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!