Monday, November 18, 2013


I started this blog a little over a year ago and when looking back on what has happened over the year, I think this has been a good experiment. Over the last few months I have neglected posting because I have been transitioning to a new job and working my old job until a suitable replacement was found. I am happy to report, I finished training that suitable replacement and I am down to one job now. So I have more time on my hands,  I have been thinking about if I feel writing about my tanning experience has been worthwhile and if I should continue. Based on the feedback I have had from friends and strangers, I am going to keep blogging, and I plan to put more effort into keeping it up because I believe my experience has actually helped people.

I have been amazed at how many people have contacted me after reading my blog, or have messaged me on Facebook after reading a comment I have made on an article. I hear from people who have been diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency with levels in single digits or low numbers like my own when I started tanning. This is a widespread problem and I can’t help but think about the dermatologist testifying in Denver about how Vitamin D deficiency isn’t all that common and it is just a red herring.  He was very wrong.  I am just a small time blogger and I have heard stories from dozens of people over the last year that have the same deficiency story I had.  I am not an isolated incident and I know that because of the feedback over the year.

I have heard from people that tell me that their doctor recommended tanning to treat their deficiency, but they are afraid to tan because they think it is an automatic skin cancer sentence. They don’t understand that moderation is the primary goal in a professional salon. After reading my story, they have a little different perspective. I am not here to sell anyone on tanning, I just want to spread the word that there is more to it than what the media and medical industry want them to know. I want people to know the other side and research the benefits of moderate, responsible tanning. Then they can make a more informed decision about what is right for them.

There are some people I know personally that have decided to tan in a professional salon because of my experience. They have come to me asking questions about salons I recommend and how I got started. I have been approached by strangers asking about how long and how often I tanned. I always tell them to find a salon they are comfortable with and make sure they get a tanning schedule based on their own skin type.  What worked for me will not work for everyone and a trained professional would be better at helping with those kinds of questions than I would. I’m just here to say that tanning is a viable option for people like me and that there can be successes and benefits if that is the path they choose.

So I feel good about having had a little influence over turning around some of the negative connections people make to tanning. I hope to continue to tell my story and at least get some people to think twice before just assuming the worst. Tanning worked for me, and I am not alone, it is time our stories are heard.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Common Nonsense

While reading several articles and comments on articles about tanning I am amazed at how often professional salons are blamed for skin cancer. There seems to be a lot of common misunderstandings and arguments that pop up regularly. Here are the arguments I see consistently, observations of how people view tanning, and the reactions to my pro tanning story. Sometimes I feel like a broken record when I respond to the “facts” that are attributed to how bad tanning is for you.

In just about every article about tanning, I see the World Health Organization’s statistic that when a person tans before 35, their risk of skin cancer increases by 75 percent. I’ve touched on this statistic many times in this blog before about how the data shows most of that increased risk comes from other sources of sunbeds, not professional salons. Namely the biggest contributor to that statistic is from Phototherapy treatments administered by Dermatologists. To refresh your memory, or if you haven’t read my previous posts, the risk increase associated with Phototherapy is a whopping 96 percent. Home units were found to increase the risk by 40 percent and professional salons showed an increased risk of 6 percent. It seems logical that we would want to limit phototherapy and home units instead of professional salons. Yet Dermatologists use the W.H.O. statistic as a weapon against the tanning industry. They just spout that 75 percent increased risk without disclosing that their practices are the ones that make up that percentage and in reality, professional salons bring down the average by their small risk comparatively.

It baffles my mind that law makers and the media take their statement as fact that professional salons are solely responsible for that high number. There is no accountability of how they are contributing to the risk of skin cancer. Details, details, don’t let the data’s details be known, I’m a doctor, I wear a white coat, do not doubt me, don’t look at facts, take my word for it. The arrogance by the Dermatologists I’ve seen testifying in the two legislative hearings I attended is palpable. They put on their white coats to talk about how tanning causes cancer; they don’t need to actually back up their statements or have the science behind their claims because they are wearing white coats, they went to school for a long time. The thing that is so bothersome is that much of the time, it works. For some reason no one really questions doctors, they don’t look at what the data shows, only that end result of 75 percent risk increase. For those of you that are Scrubs fans, it reminds me of when JD had his first day as a resident and he came in wearing a white coat saying to everyone he saw, “You’re going to be ok, I’m a doctor.” His attitude was people will listen to me now because I am wearing a white coat. I have seen this attitude many times when discussing the risk of skin cancer in a public forum.  I question anyone who says that this equipment is so dangerous, but want to still use it to treat their own clients at an inflated price. But apparently it isn’t ok to point out hypocrisy.  Think about it, what the Dermatologist lobby is pushing for when testifying to limit access of professional salons is that THEY should be allowed to be the ones increasing the risk of skin cancer because they are wearing white coats and they can bill health insurance to do it. It makes no sense.

I have a personal story proving my life has improved thanks to sunbeds used responsibly in a professional salon. I have a healthy Vitamin D level, I do not suffer the muscle aches anymore, I can exercise without pain and have lost weight as a result, and I can spend time outdoors now. My story is treated like a nice little anecdote, and an anomaly. I am not the only one with my kind of story. Since starting this blog I have been contacted by friends, family, and strangers with similar experiences. I have had people say they didn’t know what was wrong with them, and after hearing my story they had their Vitamin D level checked and found out they were severely Vitamin D deficient like me. I have had people come to me and tell me they have had trouble tolerating supplements and didn’t really know what their other options were. I am amazed at how many people have told me their Vitamin D levels that are in the single digit range. I hear these stories regularly. I think about one doctor at a legislative hearing who said that Vitamin D deficiency really isn’t a problem here in Colorado. He called it a “red herring” that the tanning industry created. That we have so much sunshine throughout the year that our state doesn’t see many cases of deficiency, as I sat behind him recalling the e-mails I have received, and texts from family and friends that live in this area who heard my story and got themselves checked. I knew what he was saying was not true, but people believed him because he is a doctor. It is nonsense. I just read an article today saying that a third of the world’s population has low Vitamin D so that indicates that it really IS a problem in every state, every country. We are not a small percentage of people with deficient levels. It is becoming a more common problem because our lifestyle of spending so much more time indoors combined with the constant message that we should protect ourselves from sun exposure. If that message doesn’t change, and the majority of the population avoids any and all UV, we are going to find ourselves with many other, more dangerous health issues in the future.

I see the attitude towards tanning as if there is no such thing as moderation, like everyone that goes to a salon looks like the “tanning mom”. She is not the face of tanning. It is frustrating to read the comments about how all people who tan look orange, old, leathery, etc. People tend to believe a person who tans is simply vain and that they are only looking for a bronzed body. That is a stereotype and part of the reason I wanted to speak out about my experience with tanning. I am more of a typical tanner. No one would guess I tan, even I wouldn’t be able to tell I am tan if I didn’t have tan lines because I am so fair. My tan is subtle and most of the people I see come and go from the salon I use look more like me. Not over tan, just normal skin tones. I am told constantly that I don’t look old enough to have children in their twenties, I know people who have tanned for years that don’t look old or leathery. But when I point that out in my story or in comments, I get replies about how stupid I am and that I am promoting skin cancer. I really don’t think people even read my comments all the way through, most of the time they just jump on me about their own opinions and they attack me for having a positive story to tell.  I get, “You could get that result by taking a pill, and supplements would have worked just as well.”  They don’t see that my point is that taking a pill is an option, but UV exposure works more efficiently and effectively. It is the more natural way to get Vitamin D. I think people should know that.

Another common argument I see against professional salons is that “we must protect the children.” I see this a lot because there are so many states considering banning anyone under 18 from tanning in a professional salon. Some states have passed such a law but there is no common sense to these laws. They are sending the message that sunbeds in salons are the biggest risk, using that WHO study as the evidence of the high risk, but ignoring how the data shows that salons are actually the lowest risk. Common sense would dictate that the logical thing to do to prevent skin cancer would be to educate kids on moderate UV exposure. Professional salons are the only place where you can get UV in a controlled environment. Science shows that overexposure to UV is risky. Professional salons limit access based on skin type to prevent overexposure. Personally speaking, the worst burn I ever had was because I was in the sun too long at a water park. No one came up to me and said, you have been out here too long for a fair skin type 2 if you don’t get out of the sun you will burn badly. Professional salons won’t let a person tan too long, they won’t risk a client getting sunburn, they dictate how long and how often a person tans based on their skin type and the science and research that went into skin typing works. Realistically, the water parks, pools, parks, amusement parks, beaches, et al are where overexposure is most common. So if we really want to “protect the children” by banning them from places where they can be risking skin cancer, we should ban them from these public places right? That suggestion would be ridiculous wouldn’t it? But suggesting we ban access to a place that rarely causes sunburn is somehow logical and there are many people who believe this will resolve skin cancer risks in teens.  Where is the common sense? It is completely backwards thinking.

I have seen two articles just this week with personal stories blaming sunbeds in salons for melanoma. The articles talk about how one person owned their own sunbed so they tanned without restriction. One was a doctor that blamed sunbeds for his melanoma but mentioned that his mother also had melanoma and there was a history of skin cancer in his family. Neither of these articles focused on that part of the story, they focused on how these two people tanned in salons and ended up with melanoma. They placed the blame completely on salons without suggesting that there were other factors that contributed to the disease. They focused on how teens should be banned from salons to prevent more stories like these. But again, that doesn’t make sense. Why would a person who had a family history of a skin cancer point the finger of blame on tanning salons when it is possible they could have gotten the disease even if they had never tanned? I have mentioned in previous posts, my mom had skin cancer and she has never set foot in a tanning salon. Who shall we blame for her basil cell carcinoma? She is fair skinned and she has had some bad sunburns in her lifetime, so should we blame MY tanning for her skin cancer? That seems like the type of angle some of these articles would eat up. We can forget that she was diagnosed years before I even set foot in a tanning salon and that she isn’t my biological mother. There doesn’t need to be common sense or logic if we can somehow make a connection to skin cancer and tanning salons.

So why is it so hard for these personal stories to acknowledge that there may have been another cause to their skin cancer? Why can’t the message be that overexposure is dangerous and linked to skin cancer? Why can’t there be acknowledgement that professional salons take steps to avoid overexposure and there is a much lower risk when you use them? That is the proper message, the right approach, and it happens to be the message that the tanning industry tries to promote. What we need is to get people to think about how much UV they are getting. We need them to be better about paying attention to their skin and when they should use sunscreen. People should understand that moderate, responsible UV is beneficial. Why does the message of avoiding any and all UV get repeated over and over again when it is clearly unbalanced and dangerous? We need to have a healthy balanced approach and attitude about UV.  The medical industry and media is going about this the wrong way by not giving both sides of the story and showing that moderation is the best answer when it comes to UV.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Can I get an AMEN?!?!?!

I came across an article earlier this week with some serious misinformation about tanning. It was attacking the industry as if it is the one and only source of all skin cancer. Oh how frustrating to read. The comments were mostly those following suit about how evil tanning is. Many comments were exactly what I blogged about last week stating myths as facts and spouting garbage about how only vain people tan.

I was unable to post anything on the article at the time I read it so I decided to come back to it later. I did a search later that night and found a rebuttal to the article that I could not improve upon if I tried.  If only I could be so eloquent when stating my opinion.

I am so impressed with how the rebuttal was written I feel I should share it with my readers. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I've touched on it a bit in earlier posts on this blog, there seems to be some serious misconceptions about tanning by the general public. I guess it is time to address some of these myths.   I see article comments all the time that are repeated enough so people think it is true. Well, in my experience, I haven’t found any of them to be true so I am playing myth buster today.

“Tanning turns a person’s skin orange” Myth, at least for UV tanning.  A UV tan from a sunbed tans your skin the same way the sun would. It is a natural reaction in the skin, so the color is a natural color based on a person’s skin type. The fairer the skin type, the lighter the tan. I don’t have much experience with spray tans, but the two times I have done that, the color has been natural as well. I have found the orange tone that people refer to, comes from self-tanning lotions that can be bought at a drug store. There are chemicals involved that turn the skin an un-natural tone for the most part. Unfortunately, people associate that color with sunbed use and that is not the case.

“Using a sunbed causes skin cancer” Now this is really a hot issue. Overexposure to UV (i.e. sunburn) has been linked to skin cancer.  When sunbeds are used irresponsibly they most certainly can cause sunburn and therefore raise the risk of skin cancer. This is why going to a professional salon is so important. Salons limit how long and how often a person tans based on their skin type. The fairest skin type (skin type 1) is turned away from sunbed use by a salon. They know the age of the bulbs installed, the type of equipment they provide and they stick to safety measures in place to prevent sunburn. Salons also educate their customers on the use of SPF products and skin care to avoid sunburn outside of the salon. They promote healthy, moderate UV exposure. So sunbed use in a salon is actually the safest method of UV exposure.

“Tan people have leathery skin and look old” Tanned skin is thicker, yes, and over a long period of time, wrinkles do happen. But not much more than a non-tanner in my opinion, I really think this one has to do with genetics more than anything. I know some people who have tanned for years that look unbelievably young for their age.  This one is more of a matter of opinion and perspective, but I see many comments from people speculating that if someone tans, they are going to look like a catcher’s mitt within a year.

“Tanning cooks your skin and organs” This one wasn't helped by the Seinfeld episode where Kramer falls asleep in a tanning bed and Newman imagines him as a roasted turkey.  The fact of the matter is you can not cook your organs or your skin. You can burn your skin from overexposure, just like a sunburn from too much time outdoors. But to think it is like some sort of microwave oven for the body is completely false. I dare anyone to cook anything in a sunbed. It can’t be done.

One last myth I want to address is something I commonly hear from people when discussing sunburn prevention. “My burn turns into a tan” or “I have to burn first and then I can tan after that” These are not comments I see when reading articles, but I do hear it a lot. It is a myth.  People seem to think that they naturally just burn the first few times they are in the sun in the beginning of summer, and then it just magically turns into a tan. The fact is that they are not being responsible with UV exposure. They go outside and stay outside too long the first few times causing overexposure and burn. The layers of skin a little deeper are tan because the outer layers protected them from the burn. Once that outer layer peels off it shows tan. But this isn't safe. Sunburn should always be avoided. A person needs to build up exposure time slowly to get a base tan. I have actually had people tell me, “I don’t wear sunscreen in the beginning of summer so I can get a burn, and then that turns into a tan” It amazes me that some people intentionally get a sunburn thinking that is the only way they will tan. The reality is that if these same people would spend less time in the sun, or put sunscreen on their skin after a short period of time and slowly build a base tan, they would not be damaging their skin with sunburns.

So these are just some of the common misconceptions I see regularly. I think it is time to start using common sense when reading articles. Most of them I see are written in a way that is not balanced, but skewed heavily towards the “tanning is evil” perspective. One day I hope to see more articles that tell another side of the story, or at least both sides of the story. Until that day, I am here to tell my story of how tanning can be beneficial and is a good alternative to the medical industry's  message of UV avoidance.

Monday, June 3, 2013


This Memorial Day weekend was particularly difficult for me. You see, my 23 year old son has joined the Air Force. He left for basic training on Tuesday, right after Memorial Day. He made the decision in the fall and went in for his physical with MEPS in late November 2012. He passed with flying colors with one exception, severe acne. I had no idea that the Air Force would disqualify someone over acne, but apparently that is possible. They told him that everything checked out, but if his skin didn’t clear up before it was time to ship off to basic training, they would disqualify him. He left for a quick trip out of town at the end of November and thought things over about what he should do. He has tried things in the past like Proactiv, and other similar acne systems with little success.  He could go to a Dermatologist to treat it, but the methods they use would include antibiotics that would alter his body chemistry and stay in his system for months which would show up in a UA and that would disqualify him immediately.

In December he approached me and said he wanted to give tanning a try. He had been looking up alternative solutions online and there were many testimonials about success through tanning.  We headed to Tan the Moon and spoke with the manager Katherine and she got him set up with a special. She walked him through the process and discussed what his goals were. She recommended a schedule for him based on his skin type and he started tanning regularly.  By February his skin was the clearest I’ve seen it in years.  When I asked him about it he said he felt it was helping, but he also started using Tea Tree Oil soap and went back to a Vegan diet so he felt the combination of all three of those things were contributing. Hey, whatever works, I was impressed with how it all started coming together for him.

He was scheduled to ship out May 7th and at the end of April had a bit of a set back because he had a few areas that were starting to break out again. He had stopped tanning as regularly, but was still using the special soap. They decided to push back his ship out date by 3 weeks to give him time to get it cleared up again. He started back with his regular tanning schedule and on May 23rd it was clear enough to pass MEPS and he was given the green light to ship out 5 days later.

Had I known that he could have cleared up his problem skin so easily, I would have had him tan years ago. I would have had him go in his high school years. That is why it bothers me so much that there are so many states trying to pass laws banning anyone under 18 from tanning. It doesn’t make sense to me now that I know what good can come from tanning.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Healthy Vitamin D Level

I got my blood test results back from my doctor a few weeks ago.  My Vitamin D level is at an above average 63ng/ml. (Target range is in the 40-60ng/ml) Knowing my level helps me gauge how I am doing with my health. Last year when I was tanning for short periods of time every 2-3 days and gradually building my base tan, I was tested and had a blood level of 75ng/ml. Halfway through the summer I started scaling back my time in the sunbed to shift into more of a “maintenance mode”. I was also spending more time outdoors so I knew my level was likely very high.  Once the fall and winter came around, I continued my “maintenance” schedule of tanning 12-15 minutes every 7-10 days in a sunbed with a 20 minute maximum.  Just 3 months ago my salon replaced those 20 minute max beds with 15 minute max beds and I adjusted my time down again to 5-6 minutes once a week.  To find that I am maintaining a high Vitamin D level through these adjustments is reassuring to me that I am doing what is best for my health. 

May is Natural Breast Cancer Prevention Month.  What many people don’t know is that a healthy Vitamin D level is a great way to naturally prevent breast cancer.  That is because Vitamin D slows/ prevents cell mutation.  I wouldn’t presume to be an expert on the subject as to how it all works. I have looked up a few sites and perhaps just posting links to those sites would be more beneficial for you, the reader to look at. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Legislation and Me

I had the opportunity to testify before a State Senate committee hearing again this week. The bill being proposed is asking to make a law requiring parental consent for anyone under 18. That consent is to be renewed every 6 months. While I think it is unnecessary, I am not completely opposed to the bill. Currently professional salons require consent for anyone under 18 voluntarily, so really the only major change would be that it is required by law and the frequency of the consent renewal.

I got word from my salon that there was talk that there would be an amendment proposed to completely ban anyone under 18 from tanning. I made sure I would be there to voice my concerns about how a ban would be a mistake. Sure enough, one of the Senators said she would be introducing an amendment to ban anyone under the age of 18 from tanning through a professional salon, so I am glad I went.  Well, of course, guess who is the FIRST person called up to testify. While I am not terribly comfortable in this kind of setting, I didn’t have a chance to think about it much since I was the first one to go. I guess that may have worked to my advantage.

The tanning industry had a few people that testified after me with some very interesting data. Some of which I have learned while doing my own research, but I certainly learned some new things as well. For instance, Melanoma is more common in someone that works indoors than someone with a job spent outdoors. Seems to me that means that UV exposure ISN’T the black and white cause of melanoma that the medical industry would like us to believe. Clearly there are other factors that contribute. Also, there have been surveys done that show that 3 out of 4 teens that currently tan, with their parent’s permission, would seek out home units or tan aggressively outdoors if there were a ban preventing them to go to a salon. Banning teens from the one source that has extensive safety measures in place, will end up increasing these teen’s health risks. That isn’t the result these lawmakers want, yet many of them don’t want to admit that. They are told that all of the increased cancer risks come exclusively from tanning in professional salons. That isn’t true, home units are much more dangerous and increase a person’s risk by 40 percent because there are no limits to how often or how long a person tans, and there is no skin type assessment to set the limits.

There were Dermatologists testifying again that the bill doesn’t go far enough and were pushing for the full ban. The Dermatologists said things that were completely false. Not just skewed, but flat out lies. One dermatologist said that “no UV is safe” “47% of tanners are addicted” and that “salons let clients tan daily” None of those statements are true. Another doctor claimed that sunbeds are 10-15 times more intense than the summer sun at noon. That is not true as I have written about before; sunbeds are only 2-3 times more intense than the sun and you spend a fraction of the time in a sunbed to avoid overexposure.      I couldn’t take notes fast enough to get all of the inaccurate statements and only caught one of their names. Dr. Hunter H Sams, a dermatologist said, “Adequate amounts of Vitamin D can be derived easily from our diet.” As I have written in prior blogs, it is impossible to get sufficient amounts of Vitamin D through diet alone. UV exposure is the most effective and efficient way to get Vitamin D.

The bill for parental consent passed, but I am very happy to report that the Senate committee did not approve the amendment to ban anyone under 18 from tanning in a professional salon. I feel like my voice was heard. One of the Senators made it clear to me that he agreed that a parent should be the one to make this decision. Another Senator asked many of the others testifying about how the science isn’t clear and he seemed to feel they shouldn’t legislate on something that had this many variables. He understood that salons have strict safety rules they abide by to keep clients from burning.

All in all, it has been a very interesting experience. I have never been involved in a process like this and I have learned a great deal. It has also been an eye opening experience as to what lengths the opposition will go to, in order to get their way, even if the facts don’t support their claims. It is amazing to me that there is so much blame placed on professional salons when they have not contributed to the statistics used against them.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Change in Perspective

I’ve found that I now have a different reaction to people for certain things since experiencing and studying Vitamin D and tanning.  Like when that basketball player from Louisville broke his leg so horrifically during March Madness, my first thought was, “I wonder if he has Vitamin D deficiency.”

For example, last week my mom cut her vacation short due to being sick. When speaking to her on the phone she was complaining about her congestion and asthma type of feeling in her lungs. I had just read information about how Vitamin D can help with asthma like symptoms because it helps prevent swelling in the tissues of the bronchial tubes, so my immediate response, “Load up on Vitamin D.” I discussed with her how she should take a large amount of Vitamin D for a few days and then taper down. She said she had some supplements on hand that were 1000 IU. I took some 10k IU to her the next day. At 1000 IU she would have had to take 30 pills or more a day! The good news is that after a few days of taking 50k IU she started feeling an improvement.  Of course, she also went to the doctor and got antibiotics and she also took Vitamin C. I am not claiming the Vitamin D alone was what cured her, but I believe it contributed to her improvement.

Another example is when a friend recently told me that she is expecting a child for the first time. My initial response was to advise her to make sure she gets plenty of Vitamin D. I told her that recent studies are linking Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy to Autism, food allergies, M.S. and other health concerns like low birth weight etc. I told her it is important not only to take more Vitamin D, but she needs to know what her levels are right now. If a pregnant woman is already deficient to start with, she would need to take a lot to get to a healthy level just taking the recommended daily amount isn’t enough. Sunshine and UV exposure are the most efficient way to increase levels; supplements just can’t do the job as effectively.

I have been reading many articles and books about the benefits of Vitamin D; I want to share the information with everyone I can.  When people talk about muscle aches, common colds, or even bleeding gums, my suggestion is, “get Vitamin D.” If someone tells me they are going to the doctor, I encourage them to ask to get their Vitamin D blood level checked. I’m no doctor, but I feel comfortable telling people that increasing their Vitamin D could be helpful.  Getting too much Vitamin D is nearly impossible, especially since the majority of the population is deficient. That is why it is good to know your level.  It seems I read something new about Vitamin D every day. I saw an article today that says studies are showing Vitamin D could reduce uterine fibroids. Not only am I learning something new each day, but they are discovering new information on Vitamin D each day. 

I can’t help but think about how much healthier a society we would be had it not been for that unbalanced message, to avoid any and all UV exposure, that has been drilled into our heads for the past few decades. It amazes me that it is STILL being drilled into our heads. I can’t understand why much of the medical industry insists that sunscreen and sun avoidance is the best approach. That message is making us sicker. They need to embrace the balanced message that moderate, responsible UV exposure is not only healthy, but necessary for our well-being.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I Workout!

I have started working out again and I realized that I have not experienced the muscle aches I experienced when I started working out early last year. In February, I started working out around the same time I started tanning so I was still Vitamin D deficient. I did notice that I didn’t have the muscle aches once my Vitamin D level was found to be healthy, but I also felt like part of that was because I had been working out and the muscles were getting used to the added exercise.  I stopped going to the gym early in the summer, but still did 5k walks every month. Once the fall started, I only did a few walks now and then, and my activity level tapered off.  I started working out at the gym last week, and to my surprise, my legs do not ache at all. Yes, I started out slowly since I am just getting back into fitness, but what a difference in my experience this year. Last year when I started out slowly, I had muscle aches the following day. The difference being my healthy Vitamin D level over last year’s deficiency.

Years ago I hurt my knee and have always struggled to exercise without pain before I increased my Vitamin D level.  Who am I kidding? I struggled with pain without exercise, my knee hurt constantly. The exercising strengthened my knee and the pain isn’t constant anymore. I did not expect it to be pain free once I increased activity again. Thank you Vitamin D!

Coming soon to this blog:

I am re-listening to the testimony from the legislative hearing I attended weeks ago. There was so much said that I want to address here it is taking me some time to get it all organized into a coherent point rather than an emotional rant. It really was stunning to hear the blatant lies and misleading information claimed by the medical industry.  Bear with me on this. I will get to it soon, I promise.

I made an appointment with my doctor which will be coming up in a few weeks for a check-up. I am curious to see what my Vitamin D level is now. When I was tested last year, I was tanning every other day. Now I am just once a week for 5-6 minutes. I want to see if shifting down to a maintenance schedule has any effect on my level. I feel like it is still in the healthy range but it may not be as high as 75ng/ml any more. I should know in about a month and you all know it will be blogged about. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Recently I attended a legislative hearing and spoke to one of my state’s house committees considering a bill involving teen tanning.  I went into it to give my thoughts on how the proposed bill is essentially unnecessary because what it was seeking to do is actually common practice in professional salons. The bill proposes to ban anyone under 14 from tanning and anyone from 14 to 18 needs parental consent. I know my salon requires parental consent already, other salons I have talked to require it, and the head of a chain of salons testifying at the hearing says they require consent as well. As it turns out, about 95 percent of salons in Colorado require parental consent for anyone under 18 even though it isn’t required by law. (By the way, that isn’t exclusive to Colorado, the tanning industry does this nationwide, even when it isn’t required by law, that’s just good business.) So why waste everyone’s time and money to make a law on something that is already voluntarily in place by the industry? I made my statement about how this kind of thing should be a parent’s decision, not the government and that the practice that is already in place is working. The message I heard from the testimonies that day were not entirely balanced and it bothered me that lawmakers didn’t see that. I have a lot to say about this experience, here is the first part:

How can a person listen to someone say that avoiding any and all UV exposure is the best thing to do and not question it? That doesn’t make sense at all. We wouldn’t be alive today without UV. The sun is essential to life and well, we need it to live.  Dermatologists at the hearing were telling the committee that sunbeds are causing an increase in skin cancer. They say they are diagnosing someone with melanoma at least once a week because of people using sunbeds. But I’m not buying it, they are putting the blame on sunbeds from a professional salon without actually having the proof. They made it seem like there are no other ways to be exposed to UV. They of course spouted the 75% increase in risk for those that start using sunbeds before 35, with no mention of the fact that professional salons do not contribute to that statistic.   Overexposure of UV can cause skin cancer, but there are other factors that would contribute too. The abundance of moles, freckles, genetics, and a fair skin type play a major role. These things are assessed in a professional salon before allowing a client to use a sunbed.  I would put money on the fact that many of the cases they see are people who have never set foot in a professional tanning salon.  What they are not telling or admitting is that the prominence of their diagnoses could be attributed to actually being able to detect skin cancer earlier, or that many of these diagnoses are not necessarily accurate. They just kept stating that sunbeds are the cause and all UV should be avoided all the time. It isn’t balanced.

On the other side, I hear from the salon I use and from the testimony by the C.O.O. of a chain of salons in Colorado that overexposure is the enemy.  Moderate and responsible UV exposure is the goal.  They work with clients to ensure there is no sunburn by assessing skin type, ability to tan, equipment being used. They make sure a person is limited on how often they tan.  They teach that UV responsibility extends beyond their doors, that clients should pay attention to their skin when outdoors.  Sunscreen is encouraged any time there is a possibility of sunburn. That seems sensible to me. It is balanced. I see that put into place when I visit my salon. Recently they replaced the level 1 beds I use. They have worked with me to get the time right to avoid burning me because the new beds are 15 minute maximum instead of the 20 minute max I was used to. Because of this I have adjusted my time down in the new sunbed to 5 minutes from the 15 minutes I normally did. They have face lamps, so for my fair skin, I need to make sure those are turned off. This is something the staff helps me with and they have recommended some moisturizing lotions. This is just good business and again, it is balanced.

So look at the two messages and tell me which one is reasonable and balanced. One is telling you that all UV should be avoided and that sunscreen should be worn at all times. That message is causing the Vitamin D deficiency in this world. The other is telling you moderation and responsible exposure is the way to go. It encourages sunscreen when needed but teaches it isn’t needed all the time. I have listened to both messages and I had severe Vitamin D deficiency because of one of those messages.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Forward

As we are heading into the sunny months of the year, I have noticed that I don’t have anxiety about spending time outdoors this year. I can’t express how incredible that is to me. In years past I have found that I try to plan around my sensitivity to the sun. This year it isn’t a concern. I am looking forward to Springing forward.

Last weekend I did a St Patrick’s Day walk and here in Colorado that could mean anything weather wise. We had a snow storm the day before, and by the time the walk started, the sun was shining bright. I was outdoors, in the sun (for the most part) from 8:30 AM until 12:30 PM without worry.  This is such a new experience for me, something that many people probably take for granted. There were even times, when I came out of the shade of a downtown building that I couldn't wait to get to the sunny side of the street. I even looked up and said, “Ahh, sunshine”

Looking forward even further, the summer is going to be even more liberating. My daughter’s birthday is smack dab in the middle of summer and mine is just a week later. I have always had to be careful about how I celebrate these birthdays. Nothing like wanting to do a pool party like all my other friends growing up but knowing that I would pay the price of a nasty burn. Up until last year, I couldn’t offer that option to my daughter either, because I would burn. Last summer, I was able to spend time at the pool with my kids, but because it was so new to me, I had a little paranoia that this was too good to be true and feared that I would burn any minute. This was new territory for me so it was difficult to gauge. Like I said in earlier posts, I haven’t burned since acquiring a base tan through a professional salon. Without that success, I would be dreading the summer sun and what it did to me.

It is so refreshing to not have to figure a “plan B” strategy if there is no shade available at special occasions. My biggest fear when invited to an outdoor event such as a wedding, family reunion, or birthday party, was that there wouldn’t be a shelter or tent to spend most of my time under. I could get away with a baseball hat at informal events, but something like a wedding would pose a challenge. These are things most people don’t have to worry about.  But think about what that would be like for a minute, then think about how wonderful it would be to finally be set free from that worry.

So, the next time you hear someone say there is no such thing as a base tan and that tanned skin is damaged skin, think of my story and how a base tan has freed me from the sun prison I was in. When done the right way, slowly and responsibly, a tan is protection from burning and misery for people like me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Combatting the common cold with Vitamin D

I have found that the last few times I have felt like I might have a head cold coming on, I have taken extra Vitamin D in supplement form, and have succeeded in warding off the cold. But it still hasn’t been an automatic thought for me, and I had convinced myself that the cold I had avoided probably wasn’t one of those strong ones that are impossible to shake. Last month, my husband, daughter, parents, roommate, and nephew all had a nasty cold that held on for around 2 weeks.  Two and a half weeks ago I woke up on a Saturday morning with their symptoms, a scratchy throat, sneezing, and feeling drained of all energy. Oh no! I was going to get it now too. I just started working a new part time job and couldn’t afford to be sick. Like anyone can afford to be sick right? But I started to panic. I was supposed to go to my mom’s birthday party that afternoon, where many family members were just getting over this stuff. I went to the festivities but kept my distance from everyone. I didn’t want to give this to anyone else, and I’d feel awful if my mom had to battle another bout with it.  For some reason, the thought popped into my head that I should take extra Vitamin D.  I had read a few articles with differing opinions on whether or not Vitamin D helps relieve the common cold. I thought about it and realized that since I have started tanning, and increased my Vitamin D levels, I really haven’t had any colds. So it couldn’t hurt to try right? I went home and popped 50k IU of Vitamin D and took a nap. Rest ALWAYS helps a head cold. The next day I still felt a little yucky, but not as bad as Saturday, so I popped another 50k IU. I felt well enough to work a few hours that day and then another 50k on Monday and then around 30k IU on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Honestly, I never got the nasty cough or terrible sniffles that my family had. Wish I had thought of it BEFORE they all came down with it.  I really only had a few days of just not quite feeling 100%. I’ll take that over weeks of coughing my head off and sneezing my nose raw and having no energy.

While I am NOT certain the dosage of Vitamin D I took was actually 50k IU thanks to the recent studies showing the inaccuracies and inconsistencies of the supplements, (see my blog post from a few weeks ago) I do feel that simply increasing my Vitamin D intake from my normal routine contributed to my ability to fight off the cold. I gave extra Vitamin D to the family members that hadn’t completely recovered from the same cold, and they started to feel better too. Once they started to take the Vitamin D, it seemed the cold was cut a little shorter than those that had waited it out.

While it isn’t a scientific study by any stretch of the imagination, I think the results were significant enough to do the same thing the next time a cold threatens me. Although I do prefer to get my Vitamin D through UV exposure, I feel that given the circumstances, supplements worked well for my needs in this instance. Perhaps the next time I feel a cold coming on I will try going to a salon 2 or 3 times a week instead of just once to see what that would do. It could be hard to do it that way though based on the timing. For instance, I couldn’t have a regular tanning session on Sunday, then feel a cold come on Monday and go tan again. My salon would not allow me to tan back to back days because of my fair skin type. (Yet another great way they protect their clients from overexposure) Still, if the opportunity presents itself with the right timing I'm gonna go for it. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Happy Tanniversary

One year ago this week, I tanned in a salon for the first time. This year has been filled with many new experiences and I have learned so much. I thought it might be good to look back and share what the experience has been like, and what I’ve learned.

To recap:  In January of 2012 I had a physical and my Vitamin D level was tested, the results were that I had a blood level of 11 nanograms-per-milliliter (11ng/ml) My doctor wanted me to take 50 thousand IU of Vitamin D per week and prescribed a once a week pill of 50k IU. My thyroid has been abnormal for a few years now and I take medication for that every morning, but according to the label for the thyroid medication, I am not to eat for an  hour after taking it, and also no vitamins can be taken within 4 hours (before or after) of it. So I forgot more than I remembered to take the pill. Especially a pill I only had to take once a week. I tried to just get over the counter Vitamin D in lower levels that would add up to 50k per week, and take them on a daily basis. Still no luck at consistently remembering to take it so I started doing more research on Vitamin D. Vitamin D is actually a hormone produced naturally in the body when exposed to UVB rays from the sun.  It made sense that I was deficient because of my fair skin I burned any time I was in the sun for more than 10 minutes.  I have avoided the sun for years.  Looking into it further I kept seeing information that tanning beds could be an option for me.  So I decided to visit a salon to see how things worked.

I had never been in a tanning salon before. The only experience I had ever had with it was when my best friend in high school went to a salon once in a while. She didn’t burn and really didn’t go on a regular basis,   so I had no idea what it was like. I had the impression that you go in and lay in a bed for the amount of time you determine. I was mistaken. I was pleased that when I went in to Tan the Moon in my neighborhood, they had a knowledgeable staff. They gave me a questionnaire to fill out about my skin and how it reacts to the sun. We determined that I am a very fair skin type 2. Tanning was possible but it would be something to monitor closely. I started conservatively with just 2 minute sessions every other day.  I had no sign of burn after a week so we increased the time by a minute each week, carefully assessing my skin throughout the process to ensure there was no burn. In April I had my blood level checked and the results were astonishing. I was at 75ng/ml. I continued the tanning every 2 to 3 days for a while increasing the time by 1-2 minutes each week. I got up to 18 minute sessions in a level 1 bed. I was able to go outdoors over the summer for hours without burning because I had a base tan protecting me. With the increased time I was able to spend outdoors, I started to scale back my tanning sessions to once a week for 15 minutes. I will be going back to my doctor in the coming month and I am curious to see what my level is with this type of schedule. 

So just from that part of the experience I learned about how salons take into consideration a person’s skin type and that they limit how much time you spend in a tanning bed based on that. I learned that the fairest skin type, skin type 1 is not allowed to tan in a salon because that skin type will not tan. I learned that I am a very fair skin type 2 which is why I was able to use the equipment in a slow, careful, moderate way. I learned that there are time limits on each tanning bed no matter what skin type you are. I learned the time limit is based on calculations to give you 2/3 UV exposure that would induce a burn so there is a nice safe cushion of time to ensure burning doesn’t happen. I learned that a base tan does work at protecting skin from burning.  I found that salons have my safety as their highest priority.

I also learned that my Vitamin D level is connected to my muscle aches that I have suffered for years. Since dislocating my knee 7 years ago I have had constant pain and walking any distance was difficult. When I raised my Vitamin D level the pain subsided and I have been able to go to the gym and exercise without the pain that held me back for years. I’ve lost 35 pounds because I can exercise without pain. I have started walking 5k races and that takes me about an hour. The races are generally in the morning hours and there are always activities afterwards that I can mingle and participate in. I have done this without worry of sunburn since I have a base tan protecting my skin. Like I said, before tanning, I was not able to be in the sun for more than 10 minutes so being able to be out walking for over an hour is a life changing success. I was able to go to the pool with my kids without worry over the summer for the first time in my life. This is thanks to tanning and the base tan I have acquired.

I have learned there is a lot of bad press blaming tanning salons for increasing the risk of skin cancer when the actual risks are linked to other forms of tanning. The statistic cited over and over again is that “tanning before the age of 35 increases a person’s risk by 75%”, this is misleading. The World Health Organization's report comes from including other, more dangerous methods of tanning in order to get that statistic, yet it is never pointed out that salons were the method that showed no significant increase in risk. The report studied home units, dermatologist’s phototherapy treatments, and salons. Of those studied, home units increased the risk by around 35%, dermatologists increased the risk by 95% and THAT is what makes up that shocking 75% number. The media is not breaking that down and leads the public to believe that the full 75% comes from salons. That is wrong. There should be accountability for that.

I have learned that tanning helps with several skin conditions and members of my own family use tanning to treat various skin conditions. Psoriasis, Acne, Eczema are all treated successfully with tanning beds. Dermatologists offer treatments for these conditions using the same equipment for up to 10 times the cost to the consumer. I find it fascinating that dermatologists are the ones that are pushing to make laws limiting or outright banning salons when they themselves use the same equipment for phototherapy. They are increasing the risk of skin cancer by 95% because they do not have the safety practices in place like salons do. They don’t even take into consideration what a patient’s skin type is so they WILL treat a skin type 1 person with UV exposure. That is dangerous.  Hypocritical much dermatologists?

I keep hearing/seeing the argument that tanning beds have been classified as a level 1 carcinogen to try to alarm the public. They point out that there are terrible things that have been classified that way too like smoking and plutonium. What they don’t point out is that there are other everyday things that are classified as a level 1 carcinogen as well. To name a few, BBQ meats, wine, birth control pills, salted fish, and sawdust. They want to point out the carcinogen classification to scare people. It is another misleading and inaccurate method to try to sway you to believe tanning equals death. Tanning beds are classified that way because they emit the same UV rays as the sun; the sun is also classified as a level 1 carcinogen. Moderation is the right way to approach UV exposure and that should be the message. The UV avoidance message is what is contributing to the epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency.  The scare tactics need to stop.

Sunscreen should also be used in moderation. Cosmetic manufacturers would like you to believe that you need sunscreen every day all day.  Most Dermatologists are endorsing that message and that is irresponsible. This is a major factor in the Vitamin D deficiency crisis. If you slather on chemical sunscreen every day to block UV rays, you will not have a healthy Vitamin D level. That is increasing your risk of over 100 diseases and health risks including many forms of cancer.  So to me it seems Dermatologists feel it is a better trade off to risk other forms of cancer by blocking UV rays to combat the risk of skin cancer. That makes no sense. Why it is so hard to endorse a reasonable balanced message of UV moderation and that sunscreen should only be used when there is a risk of overexposure?

I have learned that tanners come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Many people seem to think a typical tanner looks like those in the media like Snooki or “the tanning mom” which doesn’t help the image of what it really is. Tanners are normal just like you or me, not the extreme of what the media hypes.

I think the year to come is going to be challenging, but I’m up for it. I hope to be able to give the other side of the story to those that have only heard the negative aspects of tanning.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Supplemental Inconsistency

A report came out this week stating that Vitamin D supplements have been found to be inconsistent with their dosage. 55 bottles, 12 different brands, both over the counter and prescription, were tested and found to have as little as 9% or as much as 146% of Vitamin D as the bottle’s label claimed.  Not only were there large variances in the supplements by brand, but also in the same bottle, pills varied in potency. With this information, it made me glad I decided to treat my Vitamin D deficiency through UV exposure instead of depending on a pill, like my doctor wanted me to do.

For someone that is Vitamin D deficient, they may have a false sense of security that they are taking care of the problem through supplements. They may think they are increasing their level and protecting themselves from so many health risks associated with low Vitamin D. When in reality they may not be getting enough Vitamin D to raise their level by even 1 point. This recent discovery is concerning to me.  We have such a high percentage of the population that is Vitamin D deficient and supplements are not going to help reduce that number, if they are not consistent or accurate.  Until the time when the variances in supplements are eliminated, UVB exposure through a tanning bed could be the most appropriate solution for many people. In the controlled environment of a salon, it seems it would be more reliable than a pill.

I know with each of my tanning sessions I am getting 10-20k IU of Vitamin D produced naturally through my skin’s receptors by being exposed to UVB rays. My body effectively and efficiently tolerates this method better than what can be found in a pill.  I also get the added mood boost which is a nice benefit a pill can’t provide.  It would be nice to get more information and publicity out there that UV exposure is really the best way to increase and/or maintain a healthy Vitamin D level. 

Know your level, keep checking it, and don’t count on a supplement to be your only source of Vitamin D if you can help it.

One of the recent articles about the subject:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Right to Tan

I’m not one to get political about things, but there are several states introducing bills to try to ban anyone under 18 from tanning. Two states (at least) have actually passed this sort of thing into law.  While I am all for keeping kids safe from potential dangers, I really don’t think these laws will have the affect the lawmakers are intending.  I honestly believe this could backfire, and the teenagers are the ones that are going to pay the price. Here are my thoughts on the matter.

Currently, the common practice for salons handling individuals under 18 is that they need a parent’s permission. The parent has to be present for the first visit, and the permission in most states will expire after a set amount of time. (like 6 months or a year) Once it has expired, the parent will have to grant permission again and attend that first visit again. This seems logical to me. As a parent, I want to have that level of involvement.

There are several reasons, other than getting a tan, which a young person would want to go to a tanning salon. Let’s face it, if getting color were the ONLY reason these kids want to tan, they could get it much quicker with a spray tanning product.  Of course, there is Vitamin D, but don’t kid yourself, I don’t think that the majority of teens are beating down the doors of salons because they are concerned about their Vitamin D level. (Not that they shouldn't be) But as a parent, that is the biggest reason I would want my kid to tan. Treating skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, or eczema are good reasons to visit a salon; UV exposure is successful in treating all of these conditions in many people. My son (he is an adult now) has started tanning to treat his acne and in the last 6 weeks there has been a significant improvement in his skin. Had I known years ago we could have success this way, I would have started him tanning in high school. Another reason a teen might want to tan, would be to get a base tan before a vacation. Spring break is coming up soon and many families (not just college students) go somewhere sunny at this time of year. Without a base tan to help protect against burns, it could be a long difficult week in the sun for kids who really don’t realize that you have to ease into sun exposure after long winter months. A base tan would minimize the risk of burn, and would help get them thinking about sun exposure so they don’t over-do it and get over-exposed.

So back to these proposed laws, while they may seem like a good idea they are really irresponsible. These laws would only ban teens from tanning in a salon, the safest and most controlled environment to tan. Without that as an option, teens may use a home unit, tanning beds that can be purchased online and used without any regulation or safety guidelines. If they can’t get one, they probably know someone who has one and they would use that.  A teen would be able to tan in a bed for as long as they want as often as they want, no one will be there to stop them. No one would be there to assess skin type, so a very fair skin type 1 teen would be able to lie in a bed as long as they want to try to tan and end up with a nasty, dangerous burn. If they don’t have access to a home unit, they could just lie in the sun for hours upon hours to try to get a tan without understanding the dangers and risks until it might be too late.  Salons make sure their equipment is used in the most responsible and safest way; they are educated and trained about how to operate it and know the limits of how long they are to be used by all skin types.

Banning teens from going to salons will only encourage them seek out other methods that could be more dangerous and raise the risk of skin cancer even higher. Again it comes down to moderation and responsibility, a salon is going to give you that. The standard practice of how things are done now is sufficient in my opinion. Requiring parental consent and having the parent actively involved should be all that is necessary. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

50 Shades of Tan

One of the things I would like to accomplish with my little blog is to change the attitude many people have about tanning and tanners. There is an overwhelming amount of comments I see with snide remarks about how people who tan are vain, that they should “love the skin they are in” and “embrace being pale” which clearly shows the misconception of a typical tanner.  There are many reasons to tan as I have pointed out, and there are many shades of tan.

I am fair and even at my tannest, I am what people would consider pale. My Vitamin D level is higher than the majority of the US population though. I see people come and go from the salon where I go, and they all have perfectly natural skin tones. They are not leathery or old looking. Those are typical tanners; some are tan, some not so much. Tanning for whatever reasons they have, some to get a base tan before a vacation (like the couple that were in the salon tonight) some to clear up a skin condition (like my son and brother) some to raise their Vitamin D level (like me) or just to chase away the winter blues (several people I know have told me this is the reason they tan). There are people that over-tan, of course, there are people that over-do things in all endeavors. People who abuse tanning are the minority, yet public opinion is that they are the norm.

When I see the comments like what I listed above like pale is beautiful/ love the skin/ if you are tan you are vain, I am so tempted to smack them with a reply, get your Vitamin D levels checked, you may be kidding yourself about pale being beautiful, pale can be more dangerous than you realize. I’ll admit, I don’t want to say these things in a courteous manner. But I just try to do what I do here; I try to tell my story so people will see there are good reasons to tan. I share what I have learned through this process. Will it sink in? Not with everyone, but maybe someone will get it. Someday they will get what a healthy Vitamin D level means or about the many diseases and health risks it prevents.  I guess that is where I come in with my desire to accomplish the change in attitude. Even if it reaches a few people, if they tell two friends and so on, and so on…. (if you grew up in the 70s and 80s you know what I am referring to there.)  ;P

Monday, January 28, 2013

Nutritional Vitamin D

I see so many misconceptions stated in articles that a person can get sufficient Vitamin D through diet. This is simply not true.  Check this out from an article about how to get every vitamin through food sources:

Why you need it: Vitamin D, which our body generates on its own when our skin is exposed to sunlight, helps spur calcium absorption and bone growth. It's also important for cell growth, immunity, and the reduction of inflammation.
Where to get it: Fatty fishes—including swordfish, salmon, and mackerel—are among the few naturally occurring dietary sources of vitamin D. (Cod liver oil is tops, with 1,360 IU per tablespoon, while swordfish is second with 566 IU, or 142% DV.) Most people tend to consume vitamin D via fortified foods such as milk, breakfast cereals, yogurt, and orange juice.
Good information, however, it doesn’t really tell you that you can’t get ENOUGH Vitamin D by simply eating these foods. The “142% DV” part is inaccurate; it leads the reader to believe that 566 IU of Vitamin D is adequate. While there is not really a clear or consistent RDA that seems to be agreed upon depending on your research, I feel the evidence of the epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency would need to be taken into consideration here. If the RDA listed here of 566 IU were a sufficient level for a person with an already healthy Vitamin D level, it would make sense that for a person that is deficient, they would need a higher intake.
How about some math to make my point?

To go from 20 ng/ml to 40 ng/ml would require an average additional intake of 2600 IU/day. So that would mean taking in 3166 IU per day. Considering that a 20ng/ml level is actually average (and well below the recommended range of 40-60ng/ml) for the US, the statement that 142% DV is misleading. So how much fatty fish and cod liver oil do you want to eat every day?

Now take a look at these numbers for comparison.

UVB Exposure
Natural Sunlight – 10,000 – 20,000 IU per day, in summer, 10am – 2pm
Tanning Bed with UVB – 10,000 IU per session
Salmon – fresh, wild, 3.5 oz – 400 – 1000 IU
Salmon – farmed, 3.5 oz – 100 - 250 IU
Fortified Milk – 8 oz – 100 IU
Vitamin D3 – from 400 – 1,000 IU in tablets or liquid

So what seems like the most effective and efficient source of Vitamin D? THIS is why it is important to know your level, and know how much Vitamin D you are getting. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fear Factor

I have seen several anti-tanning articles this week stating that tanning is 10 to 12 times more dangerous than the sun.  While I’m not sure what sparked this rash of fear based propaganda.  It is just a scare tactic that is overblown and misleading. So let me just say this. Tanning beds do have a more concentrated UV output, which is how you are able to tan in a fraction of the time it would take outdoors. This is nothing new; the tanning industry fully admits that.  Now, for some reason the media has decided to focus on that and make it seem more dangerous than tanning outdoors. So let’s look at that closer.

In a tanning salon you are assessed for skin type. Skin type 1 (the fairest type) would be turned away because the risk of burn is too high. That is a responsible practice. A salon would recommend spray tanning or nothing because their goal is to avoid burning their clients. Tanning outdoors is risky for these people too, does the sun turn them away? Any person of any skin type can go outdoors and stay in the sun as long as they want to try to tan their skin. That is risky because it isn’t controlled. There is a science to what the tanning industry does; they take into consideration the client’s skin type, the equipment available, and the frequency of how often a person tans in their salon. So how could that be worse than tanning outdoors? It isn’t, but the media wants to just focus on the fact that tanning beds have a higher UV concentration, but forget to point out there are safety measures in place to keep clients from sunburn. As I’ve said in previous blogs, there is a time limit on how long you stay in a bed depending on equipment and skin type. I can’t stress this enough.  The tanning beds may be stronger with UV output, but you are not in the bed as long as time you would be outdoors to get a tan.

The silly scare tactics of the articles I have been seeing are just that, scare tactics. I just hope that people realize that it is overblown and inaccurate way to present how tanning beds work. Don’t buy into the fear. There is nothing wrong with moderation and that is what salons encourage most.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How I Know A Base Tan Works

I hear the argument that a tan is skin damage and that a base tan is a myth. Well, I would like to say that given my personal experience, there are advantages to having a base tan. Before I started tanning I burned when I was in the sun more than 10-15 minutes. It was awful. I couldn’t do anything outside without a hat, shade or some kind of cover. Now, I can be outdoors without worry for hours. Tell me that isn’t an improvement in my life.

Prime example of how a base tan protects you from burning. A while back I went to tan and forgot I didn’t have my clothing I normally wear to tan. Sorry folks, I don’t do it in the buff…mostly so I could gauge if I was getting color. I am so fair you really can’t tell that I have a tan without actually seeing the contrast of my tan line. Anyway, I just went ahead and tanned in what I had and later that evening I noticed that the top I wore was cut a little lower than what I normally would wear under my arms. I knew that because I had a small strip of pink where the skin didn’t have a base tan.  It wasn’t a bad burn, just a little pink, but it made it abundantly clear that the base tan I had been working on was protecting my skin.

Again, burning is skin damage. I burned easily before starting this tan project. Within just a few months, by building up my tolerance of UV through the controlled environment of a salon, I was able to walk 5k walks on sunny days without any burn. I started tanning late February 2012 and my first 5k walk was in April. Then at least once a month I did a 5k throughout the summer. A 5k takes me about an hour to complete, and then I usually hang around afterwards to enjoy the festivities for 30 min to an hour.  The base tan was protecting me from burning.

To give an example for you to compare what it was like for me before. A few years ago I attended a funeral in April. There was a graveside service that lasted about 15 minutes. There was no shade so I had to just stand there in the sun and hope it wouldn’t last long. I could feel my skin getting hot and it was uncomfortable. I ended up with a burn on my face, chest, and the top of my feet that lasted for several days. That was just from 15 minutes of exposure. Now, that doesn’t mean I CAN’T burn, I am still careful to pay attention to how my skin feels when I am in the sun. Too much sun, even with a base tan, can and will burn and damage your skin. Know your limits and protect your skin from burning with a reasonable SPF when you will be exposed for an extended amount of time.

So when you hear a dermatologist say that tanning is damaging to your skin, remember, tanning is the body’s natural response to UV exposure, and a base tan does, in fact, protect your skin from burning.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ultra Sunscreen Overload

I was shopping with my family yesterday and stopped by the local Walgreens to pick up a few items. What caught my eye was the full aisle display of sunscreen right inside the door. This is January in Colorado. Why would this be so prominent in the store at this time of year? OK, skiing maybe. Higher elevation in the mountains and we do get a lot of sunshine on our slopes. But we are in Vitamin D winter and even in the mountains it is difficult to get a burn this time of year. Then there are the high numbers on these products. Wow. I just had to go check it out and I just can’t get over the SPF levels of these lotions and creams. It is so unnecessary to use an SPF of 90+ or 100+ which by the way, were nearly sold out! What is the thought process to purchase something like that? It is like putting a bandage on your skin in anticipation of a wound. It doesn’t make sense.  It is complete overkill. Even when I was super sensitive to the sun I didn’t need anything higher than 25-30 SPF. But these products are being marketed as more protection from skin cancer and they charge a higher price to have this false sense of security.

I believe that sunscreen is useful, don’t get me wrong, but ONLY when sunburn needs to be prevented. Daily incidental sun exposure is not going to burn you.  The fact that it is included in most make-up, moisturizers, and other cosmetics is hard to completely avoid.  When I go tan I normally do not wear make-up or anything containing SPF. Sometimes that is hard because I will stop in before or after work, so there is product on my face. I always use a lip balm with SPF though. Lips don’t have the cells that produce melanin so they do need to be protected. Other than that, I find that the SPF 15 included in my foundation is sufficient to keep me burn free.  

If we wear these high SPF products every day all the time, we are blocking the important UVB rays from our skin. That means we are keeping our bodies from producing Vitamin D. That means we are risking many health problems by being Vitamin D deficient. That cycle needs to stop. Moderate UVB exposure is what we need. So let’s all put down that SPF lotion, unless we are going to be in the sun for an extended period of time. Remember, sunburn should always be avoided. Know your skin, and your reaction to exposure to gauge how much time you should spend in the sun without SPF. Use a reasonable SPF sunscreen, don't fall for the high number gimmick.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolution for 2013

Happy New Year! I have been thinking about what I would like to do in the coming year. I would really like to spread the word that tanning is not evil and an automatic skin cancer sentence. But how do I do that? When I started this blog I really had no idea how much negative and inaccurate information I was up against.  It seems that for every positive comment on an article I read about tanning there are 100 negative. And from the negative it is all about skin cancer. How can I change that perspective? How can it be more balanced? I think it can be done, but it will be an uphill battle. I am happy that I am not alone in this battle for I do see comments that are positive. Although I suspect these are from salon owners and staff because it seems the general public is still in the dark, so to speak, about the positive side of tanning. So the few of us out there spreading the word need to plant the seed, nurture it, and watch it grow.

Education about the benefits of tanning needs to be in the forefront. So much focus has been on the negative and the solution most professionals offer is simply sun avoidance. But they don’t point out the major risks of their solution. Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic right now because of that ill conceived solution. Yet we are now hearing about how important Vitamin D is and how having a healthy level is the key in preventing so many diseases. What’s the professional’s solution? “Avoid the sun; just take a pill to get your Vitamin D.” But we can get vitamin D more efficiently through UVB exposure. Why can’t the message be, “Moderate UVB exposure is the best for most, but for those that can’t tan (skin type 1) or are high risk for skin cancer, take a pill.”  Is that so hard?  The general public needs to be educated that the message they have been told for so many years is wrong. It has caused a major health risk because it wasn’t balanced.

What I intend to do is continue finding articles and blogs to share my story with. Maybe someone will read it and understand that it can be beneficial to tan and perhaps they too will have an experience like mine and tell their story. That is really all I can do right now. I do hope it grows and people will become more educated that the risks of tanning are minimal compared to the risk of Vitamin D deficiency.