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 A Cancer Council of Victoria spokeswoman says: ''These machines are dangerous, unnecessary, outdated and irrefutably linked to cancer.''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?