Fake bake thee NOT!

I have been meaning to do this post for a while, and seeing as the weather is starting to warm up, people are starting to “prep” for summer, now is as good a time as any. Many of you know this, but most of the web sites we build at work have to do with health education. Skin cancer prevention in particular. In fact, I just looked and almost exactly a year ago I posted a general sun safety post! Damn, I am nothing if not regular.

But today I get to wear my Oliver Stone hat and rail against something devious as well as dangerous. The tanning industry. Yes, pretty much next to tobacco, they are quickly becoming one of the most deceitful, purposely malicious and hurtful industry there is in relation to public health. Discounting Wal-Mart of course.


Consider this:

– The United States Department of Health & Human Services has declared ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, as a known carcinogen.

– Indoor tanning lamps emit UVA and UVB radiation at levels that are far higher than the sun. New, high-pressure sunlamps emit doses that can be as much as 15 times that of the sun.

– The indoor tanning industry has an estimated revenue of $5 billion, a fivefold increase from 1992.

– There are 25,000 indoor tanning facilities, many are well-positioned around high schools and other places of easy youth access.

– 95% of tanners exceed the limits for UV exposure.

– Tanning facilities are poorly regulated, infrequently inspected and parental consent is not enforced.

– Tanning facilities also frequently give their customer’s false information about the effects of UV, and/or marketing gimmicks that makes them tan at far higher levels than are safe.


“But I need a base tan.”


– A tan is your skin’s way of shielding itself from the sun. It’s all skin damage.

– Tans have only an SPF 4 and are not protective.

– UV causes at least 90% of all skin cancer.

– Melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) incidence increased 120% in the U.S. from 1973 to 1994.


OK, now that you feel like you are back in a boring high school biology class, I am SERIOUS about this! And not just because I get in big trouble if I walk into work with even a whiff of a tan and I want you all to be as lily white as I am.

It really is something I am passionate about.

In the immortal words of Sergeant Phil Esterhaus, “Let’s be careful out there.”

This article has 35 comments

  1. Rhiannon

    I’m forwarding this to my girlfriend who I can now not stand next to, because she makes me look transluscent.

    Pale is beautiful!-+

  2. Autumn

    My step-mom has stage IV melanoma. Pale skin is much preferable to this horrible disease.
    They should have to put up large warning signs with pictures of cancer patients in those tanning rooms.

  3. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    But Autumn that would stop the flow of money!

  4. Mamma

    And ewww that orange hue isn’t flattering on anyone.


  5. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    I should be clear that when I said fake bake, I meant tanning beds, not the lotions. Those are not cancerous at all!

    In fact, when we train at schools, we do throw it out as an option when hard pressed. Although the general consensus is to try to break the “tan is beautiful” preconception.

  6. Sizzle

    I have never actually tanned. I just freckle. My Irish skin can’t take the sun. I’m generally slathered in sun screen. It’s good you put this message out there!

  7. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Mollyfa, I totally did it in high school – you are not alone.

    My dermatologist thinks I am the biggest freak ever when I get him to check about 50 spots every time I see him, because I am so paranoid.

  8. J at www.jellyjules.com

    Oh, this makes me so sad. I love having a deep, rich tan. I fool myself that it makes the cellulite on my thighs seem somehow less cottage cheesy, and that it looks healthy and wonderful. I tanned tanned tanned for my teen years, burning and baking in baby oil and tan accelerators until I moved to San Francisco, land of fog, at the age of 21. I miss tanning desperately.

    And…I have had three yucky looking moles removed, and they all hurt. I have scars from them that are yucky as well. My grandmother had skin cancer (just a spot on her nose that was removed with no further trouble, thank goodness), and I fear that all of that tanning and burning I did as a child and teen will come back to haunt me in the coming decades. Sigh.

    I know how bad it is, and still…I miss it. And I loved it. I imagine people who quit smoking feel this way, looking back on the dangerous pleasure they once enjoyed.

  9. Anonymous

    I love that you bring up important stuff like this.

  10. Lara

    i used to wish i could tan, but i gave up even trying many years ago. now i just embrace my paleness and slather on the sunblock. 🙂

  11. Mayberry

    Preaching to the choir here (but I’m still glad you posted this).

    When I was in college and spent some summers in California, my friends would tease me for coming back to school as white as I left. I am proud to be pale!

  12. Kathy

    I’ve been embracing my vampire-like pallor for twenty years now.

  13. Loralee Choate

    I make Nicole Kidman look like she has an outdoor glow, so obviously I have taken these words to heart.

  14. zipper

    preach the word.

  15. Mollyfa

    OK, I may be the only one brave enough to admit that I was a tanner. Of all sorts. Sit in the sun with nothing but baby oil. Fake Bake before prom. Luckily, finances kept me out of the booth most of the time. We were told that it was safe because you wouldn’t burn, and it was the burning that really hurt your skin. I know better now. I embrace my natural color, and wear moisturizers complete with spf 15 year round. It’s funny how I now look at other young kids with their unnatural mid winter tans and think, wow, that really doesn’t look good at all.

    This is all great information, and stuff that we don’t hear enough. Thanks for the post.

  16. samantha jo campen

    Rock on sister girlfriend. I’ve never understood those things. Use the spray tanning places! Or the tanning lotions! Why nuke yourself under those lights? Bah.

  17. Sarcastic Mom (aka Lotus)

    I 100% agree – fake tanning via beds is disgusting. I can’t believe people still subject themselves to it after all we know about it.

  18. gorillabuns

    I don’t tan – hell, I don’t even own a bathing suit. I burn within 10 minutes of hitting the sun therefore, I’ve stayed out of the sun for years. Especially since I had a pre-cancerous mole removed.

  19. Keely

    Seriously! Great post. I remember hearing in high school (AGES ago) that a friend of a pals grandmother cooked her organs from repetitive tanning at various places around town so she could look perfect for an event. Could have been the beginnings of an urban myth, but it scared the heck out of me and still makes me cringe.

  20. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    MB, they have not learned from the tobacco settlement at all.

  21. Anonymous

    whoa. creepy stuff.

  22. Jonathan Merchant

    You ought to get some of those infrared photos of peoples skin, there’s the ones that show tanned skin and untanned skin. Those things are nasty! It’s like the lung pictures of smokers and non-smokers…

    And to think not so long ago, tanned skin was the sign of a poor working class person and pale skin was that of a wealthy elite.

  23. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Jonathan, that is done at trainings sometimes too! It is FREAKY.

  24. Nadine

    Not to mention people are starting to turn orange! It’s scary.

    Great post, excellent for posting that. A lot of people just don’t know the dangers.

    I have NEVER done indoor tanning. And you just remembered me why.

  25. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Ash, oh my word!!!!! How scary!!!! Glad you caught it so early!!!

  26. jenB

    I just wanted to come and leave you and AMEN SISTER!!!

  27. Candy

    Yes, even though I know all this, I will still be planning my vacation to the Jersey Shore in a few weeks. You can take the girl away from the beach, but you can’t take the beach out of the girl. Or something like that.

  28. MB

    and I just saw a report this morning that the tanning industry is trying to say that there’s no significant evidence that tanning beds cause melanoma! Can you believe that shit?

  29. Scott Booker

    So what you are saying…is that I should be happy that I look like a hairy albino!?

  30. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Oh Candy, I *love* going to the beach. Mexico is one of the best places on earth!!! We just bring all the gear we need!

  31. Becky

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Ashmystir

    YAY for the post Aimee.

    I have not ever been a sun worshipper. I was just bad about putting sun block on UNTIL a few years ago. When I was diagnosed with MELANOMA!! Freaked me out. It was found on my back when I had only gone to the Dermatologist to have a wart removed. I was VERY lucky that it had not spread deeper than the surface layer. I stil get checked by my derm..2 times a year. He told me that he’d smack me with a 2×4 if I had a tan line again. Thanks!

  33. Builder Mama

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this reminder.

    This is from someone who had a chunk of face frozen off on Tuesday. Pre-cancerous face. Thanks to that accidental sunburn I got in Cabo two years ago.

    I would rather be pale than get cancer, anyday.

  34. carrie

    I agree.

    When I was a teen, I took to the tanning beds before each vacation, hoping to establish some good ole sun damage so I wouldn’t burn . . . logical, right? What a joke!

    Now, I am more afraid of skin cancer and wrinkles than I am of scaring people with my paleness. So, please pass the self tanner!

  35. JennyMoose

    Having been through 20 skin cancer removals, incuding one in my tear duct that required my eye to be rebuilt, I can say it is so not worth it! All I did was go sailing every day when I should have been in school. Wear the sunscreen!
    That said, if you must look tan, Glow Fusion makes a great self tanner (use the FAIR). Fake Bake lotion was one of the worst I have ever used. But it smelled great, like mangoes.

Comments are now closed.
Send this to a friend