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Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Volume 54, n° 6
pages 1060-1066 (juin 2006)
Doi : 10.1016/j.jaad.2006.01.014

Use of artificial tanning products among young adults

Katie Brooks, MPH a, Daniel Brooks, ScD, MPH b, Zeina Dajani, BS c, Susan M. Swetter, MD d, Erin Powers e, Sherry Pagoto, PhD f, Alan C. Geller, MPH, RN a, b,
a From the Department of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine 
b Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health 
c Boston University School of Medicine 
d Department of Dermatology, Stanford University Medical Center and Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto Health Care System 
e St. Louis University 
f University of Massachusetts Medical School 

Reprint requests: Alan C. Geller, MPH, RN, Boston University School of Medicine, Department of Dermatology, 720 Harrison Ave, DOB 801A, Boston, MA 02118.

Boston, Massachusetts; Stanford, California; and St. Louis, Missouri


Neither the prevalence of sunless tanner use nor its impact on sunburning and tanning bed use has been evaluated in the United States.


We surveyed young adults in greater Boston to measure use of artificial tanning products, as well as recent history of sunburns and tanning bed use.


In July 2004, 448 individuals 18 to 30 years of age completed a brief questionnaire at universities, shopping venues, and parks.


Twenty-two percent of respondents used sunless tanning lotions in the preceding 12 months, and another 22% had not used them but would consider doing so in the coming year. Sunless tanning users were more likely to be female, younger, and more likely to report being severe burners. Both users and potential users were more likely to have sunburned during the summer and to have used tanning beds than those who neither used nor intended to use sunless tanning lotions, even after controlling for skin type.


The study was based on a non-randomly selected sample in one city and was cross-sectional in nature.


Our study raises the possibility that sunless tanning products do not decrease rates of sunburning or use of tanning beds. While safe alternatives to ultraviolet exposure are desirable, the potential risks of widely endorsing artificial tanning products must be considered.

The full text of this article is available in PDF format.

 Funding sources: None.
Conflict of interest: None identified.

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