It almost sounds like a movie plot. In the trailer, the announcer’s booming voice would say, “What if one drug could make you tan, thin, and sexy?”
Well, it turns out that this is actually a reality. Melanotan, also known as “The Barbie Drug,” has existed for some time now. Unsurprisingly, its genesis took root in the eighties, a decade in which being tan had taken on a new significance. Being tan meant that one was healthy. Those who were tan had leisure time to do things like golf and play tennis. It was in this social environment that The Barbie Drug was created.
At the University of Arizona, researchers started tinkering with a drug that would help people to develop a natural golden glow. A dermatologist and an endocrinologist combined forces to create a synthetic hormone that would help the pitifully pale to become golden gods. But, as they continued to work on their new drug, they began to notice some additional benefits of the drug, now called Melanotan. Not only did Melanotan encourage tanning of the skin, but it also affected the area of the brain that triggered arousal, in addition to suppressing the appetite. They had hit the mother lode.
As with any new drug, many trials took place over the following years, including testing on both rats and humans. The drug never received a stamp of approval from the FDA. However, that did not stop people from marketing it.
Unsurprisingly, the drug became popular in the entertainment business as soon as people became aware of it. A tan without sun damage, with the added benefits of arousal and slenderizing? Many models and actors couldn’t resist the lure of The Barbie Drug.
As of 2014, it is still possible to log onto the internet and order some Melanotan. Although the FDA has cautioned people not to buy it, they’ve never aggressively pursued legal action against companies like Melanotan US who promote the drug. Users have reported a range of reactions to the product, with some who swear by it and others who have suffered horrendous reactions. Since the drug is injected, this presents an entire array of concerns, starting with the safety of the needles used. Also, most people who are interested in Melanotan are not skilled in properly mixing or injecting drugs. Complications such as vomiting, nausea, and headaches have been widely reported. Some users have even had to be hospitalized.
Then there are the possible long-term effects of the drug, which remain to be seen. Many users report that Melanotan causes their moles to change, or that it even causes new moles to appear. This leads doctors to believe that Melanotan users may be putting themselves at risk for melanoma in the future.
In short, the moral for the fictitious movie about Melanotan can be summarized as follows: If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Tanning is the body’s natural response to ultraviolet rays (UV rays). Whether the rays are natural such as that being emitted by the sun or the UV rays are created by a tanning enterprise, the effects on the body are quite similar. When exposed to an extended amount of UV rays, the body becomes damaged and in an attempt to protect itself, it produces a pigment. This pigment or protective skin tone that the body adopt is what is predominantly known as tanning. So in other words, it is the body’s defense mechanism to UV rays damage that has become a highly sought after fad in the 20th century. This article will address a majority of the risks associated with tanning that is acquired both artificially as well as naturally.
The body naturally makes genetic modifications and adaptations based on where you are born and access and frequency of sunlight. In essence, whoever is born and grows up in an environment that the extremely sunny has a natural adaptation to this sunlight and will almost always develop a natural resistance from low amounts of the sun UV rays (as long as they are not overexposed). An individual who is growing in an area that has limited sunlight is unable to make an extreme switch to an area with extensive sunlight without suffering negative consequences. Whichever group of people living in an area with limited sunlight, evolves genetically over time and their requirement of the sunlight enhanced vitamin D is not mandatory. As a result, their bodies find different mean of acquiring this precious vitamin. Whenever these (predominantly) light-skinned individuals are exposed to an extended amount of sunlight they must wear some form of skin protection to protect them from the sun’s UV rays.
Nowadays, the earth’s ability to protect us from extreme amounts of UV rays is diminishing, The depletion of the ozone layer of the earth is gradually allowing more UV rays from the sun to penetrate our skin. So, even some darker pigmented people who are used to extreme amounts of sunlight are becoming more at risk from the carcinogenic effects of the sun’s UV rays.
A list of the risks of tanning (whether natural or unnatural) on the skin includes:
- Tanning not only exposes the body to harmful UVA rays but also UVB. This is especially true among individual who take part in unnatural tanning. This form includes indoor tanning beds and booths in which the UV rays are scientifically created by a machine and exposed to the body. Many states have laws that protect minors from getting involved too early in these indoor tanning procedures. It has been proven that one’s chance of developing melanoma increases dramatically when one’s involvement in tanning became a daily routine.
- All types of tanning accelerates the aging process that the skin goes through. It also promotes early skin wrinkling in some individuals. Age spots also become eminent as early as in the early as 25 years old. We live in a world that is extremely self conscious about external bodily appearance. Yet, if we are not careful, the same approach we are using to maintain beauty, and youthful appearances, might actually be the same ones that are making us old and damaging our bodies.
- Not only does prolonged exposure to indoor tanning changes ones skin texture, it can also increase the risk of the user contracting blinding eye disease (whenever eye protection is not used). So, in an attempt to achieve the perfect (socially accepted)skin color, you could be actually damaging the texture of the skin. For those who think that the tanning bed procedure should be a quick in and out procedure that requires not external protection, also faces the possibility of an eye disease to add to the numerous other side effects of tanning.
- Believe it or not, your skin can get damaged by indoor or outdoor tanning. In other words, your skin can get burnt by excessive tanning. So, aside from the long term effects of cancer, when the skin is exposed to the sun without proper skin protection or high intensity bulbs are used in some tanning booths, severe burns can be experienced.
- While it may be true that some sun exposure can facilitate the absorption of vitamin d, the depletion of the ozone layer is causing this to become a dangerous habit. It is best to limit one exposure to the sunlight and take advantage of the morning sunlight if possible, rather than midday or evening sunlight.
- In some cases tanning has caused severe allergic reactions. This is usually not known until the recipient tries some for of tanning. Some skin is sensitive to the point that it rejects the tanning and react negatively to any form of indoor or outdoor excessive UV exposure.
A change in skin color encompasses a verity of classifications of colors and causes. Changes in the color of skin includes colors like:
- Brown (bronze or tan)
- Black (tinted skin)
The discoloration of the skin can appear either in patches or it can come in a uniformed pattern on the skin. This discoloration of the skin could appear as:
- Red spots in blotches
- Bruising from blood clotting underneath the skin
- Moles or birth marks changing in appearance
- A tint or darkening of the facial skin (hyperpigmentation)
- The skin appearing flushed with redness
- The skin appearing yellow in combination with the eyes (Jaundice)
- The skin appearing to be shedding
- The skin appearing to have a pale bluish or grayish tone (cyanosis). This condition can also be seen in the lips and nails
- The skin having white patches (vitiligo)
- Spotting on the skin in the form of red or purple spots (petechiae)
- The skin appearing unusually light in color (hypopigmentation)
Skin color is a result of melanocytes cells in the skin that produce pigment. This pigment is known as melanin. It is the same factor that creates the darker skin of African Americans. The darker the skin the more melanin is being produced by the melanocytes skin cells, while the less melanin produced by the melanocytes skin cells a lighter shade of skin is produced. The selection of how much melanin is produced by the melanocytes skin is a natural process, and creates the many variation of skin tones in humans. However changes in skin tone may be an indicator that melanin production has either increased or decreased. This can be caused by either or changes in hormone levels or medications.
The normal pigment produced by the production of melanin is brown, but an optical circumstance called the “Tyndall effect” causes the melanin patches deeper in the rest of the skin to appear green, grey, or even blue.
Skin color changes can also be indicators of several conditions, diseases, or disorders such as:
- Malignancy (cancer)
- Organ failure
- Allergic reactions
Changes in skin color can start out as small spots and gradually grow in area, or they can seemingly appear from out of nowhere. The discoloration can be concentrated in one small area (like with a rash from a single bug bite), or the discoloration can appear all over the entire body (like with jaundice), depending on the cause of the discoloration.
Server skin color changes should never be ignored because they may be an indication of a more serious health condition that will need immediate attention. Some conditions like allergic reactions can quickly escalate into a life-threatening situation, while conditions like infections and cancer respond better to earlier treatment.
Skin color changes can also be accompanied by other symptoms including:
- Changes the texture of the skin
- Increase in or the beginning of the loss of hair
- Swelling and irritation in certain areas of the body
- Areas of the skin being sensitive to sunlight (photosensitivity)
- Flaking or pealing of the skin
- Variance in temperature
- The gaining or losing of weight
- Tingling or burning pain
- Pain or tenderness in the abdomen
- Deep brown or orange urine
- Eye irritation (blood shot or dry eyes)
- Dry mouth
- Bruises appearing easily on the skin
- Symptoms associated with the flu (fatigue, fever, sore throat, headache, cough, aches, and pains)
- Joint pain
- Numbness or burning sensation
- Discolored stools (pale in color)
- Muscle weakness
Certain symptoms could indicate a life-threating condition. Accompanying symptoms that should receive immediate medical attention include:
- Blood in vomit, urine, or stools
- Falling in and out of consciousness, confusion, or inability to maintain attention
- Tightness, pain, or pressure in the chest area
- Irregular heart rate or heart palpitations
- The skin becomes cold or clammy
- Fevers over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- The skin becoming hot and dry, or moist and hot, while falling in and out of consciousness
- Changes in breathing, or difficulties within the respiratory system
- Sever headaches
- Swelling of the lips, mouth, throat or tongue
Types of infectious causes skin color changes are:
- Bacterial skin infections
- Yeast infection of the skin
- Viral infections
Allergic causes of sink color changes:
- Atopic dermatitis
- Contact with irritants like poison ivy and oak
- Drug reaction
Autoimmune and inflammatory causes:
- Discoid lupus
- Erythema multiforme
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematous
- Dysfunction in the adrenal gland
- Radiation or chemotherapy
- Toxic or poisons substance exposure
- Extreme heat
- Tumor growth
Medication that may cause skin color changes include:
In conclusion reasons for changes in skin color can range from mild skin irritations to warnings of life threatening situations. Any changes in skin color no matter how small should be observed closely for spreading. Do not wait for a small spot to grow until it takes over a portion of the body before having the situation diagnosed. With changes in skin color it is better to err on the side of caution. For further information I found this site excellent: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/skinpigmentationdisorders.html
Tanning bed technology is constantly changing and evolving. New beds and components come out regularly. Some people even have their own personal beds, but due to restrictions in space or cost, choose to go tan at a salon, which are plentiful. Tanning salons can be seen on almost every block these days, with most strip malls housing one. The price of beds can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the quality of the bed. It is clear that the practice of tanning in a bed is not going away, so it is safe to say that beds will only continue to get better over time. As beds continue to change, people often wonder what will come next in terms of this technology.
Why Do People Tan?
First and foremost, it is important to understand the mindset of a person who chooses to lay in a tanning bed. People who choose to tan are doing so mainly for cosmetic purposes, although this is not the only reason. There are many reasons why one may choose to lay in a tanning bed, some of which may include:
- They do not have time to lay in the sun
- They live in an area where tanning outdoors isn’t always an option
- It provides a more even tan
Pursuant to these ideas, it is safe to say that tanning beds solve all of the above problems in an efficient manner. Tanning salons are generally membership based businesses because of the demand they generate and the type of business they cultivate. People don’t just go tan one day and that is the end of it. Many people tan every day of the week, but most at least go a few times a week. Most communities have at least one tanning salon because demand has gotten so high over the years to where tanning is no longer seen as a fad or trend, but rather as a part of life, no different than going to the gym or shaving. As more people begin to join the tanning community, people will continually seek newer and better ways to get tan.
What Goes into a Tanning Bed?
A person can tan for a lifetime without ever knowing what is actually going on inside the bed they use so much. Basic tanning bed technology is surprisingly simple, it’s function provided by a handful of key components. Essentially, a tanning bed uses lamps to cause a person to tan, much in the fashion that they would by spending periods of time in the sun. The bulbs in a bed emit ultraviolet radiation, which cause a person to develop a tan. These lamps and the bulbs within can vary in intensity and number based on the particular bed in question. A bed with fewer bulbs will tan a person less efficiently than one with more bulbs, all other things being equal. There are different types of bulbs as well, each of them generating a specific type of radiation. The core concepts remain the same, however. Another important part of a bed is the ballast. The ballasts in a tanning bed send the power to the bulbs. So a bulb will only generate as much power as a ballast is able to provide it. This is to say that a 140 watt bulb will only provide 70 watts if the ballasts are only 70 watt ballasts. A person lies on a special acrylic surface while in the bed. This protects them from the heat and the bulbs while allowing the waves to pass through and provide them with a tan. This is why this must be a particular material and not just standard Plexiglas, which would block the transmission of the waves. This material must also be cleaned in a specific manner so as not to damage it and so as not to interfere with the transmission of the appropriate ultra violet wave lengths.
People tan for a myriad of reasons, and no matter what those reasons are, one thing is for sure: tanning is here to stay. More and more people are tanning everyday, and they want to be able to do so in the most efficient way possible. That is why people developed the tanning bed in the first place. Tanning bed technology, while eloquent, is remarkably simple. A few key components go into replicating something only formerly provided by nature, aka a suntan. Due to the widespread use and rapid growth of tanning, it stands to reason that new tanning bed technology is just on the horizon, leading to better, more efficient means of tanning.
The golden bronze tanned skin that was so popular in the 1970’s is back in style and thriving. For those people who desire to have a tan body and have the time, lying in the sun to get their tan is a great choice. However, many people do not have the luxury of time to spend just laying around. These are the patrons of tanning salons and spas. However, with the rise of health concerns, the state of the economy, and social pressure, how will the future of the tanning salon business fare?
Having a tan body was not always the socially acceptable “look”. In the early days of history, if a person was tan it meant that they were of common working people. Only the workers who slaved in the gardens and fields were exposed to the sun. Royalty and wealthy people were recognized because of their milky white skin. It was their desire to stay indoors or under umbrellas to avoid the sun’s rays. Over the course of time and fast-forward to the late 70’s and there you will see a dramatic increase in the desire to have the golden bronze skin of the outside worker. Sexy models on beaches and in the entertainment industry helped to change the views of the rich and famous among the American people. Suddenly everyone wanted to be tan. However, not everyone is wealthy enough to be able to chase the sun all year, therefore sun seekers have turned to the indoor option of tanning without the sun.
When it comes to the type of tanning that is available to the consumer, there are different types of tanning methods such as UV tanning booths, tanning beds, spray-on tanning, airbrush tanning, and body contour tanning. When it comes to tanning booths and beds, the procedure is quite straight forward and simple.
For a UV tanning booth procedure, the client visits the facility at their appointed time and enters a small room in which they undress to their desired level, and the technician turns on the exposure timer for the customer. Each session is set for only a few minutes at a time to begin with, and then gradually increases as the number of visits increase. After the desired tan is achieved, it is just a matter of maintenance to keep that golden color all year long.
When using a tanning bed, the timing aspect and UV exposure is the same as a booth, however, in a tanning bed, the client is laying flat inside of a cocoon type machine that “sandwiches” the body between the UV lights. This procedure is also timed and regulated. Each person is required to wear protective eye gear and may or may not wear clothing.
Spray-on tans are applied either by entering a spray booth or by hand by the technician. The spray booth offers the tanner a full body all over even tan. When a technician applies the spray-on tan by hand, they control the amount of spray that is being delivered, and they can give the client a tan that has realistic shading aspects.
In 2014, the tanning industry showed three billion dollar revenue with an annual growth rate of 3.2% through the end of the year. IBIS World reports that there are 9,449 businesses in the tanning industry, which employ 60,498 people. These numbers are expected to rise in the future, making this a very lucrative business. Without having any corporations dominating this niche, the small business owner is able to run their own salons either outright or within a franchise chain. Adding targeted industry products and offering additional services will increase the bottom line of this service.
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The American Academy of Dermatology has estimated that 30 million Americans indulge in the services of a tanning salon or spa each year, and the number continues to grow as incomes begin to show evidence of a rise in disposable income and consumer spending on these types of luxury items. The predictions for the next five years are favorable in part because of the diversity that the salons and spas are showing to their customers. This paired with the limited amount of time that it takes to actually have a procedure done, will prove to be the driving factor for the success of this industry.
When it comes to achieving that sexy golden bronze skin that so many adore, a tanning salon is a great choice. With innovations in safer tanning methods, strict guidelines, alternate services, and customer demand point to the success of tanning salons both today and in the future. Visiting your local tanning salon will not only support local small business, but also it will have you looking like you live at the beach all year round.