There are few bad habits that have healthy alternatives. There's no such thing as a lung-friendly cigarette or a steak that does not raise your cholesterol. At least one exception comes to mind: tanning.
Sunless tanners fill the shelves at drugstores and cosmetic counters -- you can even get your dermis professionally sprayed and colored -- but many people still refuse to stop basking their skin in ultraviolet radiation.
It's puzzling why this is so; deep tans are jarring and unnatural -- the opposite of healthy. But it's not puzzling as to why more people don't take the healthy alternative. Fake tans are just that -- fake looking and, well, equally ugly.
A bunch of doctor types have proven that a few good beauty tricks is all it takes for a lot of sun worshippers to quit their dangerous habit. They hung out at two Massachusetts beaches and confronted bikini-clad beauties about their bronzing. The docs convinced them to try the fake stuff, gave them samples and tips on how to apply it the right way, got their phone numbers, and then followed up with them a few months and one year later to see if they changed their sunny ways.
These researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that after two months, the sunless tanning group said they were sunbathing one-third less than those who didn't get the tanners. After a year, the sunless tanners said they were sunbathing 35 percent less.
The doctors think they have stumbled upon a revolutionary approach to fighting skin cancer, making sunless tanning an important part of skin cancer prevention. A nice thought, but unless cosmetology courses become part of the medical school curriculum, I'm not sure how well it will translate into the real world. Any time I've tried one of these tanners, I've turned out an orange streaked mess. Professional spray tans may be an improvement, but they cost a lot more than dragging your lounge chair out into the sun.
But I still can't believe how many people still think tans -- real OR fake -- are attractive. Take Snooki. Like her or hate her, here's a woman with absolutely gorgeous, tight, poreless skin. Part of her tan is fake, but not all. Why she continues to purposely abuse her lovely skin like this is beyond me.
So I'm going to make a suggestion to those UMASS researchers: Get a hold of Nicole. There's got to be some medical study or public relations scare tactic in there somewhere.
Do you use sunless tanners? Are they any substitute for the real thing?
Image via Splash Photos