Sunless tanning products: Beliefs and practice

Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, Georgia, studied the effects of sunless tanning products on tanning behaviors.

First, the details.

  • 415 women reported their use of sunless tanning products and UV radiation tanning methods.

And, the results.

  • 48% of participants had used sunless tanning products, 71% had tanned in the sun, 26% had used tanning beds at least once in the past year.
  • Most participants (93%) believed that tanned skin is more attractive than untanned skin.
  • 79% reported feeling better about themselves when tan.
  • Many sunless tanning product users reported decreased frequency of tanning in the sun (37%) or in tanning beds (38%) because of product use.
  • Frequent users were more likely to have decreased their UV radiation exposure.
  • Lighter complexion, frequent use of UV radiation tanning methods, feeling better about oneself when tan, and having a history of skin cancer were each associated with using sunless tanning products.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “In some women, sunless tanning product use is associated with decreased UV radiation tanning frequency, especially in women who use them repeatedly.”

The desire for tanned skin remains strong despite growing awareness of the dangers of UV radiation exposure.

The authors believe that improving the appearance of sunless tanning product tans may lead to wider acceptance and further decreases in UV radiation tanning practices.

More on the risks of tanning beds is here.

12/26/11 20:53 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.