Monday, November 26, 2012

Hooray for the Holidays!

I tanned today and wow did it feel good.  Considering how stressful the holiday season can be (and for me Thanksgiving is the most stressful) tanning plays a role in helping me relax. I find that getting 15 minutes of time to myself, uninterrupted by anyone or anything is a treat during this season. I suppose it is because sunshine and UV rays release endorphins in the system to make us feel better. This is another surprising benefit I’ve been able to experience through tanning. I kind of touched on it in my last blog post about being depressed when I would go long periods of time without the sun. Even though I couldn’t be out in it, I wanted to see it. Now that I am able to be in it, I have a boost in my spirits when I am able to soak up some rays. I really didn’t expect to have this experiment affect me in so many ways: not only physically, but mentally. Tanning can have a calming effect. In years past the holidays were a time of stress and depression for me. I would spend my days in the doldrums, miserable. I had no energy or enthusiasm for the season that so many people were excited about. I had a hard time getting into the spirit of things.  Even my family could tell I wasn’t feeling myself. But since I have been tanning and have time for myself, I have noticed that my attitude has improved. My energy level is better and my general outlook is much more positive. Tanning has actually changed the way I deal with the holidays and diminished my stress considerably. I believe that the way UV rays interact with my system has been a key to this transformation. I am more productive at work, I am less likely to over-react to negative situations, and find I handle adversity better. I feel like I am managing things related to the holidays better this year. The one thing that is different this year over years past? Tanning.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Worst Burn I Ever Had

When I was 18, I went to Water World with a friend. We spent the entire day in the sun on a hot July Colorado day. I never really spent a lot of time outside and, being young and stupid, I didn't wear any sunscreen. I am very fair skinned and I never really tanned, but I never had a bad burn up until that day.  By the time I got home that day I was beet red and felt a little sick. Within a few hours, I had blisters forming on my face and my eyes were swollen shut. My face was puffy and my lips were 3 times their normal size. It was awful. I looked like some hideous creature from a horror movie. I went to work and my bosses sent me home because I looked so frightening. It was quite a traumatic experience for a vain teenage girl. I was emotionally scarred. Ever since that day I was extra sensitive to the sun. I would burn and my face would get blotchy after only about 10 minutes in the sun. I soon became very aware of how much time I spent outdoors. I avoided it as much as possible. My face was the most sensitive, but any exposed skin would burn so I was always covered, or only out at night.

But I had a love hate relationship with the sun. Living in Colorado most of my life, I am used to sunshine almost every day. I clearly remember going to visit family on the east coast and it was overcast and cloudy every day of the visit not only one time, but every time I visited. I couldn't wait to get back to Colorado and see the sunshine. It was confusing to me, I was depressed without it, but I couldn't be IN it. That all changed for me this year.  

The reason I am telling you about this awful burn is to make a point. There is a way to tan properly and with a base tan, you have a natural protection against sunburn. It took me over 20 years to learn this nugget of information. I was fully on the sunblock/sun avoidance bandwagon because of my inability to tan and my super sensitivity to the sun. I was very skeptical that my experiment to tan in a salon would work at all. Remember, my main goal was to bring up my Vitamin D levels so I really had no idea how I could make this work without getting a nasty burn.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, the staff at Tan the Moon knew what they were doing and they helped make this possible. This year I have had several occasions in which I spent time outdoors for several hours, with no SPF or just SPF of 20 on my face, without even a hint of burn.  I know I've said this before, but it is worth repeating, this has changed my life for the better. Last year I could not to the pool with my daughters during the day. We always waited until night time to go swimming, which was fun, but many of their friends would go in the daytime and I couldn't be guaranteed that I could find a spot under some shade to go with them, so THEY missed out. My ability to go for a walk on the weekend or just sit outside while the girls play at the park is incredible to me. It is something I never want to take for granted. When I look back to what my life was like before l tanned, I feel like I was a hermit.  I don’t want to return to that lifestyle, and I don’t want other people to live like that if my story can help them. I feel like the constant message of wearing sunscreen all the time and avoiding the sun should be toned down. It is a dangerous message because so many people are taking that advice and now we have low Vitamin D levels. I know I don’t reach a big audience with my little blog, but I hope those that do read this will know there is good sunshine, good tanning, and good sun beds. Spread the word!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Process

I read a blog post from someone the other day about whether or not tanning is safe. It was written by a student that had done some research on how tanning works because they had some knowledge about how skin reacts to UV rays and how a tan is produced. But they clearly had never really been in a tanning salon because that bit was not at all accurate. It stated that being in a tanning bed gives you too much UVA and UVB in concentrated amounts and doesn't allow your body to build up the melanin needed to produce a tan. I commented on the blog and checked back on it a few days later, and to my surprise, my comment was not approved by the moderator. The subject made me think about the misconception of how a tanning salon works. Maybe I should address that here because I am guilty of not completely understanding the process before I started tanning. I thought it was going to be like it was back in the 80's when my best friend tanned occasionally in a salon. She went in, told them how long she wanted to tan and that was that. I don’t even think there were different types of beds back then.  There have been many advancements in the process and regulations have been put in place since then.

My background is in restaurants. So I will put this in terms comparing the process to what I know. The biggest thing restaurants work on is making sure their staff handles and serves food safely. If that doesn’t happen, their customers get sick, that is to be avoided. They train their staff to properly prepare and handle the food. There are regular health inspections to assure the safest practices are being used.  The same approach is made in tanning salons by training their staff to properly handle a customer’s skin. If they don’t do it right, the customer burns, that is to be avoided. While I’m not certain how regulations are enforced in the tanning industry, I do know there are laws and restrictions on their practices, I just don’t have those details readily available.

So what happens when you go into a tanning salon for the first time? The salon employee will ask a handful of questions about your skin (freckles? Moles? Coloring? Tendency to burn, ever been able to tan, etc.) Based on your answers about your skin, and using their judgment based on what they can see, they will determine your skin type.  Skin type 1 being the fairest, and the one that can’t tan, if you are determined to be a skin type 1 the salon would only offer spray tan because there is too much risk for burn. Skin type 6 is the darkest, and doesn't burn.  this link shows the 6 different types and how they typically tan.
So once the staff member determines your skin type, they figure which type of bed would work best for you. Just as there are different levels of skin types, there are different level tanning beds as well. Once that is determined the staff member will help you decide how long you should be in the bed. There are limits of how long you can be in based on both the above factors of skin type and bed type. There is science involved, it isn't just throwing you in the bed and turning it on until you feel you have had enough. These are not kids off the street with minimal training. It isn't like what you would find in a retail clothing store.  I know they follow these guidelines, this is how I was able to tan for the first time in my life. I went in to tan yesterday and there was a woman who was a new client. The salon employee took her time explaining the different aspects of how things work.  She was informative and didn't rush through anything because I was waiting. I respect that. This young lady was not the same girl I worked with so I feel confident the entire staff takes this very seriously. That is good business.  

Hopefully this brief explanation of the process helps people better understand that there is a right way to tan to reduce the risk of burning while getting the desired result for the customer. If it isn't done properly, the salon wouldn't stay in business very long. For a salon, a well trained staff and attention to the customer’s needs while educating them on the best way to achieve their goal is the key to success.  With that being said I’d like to give a big shout out to the staff at Tan the Moon in my neighborhood for being such a big part of my tanning success. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Vitamin D Day

I was doing research about Vitamin D to find something to write about this week, and guess what I learned? November 2nd is “World Vitamin D Day” and November is “Vitamin D Awareness Month.” (The thing Google will find never ceases to amaze me) HOW PERFECT! The whole reason I started this blog was to share what I learned in my quest to raise my Vitamin D to a healthy level, and how tanning was the path I chose to make that happen. So you may ask what exactly does Vitamin D do? Well, there are plenty of studies a person can find with a simple Google Search. One thing I found particularly interesting was this graphic. this is just pointing out some of the research that has been done. I have found numerous articles with other claims of the benefits. Just yesterday this article talks about one of the dangers of a low Vitamin D level.,0,1751973.story. So I think it is safe to say Vitamin D deficiency is something that should be avoided. So imagine my dismay that there is one study I found last week, that is getting circulation in the press trying to convince the public that it may not be necessary to get as much Vitamin D as originally thought.
It boggles my mind that there would be a suggestion that people generally get a sufficient amount. If that were true we wouldn't see an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency. It is confusing and misleading to the public. Especially going into winter months where it is more difficult to get sufficient Vitamin D naturally from sunshine. I know this blog post seems to have “link overload” I just want my point to be that there is science behind a lot of the information about getting a Vitamin D level to a target range of at least 40-60 ng/ml. One more link about Vitamin D winter and how difficult it is to get to that target range during this time of the year in North America. Please check these out and educate yourself about this very important information.