16 May 2012

Dermatologists urge women to embrace the natural beauty of their skin and ban the tan

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (May 21, 2012) —Many women today want to look fresh-faced and natural, which often is equated with being young. However, a new survey found that some women, especially young women, still favor the unnatural — and unhealthy — look of a tan.

Survey statistics 
The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) conducted an online survey of adults nationwide which found:
  • Nearly three-fifths (58 percent) of respondents 18 to 29 years old thought people looked more attractive with a tan.
  • Nearly three-fourths (71.3 percent) of respondents 18 to 29 years old agreed with the statement, "Sun exposure is good for your health."
  • In the past year, about 40 percent of respondents under age 30 tried to get a tan (used a tanning bed, spent time in the sun, used a self-tanner or got a spray tan).
  • One-fourth (25.2 percent) of respondents 18 to 29 years old were unsure if sun exposure can cause wrinkles.
“Our survey showed that age was highly associated with tanning, as the respondents under age 30 were more likely to use tanning beds and spend time in the sun,” said board-certified dermatologist Zoe D. Draelos, MD, FAAD. “Ultimately, seeking to change the color of your skin is self-defeating because exposure to ultraviolet radiation — either through tanning beds or by seeking the sun — can lead to wrinkles, prematurely aging skin and even a diagnosis of skin cancer.”

To address the dangers of tanning and encourage young women to embrace their natural skin color, the Academy produced a television public service advertisement (PSA) targeting this group. “Born” showcases the beauty of skin from infancy to toddlerhood to the teen years and asks women to change their thinking, not their skin, and stop tanning. “Born” was distributed to television and cable stations nationwide in May and also is posted on the Academy’s YouTube channel. The Academy’s PSAs can be viewed at

Skin cancer facts 
  • Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is the most common cancer for 25- to 29-year-olds and the second-most-common cancer for 15 to 29 year olds.
  • Melanoma is increasing faster in females 15 to 29 years old than males in the same age group. In females 15 to 29 years old, the torso/trunk is the most common location for developing melanoma, which may be the result of high-risk tanning behaviors.
  • Exposure to tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma, especially in women aged 45 years or younger.
“The Academy is committed to raising awareness of skin cancer prevention and helping young women understand that a tan is not beautiful, but a sign of irreversible skin damage,” said Dr. Draelos. “If you want to be tan, use a spray tan — which is a safe alternative to tanning by artificial or natural ultraviolet light.”

In an effort to increase the public’s understanding of skin cancer and motivate people to change their behavior to prevent and detect skin cancer, the Academy launched the new SPOT Skin Cancer™ public awareness initiative this May. The campaign’s simple tagline — “Prevent. Detect. Live.” — focuses on the positive actions people can take to protect themselves from skin cancer, including seeing a board-certified dermatologist when appropriate.

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month®. Also debuting in May is the SPOT Skin Cancer™ program’s new website — — where visitors can learn how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map for tracking changes in their skin, and find free skin cancer screenings in their area. Those affected by skin cancer can share their story via the website and download free materials to educate others in their community.

Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at
1-888-462-DERM (3376) or Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology) or Twitter (@AADskin).

About the Academy’s survey

The survey was conducted by Relevant Research Inc. of Chicago from Dec. 29, 2011, to Jan. 4, 2012. A total of 1,151 adults age 18 and older completed the online survey. Data were weighted by sex, age, race/ethnicity and education level based on the U.S. Census Current Population Survey (released December 2011).