– by Nikki Hunt

Red head “Girls Aloud” star Nicola Roberts has recently joined a government campaign to ban salon sunbeds for under 18s and outlaw unsupervised tanning booths.

Roberts features in a BBC3 documentary called ‘The Truth about Tanning’ which says: “Teens are in the grip of a deadly epidemic in their bid to be bronzed.”

The pop star explains that she used to be hugely insecure about being pale: “If I didn’t have a tan, I didn’t feel attractive. But I realise this was massively unhealthy.”

Whilst filming the documentary, she witnessed girls as young as 11 who were able to go to a tanning salon and a boy who would inject himself with melanin everyday. He also takes tanning pills, has spray tans three times a week and uses a sunbed everyday, sometimes twice a day, all in order to achieve the perfect tan.

Melanin is the brown pigment in skin that causes tanning and protects the skin from burning. However it doesn’t prevent UVA rays penetrating the skin and causing serious damage. Not only can it cause cancer, but UV radiation can also cause wrinkles, brown age spots and leathery, older-looking skin.

Melanoma, the most serious and deadly type of skin cancer, is now the most common cancer in young adults aged 15-24, with over 65,000 new cases diagnosed every year.


Fran Frith, a first year student at the University of Lincoln, was advised by a friend to use sunbeds instead of her usual spray tan so it wouldn’t go blotchy in the sea on holiday. She said: “I used sunbeds for the first time last July for my leaver’s prom. I think in total I did about 4 or 5 sessions. I wasn’t really worried because they only lasted 6 minutes so I thought I wouldn’t be at that much of a risk.

“When I told my other friends though, they said it was really dangerous and you could get skin cancer from just a 3 minute session. So when I came back from holiday I went back to using tan out of the bottle because I do think sunbeds are just too risky.”

Cancer Research UK say that anyone who is under 18, has fair or freckly skin, has a lot of moles or has a family history of skin cancer shouldn’t use sunbeds at all. Further to this, evidence has shown that regular tanning sessions in your teens more than doubles the chances of developing skin cancer in your 40s and 50s.

Fran admits that she doesn’t think the benefits of tanning outweigh the risk of skin cancer: “In my opinion after the sessions I had, I couldn’t even see that much of a difference, so I imagine you’d have to have quite a few more and go regularly, and by doing that you’re putting yourself at a high risk of skin cancer. It’s really not worth it just for a tan when you can get really good (fake) ones now for under £10. I’d say don’t get into the habit because it’ll be hard to stop and being slightly pale isn’t the end of the world.”

The EU have warned recently that some tanning beds and operators violate safety regulations putting users at risk of skin cancer. So, would you risk it?

One thought on “Would you risk a tan?”
  1. This is so sad! I tanned in beds when I was younger, but I wouldn’t have if I had known the risk. I am in my 30’s now and I still love the look of being tanned. I usually spray tan , but I also use self tanners at home. I will never go into a tanning bed again. The risks are too high for me! If your looking for a great alternative to sun bathing and tanning beds, why not try spray tanning? Most spray tans look natural, they are quick and you look great. If you prefer to use an at home self tanner, the one I use is called Lasting Envy. It is a spray tan in a can. It smells good and looks fantastic. Another plus is that I can apply it without the help of anyone else. If your looking for a great way to get a tan, that’s what I would recommend.

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