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Will faux-tanning products help young women see the light on skin cancer?

A girl in a tanning bed.
A girl in a tanning bed.
Evil Erin/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

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Sunless tanning products, such as airbrush tans, lotions and towelettes, have grown more popular as Americans learn more about skin cancer. Still, a survey by Baylor University shows the majority of college-age women use such products to complement UV (ultraviolet) tanning -- whether by the pool or in a tanning bed.

The Baylor researcher, Jay Yoo, says product manufacturers need to figure out how to convince fashion-conscious consumers that sunless tanning products are a complete, safe alternative to UV rays. A golden-brown glow has only been en vogue for about a century. Previously, suntans were associated with the working class that had to work outdoors.

Why has the tan look sustained in the fashion world? Should the messages about skin cancer be as big and bold as anti-smoking, lung cancer campaigns of the past? What are the latest numbers on skin cancer rates?


Dr. Lisa Chipps, M.D., Beverly Hills Dermatologist; Director of Dermatological Surgeries at Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance