this activity could put her life in danger to get him to put a stop to it. If communication is not good between you, your message will not get through.



answers from Wheeling on

Geez... A 15 yr old girl knows EVERYTHING, you know (and they know even more in the next couple of years)! Sounds like she likes the 'control game', and TELLING her what YOU think just challenges her. If you want to get things across to her (about ANY subject of importance), I think you're going to have to do it with a little more diplomacy -- talk as her 'friend' instead of as her 'boss'. Ask her what's HER opinion and feelings about 'whatever' and why. Let her talk and only offer feedback as if she's a grown friend of yours. I think she'll be more receptive. If you're getting more and more frustrated about a subject, then SHE has control -- which I'd guess is her main agenda, and NOT the actual subject at hand!

You're NOT too obsessed with this issue, but being able to actually commuincate with her is the BIGGER issue in the long run; so I highly recommend that you learn to curb your 'feelings' and simply ALLOW (and subtly assist) her to making her OWN correct decisions about such things.

Everyone has a different temperament. Picture this: a mom is talking to a small child. She stands over him/her wagging her finger and frowning while reprimanding him/her. That works with some kids (not your daughter). Now, imagine that same mom sitting on a little chair, the couch or the floor beside the child and 'discussing' (the same issue) calmly back and forth. That's the scenario you'll probably need to strive for w/your daughter.



answers from Detroit on

You might find some articles about the dangers of tanning online, print them off and make her AND her dad read them. It is important to get SOME REAL sunshine every day. Tanning beds don't have the same types of rays that make the Vitamin D that we all need. I read an article a few years ago stating that these two young girls both fried their ovaries by tanning too much :( I hope you cna get through to them...good Luck!



answers from Charlotte on

I just heard on NPR about a new study on tanning salons on adults......those who use them are 74% more likely to develop melanoma! 74%!!! How can we let these places still operate just because of our obsession with looking "golden"?

Have you bought your daughter some self-tanning lotion/spray? I know dealing with ex's can be difficult.

in a hurry and can't find the link to the new study right now, but here's one to new FDA regs being considered for tanning salons:



answers from Detroit on

So sad. I am afraid this isn't a battle you can win. Encourage her to protect her skin with sunscreen.

Good luck.


answers from Cincinnati on

Please tell her and her father about my friend (30) who just had to have a chunk of skin removed from her nose because she had skin cancer on her face! And now, she is left with an unattractive hole on her nose. She is devastated. She too was olive and had great skin for tanning....

BTW, it's very nice out now. Why is she using the tanning bed? If she wants a tan, she needs to sit outside with spf15 and she will still get a nice tan. 90% of people are vitamin D deficient and a little sun is good for you!!!! You're not getting any vitamins from a tanning bed!



answers from Detroit on

Do you have joint custody? You should have some say in what is and is not allowed. If your really concerned, you should think about getting the courts involved. She is still a minor and does not know what's best for her.



answers from Orlando on

Born and raised here in Orlando, my friends and I were always on the quest for the "perfect tan". We didn't use tanning beds, but loved baby oil and good 'ol Ban De Soleil which made you nice and crispy. I have worked in the cosmetics industry for 18 years now and get young clients all the time who go to tanning salons. I always cringe and then tell them it is not the best for them and they won't know it until many years down the road when they will have leathery, spotted skin. Usually I approach it from this vanity issue and that will sink in more than the skin cancer issue, because they think it won't happen to them as they are invincible. Have you suggested she spray tan instead? Self tanner is the way to go. They have salons that do this. Much safer. But she would still need sunscreen as a "tan" does not protect you. It means your skin is already damaged and is turning a darker color to protect itself.



answers from Minneapolis on


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