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Solariums are ageing too

Date
Accelerated ageing ... solarium use increases the risk of wrinkles and pigmentation.

Accelerated ageing ... solarium use increases the risk of wrinkles and pigmentation. Photo: Jacky Ghossein

How are you going to tan up for spring? Are you going to make yourself look older to do it? Solariums are still the method of choice for many people despite the well publicised medical risks. Like smokers, solarium users choose the short-term fix over long-term health implications. Sure solariums may be linked to the development of cancer but hey, they give the good colour. And it's all about looking good, right? ''It's pure UV, basically,'' says Dr Alicia Teska, a Melbourne cosmetic surgeon. ''What many users don't appreciate is that solariums speed up photo-ageing changes in the skin.''

As well as tanned, skin becomes thinner, wrinklier and more pigmented with solarium use. ''The solarium acts like the sun,'' Dr Teska says. ''It's definitely not great for melanoma or skin ageing.'' She thinks solariums should be banned. So too does SunSmart Victoria. It's using the fifth anniversary of the death to melanoma of 26-year-old Clare Oliver to call for a national ban on solariums. NSW is already on the case - it has outlawed solariums from the start of 2014. A Cancer Council of Victoria spokeswoman says: ''These machines are dangerous, unnecessary, outdated and irrefutably linked to cancer.''

Jess Corless has reduced her solarium visits drastically from her teenage years when she went every second day. The 22-year-old swimming instructor now limits her visits to once a week. ''The chlorine bleaches your skin and it's hard to get colour,'' she says. ''Back when I was younger looking lovely for summer was so important and I wasn't taking health into consideration. Now I've woken up to myself and have other things to worry about. It does use a lot of money.'' Casual session are about $16 but Corless used to opt for the unlimited 20-day passes. ''A lot of girls I know and associate with and a couple of guys definitely go to solariums all the time,'' she says. ''Spray tans are popular too but solariums build up colour and last longer.''
Do you too use a solarium? Or has the health message led you to cut your visits or stop them? Is it true that solariums are almost addictive? Is the risk of wrinkles a deterrent if the risk of melanoma is not? Be honest. How will you be tanning as the weather warms up?

27 comments so far

  • I used to go twice a week in the lead up to an event or summer, but since spray tans have become better, that's my chosen method of tanning.

    In the winter, sometimes I'll have a short session once a fortnight. Just makes me feel warm and awake.

    Commenter
    Rebecca
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    September 06, 2012, 10:31AM
    • Used them a bit when i was in my early 20s, until i took a good look at my aunty that was a tanning addict, at 40, her skin looked mid 50s. I'm 32 now, spend about 20 mins max a day in the sun and go for artificial tans with a moisturiser.

      Commenter
      Sez80
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      September 06, 2012, 11:24AM
      • I've never been able to understand why people go to solariums. They obviously care a lot about how they look, but in the end tanning makes you look like an old boot. It's a helluva lot easier to avoid looking leathery in the first place than it is to undo the damage of years of tanning. Sunscreen and keeping out of hte sun during the hottest part of the dare are far more effective than anti-wrinkle creams and a lot cheaper than costmetic surgery.

        I won't be tanning for summer, apart from the slight colour I get while out and about wearing sunscreen. I have fair skin and I'm OK with that...now anyway. In my teens I sunbaked - yes, with Reef tanning oil! - to try and get a tan because all my friends had one. I'm lucky that I didn't keep it up long enough to do serious skin damage. I'm 40 but have few wrinkles.

        We need to overcome this notion that you need a tan to look healthy. In recent years we are seeing far more celebrities saying no to fake tan and showing off their fair skin - Christina Hendricks, Dita Von Teese, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett to name a few. I haven't heard anyone saying these women look unhealhty. In fact, they are lauded for their beautiful skin.

        Why, oh why, can't the rest of us follow their lead? Throw out the fake tan and wear your pale pelt with pride!

        Commenter
        JEM
        Location
        Melb
        Date and time
        September 06, 2012, 11:46AM
        • I used to go to the solarium years ago, in my early 20s. And I loved it. The ritual of laying there in the warmth was extremely relaxing, time for me, and to come out feeling healthier and glowy, well, to be honest I miss those days.
          Being someone who didnt go in the sun at any other time, I feel my use of the solarium probably gave me everything I missed out on from the sun. I actually felt better for it.
          Now I do not use them and have not for years but I do think about it from time to time. I go to the beach and see women laying in the sun for hours on end, hours. Day after day. It is a no brainer to me that this is much more damaging than 10-20 minutes under a solarium light, yes, even when taking into account the increased power of the rays the solarium light radiates.
          I miss my solarium days.

          Commenter
          Used to
          Date and time
          September 06, 2012, 12:26PM
          • ...I think there is a misconception that using sunbeds is the same as tanning in the sun. IT'S NOT. It's a far stronger heat with the direct UVA and UVB light going straight into your skin in extremely intense doses. It's absolute rubbish if you think it's the same as lying out on the beach. Though, lying on the beach for more than 10 - 20 minutes is also dangerous! Slip, slop, slap people - it's not that hard to understand. Here's some facts, just in case you think it's still a joke: 1) People who had ever used solariums had a 15% increased risk of developing malignant melanoma (the most dangerous type of skin cancer); 2) People who first used solariums in their teens or before the age of 35 had a 75% increased risk of developing melanoma, however a more recent review suggests that the increased risk of melanoma could be as high as 98%, and 3) People who had ever used solariums have an increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma (a type of non- melanoma skin cancer). Now do you get it?

            Commenter
            Ashykay
            Location
            Brisbane
            Date and time
            September 06, 2012, 2:42PM
          • @Ashykay
            Yes, I do see what you are saying and am in agreeance. However you missed the point i made that I believe 10-20 minutes in the solarium EVEN TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE INCREASED RAYS is less damage than 5-6 hours in the sun. It is - there is no argument - it is safer than the exact examples I gave. Of course I understand it to be dangerous, this is why I stopped. I am simply making the point that women DO lay in the sun for hours on end, sometimes all day, which is without argument - more dangerous than 10-20 minutes in a solarium. There is no ifs or buts here, it is plain simple fact. The many hours women spend laying in the sun makes the whole banning of solariums so ridiculous. They will not stop anyway, they will simply lay in the sun for longer. It is what society has created. Warped vanity.

            Commenter
            Used to
            Date and time
            September 06, 2012, 4:37PM
          • Used to - I'm very glad that you are no longer putting your life at risk, that's great. However you're quite wrong when it comes to hours of natural sun versus regular use of a solarium of much shorter durations. The solarium is far more dangerous and has been scientifically proven to lead to more skin cancers, and very often in young adults. These are cancers people would not get from sunbathing. That's why the business of solariums is deservedly dying.

            Commenter
            C.Fairy
            Location
            Melbourne
            Date and time
            September 06, 2012, 8:01PM
        • Here in Shanghai, you can usually spot the Aussie ladies amongst the expat crowd. They are the ones who look ten years older than everyone else.

          Meanwhile, Chinese girls prefer the "fresh from the morgue" look. At the first hint of sunshine, out come the parasols. Makes a lot more sense, especially when you see women in their 40s with barely a line on their faces.

          Commenter
          tony p
          Location
          shanghai
          Date and time
          September 06, 2012, 12:42PM
          • As a 27 year old who recently lost my 52 year old mother to melanoma, I truly, honestly cannot believe some people would be so stupid to still use these things. You have your head in the sand (pardon the pun) if you think that it won't happen to you. It could, and it does. Have we become so shallow about our appearance that we firstly can't accept wearing the colour of skin we have, and secondly, we're prepared to risk death (and I can vouch, not a very nice one either)?

            Commenter
            Ashykay
            Location
            Brisbane
            Date and time
            September 06, 2012, 12:45PM
            • Much sympathy on the loss of your mother, how awfully sad for you.

              Thank you for posting your comment. I hope anyone who is equivocating ,or still getting a solarium tan because they genuinely believe it makes them look and feel better, reads your comment, and finally comes to their senses.

              Commenter
              C.Fairy
              Location
              Melbourne
              Date and time
              September 06, 2012, 8:04PM

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