By: Sarah Ames
Now that winter finally seems to be thawing, USC students are beginning to work on their tans for pool season. But a bronzed bod seems to be more important to some than others.
Senior Lexi Bickler thinks it's important to start working on your tan before it's even warm enough to brave the pool.
"I do want to look tanner you know...I'm spending the money and I'm exposing myself to all those cancer radiation rays so I want the results," Bickler said.
Lexi has been tanning a few times a week in a tanning bed at "Sun Your Buns" in West Columbia. She hopes that by the time spring has rolled around she will have the start to that perfect glow.
"You don't want to go lay out at the pool for a full day having no tanning or base tan whatsoever because you could get really sunburned that way," Bickler said.
Basking in the sun always seems to be a popular activity in the famously hot Columbia, but many people turn to tanning beds as an alternative method to laying out in the sun. And some, like Lexi, think that getting a base tan in a bed first can prevent you from getting a worse burn later.
Not everyone agrees. Tina Marie Devlin is the Associate Director of Faculty and Staff Wellness at Carolina. After running a sun safety campaign last year she is well versed on the topic. One true/false question she said most people get wrong is just that: It is better to get a base tan from UV lamps or beds prior to laying outside--True or False?
"False. Do not use tanning beds or lamps. There is no such thing as a 'safe tan'," Devlin says.
Devlin says being enclosed in that tight space of a bed is causing extra exposure and provides no protection. She said really all forms of sun exposure are equally dangerous.
"Any tanning or darkening of the skin is not good and not safe," Devlin said.
So why every year do the tanning salons and pools fill up with sun bathers? Many people still tan knowing the possible harmful effects in can cause--such as skin cancer.
"Because it makes them look good and feel good.They say that being 'pasty' or pale isn't sexy or beautiful. Some even say it makes them feel thinner," Devlin says.
But spring's rapid approach isn't the only reason Bickler turns to tanning beds. She says her doctor actually recommended a moderate amount of sun exposure daily. Bickler says the 15 minutes of warm light on her helps improve her mood during the dreary and gloomy winter months. She says it also helps with her sensitive skin.
"It's great to have that option to be tan if I want....and you know it also really does help with dry skin, exima and depression," Bickler said.
Devlin admits that the sun provides the main source of Vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones and our overal well-being. But she did offer a few pieces of advice for all the sun goddesses out there this spring.
Devlin says to always use at least SPF 15 sun tanning lotion, and to re-apply it often. She said it's important to wear large brim hats and sunglasses while outside to protect your eyes and scalp from the suns rays.
Devlin also recommends limiting your time outside if possible and to especially be careful of laying out during primtime sun exposure. This is when the suns rays are the most intense in the sky, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and it's also prime time pool hours.
But the most important peice of advice she gives is simple:
"Love the skin that you have! Whether its the creamier fairer skin or the you know darker color skin, love the skin you have," Devlin said.
It's known that UV rays whether absorbed from outside or in a bed can have negative effects if overexposed. But the sun is also vital to our health for its source of vitamin D, and Bickler claims it helps not only with her base tan, but it aso improves her moods in the winter as well as helping sooth her sensitive skin. But with anyhting in life, it's important to rememember that moderstaion is key.