Can Going Tanning Cause Depression And Low Self-Esteem?

I feel like I probably don’t need to tell you guys that going tanning at a tanning salon is bad news. I’m sure most of you already know that based on the constant warnings we get about skin cancer that is a result of the extremely strong UV rays that are being blasted onto your body in a tanning bed. I mean, there are enough magazine articles, TV specials and news stories about it to last the rest of our lives. But did you know that going tanning may be doing damage to your self-esteem as well as your skin?

Research proves, yet again, that going tanning really isn’t doing you any favors. A new study found that 45 percent of people who go tanning, aged 18 – 34-years-old, are unhappy with how they look. It also found that 30 percent of people who go tanning go because they want to look more attractive – and obviously, it’s not really working out the way they want it to. And to put this in perspective, only 36 percent of young people who had never gone tanning before said they were unhappy with their appearance.

Here’s what’s happening: tanning is actually making your skin look worse. As health manager Caroline Cerny says, “We live in an image-obsessed culture and know many sunbed users continue to use them because they think they look better with a tan. But actually they are making their skin look worse in the long run. The most unhappy they are with the skin they’re in, the more they may use sunbeds – it’s a vicious cycle.”

So why are people still going to the tanning salon if doing so really isn’t making them feel any better about themselves? Out of the 45 percent of people who said they were suffering from low self-esteem, eight out of every ten say they go because they feel pressure to look more tan. 29 percent of those 45 percent said they went because of peer pressure, 30 percent said they want because of celebrities (thanks, Snooki) and 45 percent said they go because the media makes them feel like they have to.

What do those findings mean? Basically, people are tanning because they feel like they have to tan. Somewhere along the line, orange bronze skin became popular and suddenly, everyone had to have it. And since we don’t all have the luxury of living somewhere where going to the beach year-round is possible, a lot of people have resorted to tanning salons.

Look, I get it. Some people are really into being tan. I myself am one of those people. I enjoy having a nice golden glow going on – but instead of making that happen under artificial sunlight, I tan whenever I get the chance to go to the beach. (I use sunscreen! I know, I know, it’s still bad. I’m sorry. I try.) Being tan can be nice. I totally get it.

Not a great look, amirite? | Source:

Not a great look, amirite? | Source:

But, and not to sound like your mom or anything, I have to warn you guys against using these tanning beds. Honestly, going to a tanning salon is SO bad for you. Tanning in general is bad for you! When tanning indoors, you become exposed to UV-A and UV-B rays, which leads to skin cancer. And bad news for young people: we have a 75 percent higher risk of getting melanoma. And while cancer is the worst result of tanning, it also leads to wrinkles, eye damage, a change in skin texture and premature aging.

Oh, and another thing? Tanning is addictive, guys. It can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol and that’s pretty serious. The rewarded feeling people experience after going tanning is the same as the feeling smokers get after having a cigarette or alcoholics get after having a drink. So if you think you’re just going to get a tan “once in a while” so you don’t look pasty, think again: you could keep coming back for more.

I know it might be difficult to kick your tanning habit, but in the end, it will be worth it. You don’t want skin cancer, right? Right. You don’t want to look like a wrinkly old lady in 10 years when you should still look fresh-faced, right? Right. You don’t want to be compared to the horrible orange Tan Mom, right? Right. So, don’t go tanning. Use self-tanner or bronzer if you feel like you need some sort of glow happening. If you do it, I promise I will also take my own advice.

Do you go to the tanning salon? How often do you go? Why do you like tanning? Tell me in the comments.


6 products to make you look tan without tanning

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter

Posted in: Your Body
Tags: , ,
  • Leerone

    I hate tanning and I always avoid tanning. Because I don’t tan. My skin color turns into red and I don’t think tanning looks good on me. So when I go to a holiday I always use 50+ protecting sun creams. Like a baby. Maybe I should use products for babies?

  • Julia

    First of all, you kind of left out the part about how some doctors may even recommend tanning in small amounts for people who feel depressed because it is a source of vitamin D.

    Secondly, those stupid bronzing/self-tanning lotions have so many chemicals in them anyway, you can probably get cancer from those too.