For Tricia McKenzie, senior nursing major, when the sun comes out, tanning becomes a part of her routine.
McKenzie started tanning as a high school student who was preparing for the prom.
“Now I (tan) about two times per week,” she said. “I usually tan in the spring and the summer. Usually in the fall and winter I don’t tan as much. I’m a lot busier and the sun’s not out. There are days when I want sun and I will go but it’s not a regular thing for me to do in the winter.”
When McKenzie does tan, she doesn’t use any additional bronzers.
“I usually a tanning lotion from the salon that I go to,” she said. “It’s just a moisturizer. It has silicon and cocoa butter so it’s really good for your skin.”
McKenzie said that the average tanning beds allow for 12-15 minutes of ultraviolet rays.
“I usually go for 12 minutes but there are 15 minute beds,” McKenzie said. “I’ve been going for quite a while but I just can’t go the (entire 15 minutes). I just get too tired in there. The first time I ever tanned I started out with five minutes so I wouldn’t burn.”
That extra time serves as down time for McKenzie.
“It’s just time for me to relax and get away,” she said. “If I’m feeling kind of depressed, when I go to tan, I come out feeling refreshed. It could be the people at the salon that I go to or it could be that I get that warmth. I just feel refreshed.”
While in the tanning bed, McKenzie can usually fall asleep but is not concerned with getting burned.
“If I feel asleep and stayed in there for 45 minutes, the bed would turn off after the scheduled amount of time,” she said.
She never worries about the down sides for tanning.
“I know that most skin cancers like melanoma are actually more in people who don’t get enough sun,” McKenzie said. “Tanning is okay in moderation. I don’t go excessively or every day.
As a nursing student, she does understand the medical aspects of tanning.
“Being in the health care profession, I’m more aware of (health risks) and it makes me more skeptical,” she said. “I don’t want to listen to media because they sometimes only say one thing. But I also don’t want to just listen to people who tan because they only say one thing. So I do my own research, look at studies, stuff like that.”
As the warmer times of year are approaching, more and more people are going to the tanning salon.
“I don’t typically see the person they show on TV with the wrinkly (leathery) skin,” McKenzie said. “I’m sure they are out there. They weren’t aware when tanning started back in the ‘70s that it wasn’t as safe. They continued unsafe practices.”
While the sun bathing may be a viable option for those who want to tan, McKenzie said that indoor tanning offers benefits as well.
“(Employees of tanning salons) do a skin type (test) to find out how easily you burn,” she said. “If you go outside to tan, you don’t know how much actual exposure you’re getting. If you fall asleep outside the sun isn’t going to shut off. It’s going to be there constantly and you are more likely to damage your skin when you are outdoors.”