Results from a recent survey suggested that many users of sunless tanning products altered their tanning practices and reduced their exposure to UV radiation.
Researchers conducted the cross-sectional survey of 415 women at Emory University and the surrounding area in Atlanta between May 30 and Dec. 4, 2007. Topics included respondents’ demographic information, skin characteristics and tanning practices — how frequently they tan in the sun, use sunless tanning products (STP) or use tanning beds — as well as how attractive they find tanned vs. nontanned skin and whether being tan made them feel better about themselves.
Among the participants, 48% reported using STP, 70.6% reported tanning in the sun and 26.0% had used a tanning bed at least once in the previous 12 months. Among STP users, 36.8% attributed product use to less frequent tanning in the sun and 38% to less frequent tanning bed use. STP users also were more likely than nonusers to consider tanned skin more attractive (97.0% vs. 88.7%, P<.001) and to feel better about themselves when tan (92.5% vs. 66.7%, P<.001).
Common reasons given for STP use included safety compared with other tanning methods and a desire to avoid wrinkles, while common reasons for not using STPs included streaks caused by the products, the color of the resulting tan and indifference about tanning. Predictors of STP use included a history of skin cancer, lighter complexion, frequent use of other tanning methods and a belief that tanned skin is more attractive than nontanned skin.
“The desire for tanned skin remains strong despite growing awareness of the dangers of UV radiation exposure,” the researchers wrote. “In some women, sunless tanning product use is associated with decreased UV radiation tanning frequency, especially in women who use them repeatedly. Improvements in the appearance of sunless tanning product tans may allow wider acceptance by the public and further decreases in UV radiation tanning practices.”