The search for the perfect tan

Ah, summer. The perfect time for hanging out, sleeping in and getting the perfect summer sun tan. But before you slap on your bathing suit and slop on the sun tan lotion, The Eagle has some helpful sun tanning tips that will leave you bronze enough to impress your friends come fall semester.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

If your sun tanning needs are going to occur anywhere near the University, then it is important to know all the popular tanning places around campus. Aside from the main quad, many students prefer to do their tanning at a location they affectionately refer to as the "Grassy Knoll."

This "hotspot" is located on a hill between Mary Graydon Center and the SIS Annex, and is adjacent to the McKinley building. On a sunny day groups of tanners often gather there sporadically.

One of which was graduate student Theresa Rich, who was relaxing in the sun one 90-degree day earlier in the week after finishing a final.

"It just feels nice to get out in the sun, considering the rain and dismal weather we've had," Rich said, referring to the unusually rainy spring.

Rich, who was one of many tanners taking advantage of the recent change in weather, was clad in a red bikini top and gray shorts and came to the Grassy Knoll prepared with a blanket to lay on, a book to read and a bottle of water to drink.

Other popular tanning spots on campus include the grassy area in the middle of Reeves Athletic Field and just about any spot on the main quad.

INDOOR TANNING VS. OUTDOOR

For those rainy days and for those who don't want to leave their tans in the unpredictable hands of Mother Nature, the tanning salon is always a viable option.

A quick look in the phone book reveals that there are several in the local area. One of which is At The Beach Tanning located on Wisconsin Avenue in nearby Tenleytown.

"This is the safest way to tan...because it is a controlled environment," Manager Kim Fucci said, a former AU student.

Fucci said that the advantages of indoor tanning are many because it allows one to filter out the harmful ultraviolet rays that cause sunburns, leaving the user a chance to bask in a worry-free glow.

Another advantage of tanning salons is that they are faster than conventional methods, allowing a customer to get tan in as quick as 12 minutes, Fucci said.

Prices range from $5 for a single session to as much as $500 for a year of unlimited tanning, and students receive a 10 percent discount, making At The Beach Tanning a popular destination for AU students, Fucci said.

However, indoor tanning is not for everyone. Some, like senior Dave McLellan, think that tanning salons are "vain" and a "waste of time."

McLellan, who was tanning on a more traditional spot on a bench in the center of the quad, did however reluctantly admit that he tried a tanning salon once before after being enticed by a free trial offer.

"It burnt me and it was stupid," he said. "Why sit in a class tube?"

SUNLESS TANNER

And for those that like neither outdoor tanning nor indoor tanning, another option is available. Sunless tanner, a tinted lotion that temporarily gives the skin a tanned look, is available at most beauty supply shops and cosmetic counters. At the Lord & Taylor in Friendship Heights, sunless tanners feature a predominate display in the cosmetics department.

Maria Iribarren, a Clarins body products salesperson, said that most sunless tanners work in about an hour and come in a variety of gels, lotions and sprays, which last from three days to a week if applied correctly.

To make smooth sailing out of sunless tanning it is important to shower first and exfoliate your skin, said Iribarren. Other tips is to make sure you apply the tanner as evenly as possible to prevent streaking and to wait at least six hours before showering after the tanner has been applied.

Other sunless tanning secrets include using a moisturizer first, which helps the sunless tanner adhere more evenly to the skin and using gloves to make sure the tanner doesn't stain your hands and finger nails.

Different products are sold separately for your face and body and range from $20 to $30.

SUN TANNING SAFETY

Last but not least comes sun safety. Not only can too much sun cause sunburns, but also it is the leading cause of skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Bill Casswell, an ACS volunteer spokesperson, said the ACS recommends that people use a sun block with a Sun Protection Factor of 15 or higher and to reapply often.

Casswell, who is a survivor of skin cancer himself, compares recreational sun tanning to "smoking" in that you don't see the negative effects until much later.

"There is no such thing as a safe tan," said Roberta Herbst, who works for the Coalition for Skin Cancer Prevention in Maryland. "It's a sign of damage to the skin."

Casswell said that the risk factor for skin cancer depends on a person's skin type and family history, and that fair-skinned people should be more careful than those with darker skin. Also, people with large or numerous moles should be extra cautious when it comes to sun safety.

"It never hurts to be safe," said Casswell.

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle