Tanning: cures the blues, turns you orange

by Beacon Staff • April 5, 2006

The warm temperatures Boston has experienced recently (though, sadly, only temporarily) saw many peeling off the layers they had grown accustomed to the past few months, and with that comes more visible skin.,Classes are winding down and spring fever is all around.

The warm temperatures Boston has experienced recently (though, sadly, only temporarily) saw many peeling off the layers they had grown accustomed to the past few months, and with that comes more visible skin.

Girls have been able to hide their pasty white legs and pale shoulders under their Abercrombie sweaters and Seven jeans all winter.

Not anymore. The temperature is heating up, as is the demand to look your best in the season's duds.

Those looking to add a little color to their complexion may be thinking of heading to the nearest tanning salon.

Nicole Haller, an employee at Campus Tan, said that both the location of the store she works at 333 Huntington Ave. and the store at 334 Massachusetts Ave. are near Northeastern University, in an area overrun with college students, making it a popular choice among college-goers.

Kathleen Langlois, a freshman marketing communication major, says that she began tanning in high school for proms. Upon coming to Boston in the fall, she tanned at Campus Tan on Huntington Avenue and Perfect Tan, located at 1030 Commonwealth Ave.

"I love tanning. It definitely puts me in a better mood and boosts my self-confidence," she said. "I feel more attractive when I'm tan."

Langlois, like many college students, is enticed by the cheap prices and seemingly great tanning deals offered across the city.

According to the Campus Tan Web site, bostontan.com, first-time clients can purchase unlimited tanning privileges for $19.99 for their first month, with no appointments necessary.

Langlois said she has stopped tanning since she no longer has discounts left.

"It's expensive, but the only reason I went was because I had coupons for both [visits]," Langlois said.

While many college students enjoy relaxing for ten minutes or so in a warm tanning bed, the effects this habit has on their skin will last much longer.

Tanning exposes the body to harmful UV rays. These rays damage and break down the skin over time, leading to premature aging and sun spots.

According to WebMd.com, High exposure to UV rays also increases risk of skin cancer.

Students who are in search of a bronzed body but do not want to expose themselves to the dangers of UV rays can use the spray tan. In this type of tanning, a spray technique is used to coat the body with artificial coloring which lasts for up to two weeks. This method of tanning is appealing because it achieves the sun-kissed look without damaging the skin.

Haller said that while this method is not as popular as the tanning beds, demand has increased as graduation nears for college students for Mystic Tan, a form of sunless tanning that is offered at the Campus Tan locations.

Many people, however, believe that tanning is all about a state of mind. Being warm and feeling sunlight projected onto your body is something that many would not trade for artificial coloring.

Freshman audio/radio major James Sturges said that he has never gone tanning and would only do so if "it's gonna be a natural event" such as tanning while on vacation or at the beach.

"Girls who are extremely tan stand out more but only because ... it is so unnaturally tan," Sturges said when asked whether he is more attracted to girls with bronzed skin.

Tanning is not always just for appearance, however. Doctors are prescribing tanning as a way to help patients who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD has been linked to the lack of serotonin, a chemical in the brain associated with happiness, and the mood-boosting vitamin D, which is produced by the skin when exposed to the sun.

During the winter months, changes in sunlight patterns affect one's internal "clock." These changes can be linked to depression.

Some symptoms of the disorder, according to WebMD.com, are mood changes, sleep disorders, weight gain, anxiety, stress and headaches.

People who regularly go tanning have been seen to have a better overall mood.

While being in a good mood is a plus, it is important to keep in mind that the consequences of keeping a smile on your face may be wrinkles and potential skin cancer years down the road, something that you won't be grinning about.

Wary of the dangers that UV rays arise, Langlois uses a face bronzer cream everyday to achieve her desired glow.

She is not the only one. Fast becoming another tan alternative, InTouch Magazine recently featured healthy alternatives to the tanning bed that include Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer in Medium, available for $8 at CVS; Clinique True Bronze Pressed Powder Bronzer in Sunkissed for $24, available online; and Lanc