Must be 18 to tan in California: Should there be an age limit?

California has set the highest age limit in the land for teenagers to tan: They must be 18 by Jan. 1 to use a tanning bed in the state.

From The Associated Press:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California girls who dream about the sun-kissed skin glorified in song by Katy Perry will have to wait until they turn 18 before they can get the effect from tanning beds under a new first-in-the-nation law.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he had signed into law a bill that prevents children under 18 from using the popular tanning method. The law takes effect Jan. 1.

Although Texas has banned the use of tanning beds for children under 16, SB746 bill makes California the first state to set a higher age limit. Thirty other states also have some age restrictions on the use, said the bill’s author, state Sen. Ted Lieu.

Under current law, children 14 and under in California already cannot use the beds, but those ages 15 to 17 can do so with permission from their parents. Illinois, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island have considered an age limit similar to California’s, but have yet to enact them, said the Democrat from Torrance, Calif.

The ban will hurt businesses, many of them owned by women, said the Indoor Tanning Association. About 5 percent to 10 percent of its members’ customers are under 18, the industry group noted.

The organization said tanning salons already are regulated by the state Department of Consumer Affairs and the federal Food and Drug Administration — regulations it called the most stringent in the nation.

But Lieu and other ban supporters said the higher age limit is needed because skin damage caused by the type of radiation used in tanning beds often leads to melanoma, which is skin cancer that can be fatal. Lieu said early tanning by children can increase the risk.

They also say that avid tanning is particularly popular in the state, especially in affluent areas of Southern California. Lieu pointed out there are more tanning salons in Los Angeles County than Starbucks coffee shops or McDonald’s fast food restaurants.

“Girls in affluent California communities especially are surrounded by the message that being tanned all year round is cool,” Christina Clarke, of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, said in a recent statement supporting Lieu’s bill. “Pop music star Katy Perry is even singing about it.”

Here is the most interesting part of the story:

“Lieu also cited a recent Stanford Cancer Institute-backed study that showed higher melanoma rates among girls and young women in areas of higher income.”

“Supporters said better education was also needed to counter practices that can lead to skin damage and melanoma. The measure was sponsored by the California Society of Dermatology and Dermatological Surgery and the AIM at Melanoma Foundation, and backed by other medical organizations and health insurers.”

“Lieu, in a statement praising Brown’s decision, called skin cancer “a rising epidemic and the leading cause of cancer death for women between 25 and 29.”

I am really surprised that skin cancer leads in cancer deaths among twenty-somethings. I am also surprised that girls are still going to tanning beds. It seemed like spray tans had really caught on. (While sick with the flu I watched a couple of episodes of “Jersey Shore.” I sat mouth agape as one of the girls touched up Snooki’s spray tan in between her legs. She spread eagle like she was going to be searched in a prison. It was gross. That’s a real girlfriend!)

I have never “tanned” and will never tan. I am increasingly worried about my skin now living in Arizona. It is sunny constantly! It never rains and so dry all the time.  I just ran out of my 30 SPF Eucerin Everyday Protection face cream and I am stressed about getting some more quickly!

My brother used to go right up the street to tan when we were growing up. I think he even got a job there at one point – I think jut for the discount.

Is your teen going to tanning booths? Do you think age limits are appropriate? Do you worry about your teen getting skin cancer? Are you more comfortable with the spray tans?

39 comments Add your comment


October 10th, 2011
1:40 am

No tans, period. Spray tans are gross and throwing yourself in a tanning “bed” in order to bake yourself to a crackly crunch ranks right up there with smoking and shooting heroin as self-mutilation, as far as I’m concerned.

I just don’t get why being “tanned” (especially when most of them are soooo fake) is such a great thing? No my daughter NEVER went to a tanning booth — we spend enough money at the dermatologist as it is for a chronic skin issue, we don’t need to add self-mutilation to the mix. I told her that if she chose to indulge in a tanning bed, she was on her own for her dermatologist and prescription fees — there was no way in hell I was going to spend all that money just to have her go out and screw it up.


October 10th, 2011
4:20 am

No tanning beds here. I do like to sit out in the sun and get it the old fashioned way, with sunscreen. I LOVE to sit at the beach, under an umbrella, with a good book but that will not be happening any time soon…haha!


October 10th, 2011
4:29 am

Are these kids all of a sudden bright enough to make the decision @18? They can drive a car, hold a job, pay taxes, get an abortion (without parental knowledge), go to jail, but they cant lay in a tanning bed? Who’s responsible if they show a fake ID?

When I was a teenager, I used to grease up with Afro-sheen to increase my tan. It’s a punch line now, but really, what’s the difference? If they’re that horrible, then make them illegal for everyone.


October 10th, 2011
8:16 am

Never understood the appeal of shake and bake fake tans to begin with, and especially in California where sun is abundant in the southern half of the state.


October 10th, 2011
8:29 am

What if they are 19 or 20? Are they still allowed to “tan?” (Do you mean must be 18 or must be at least 18?)

I would do my best to commit to an asylum any child of mine who used a tanning bed (Ie cancer bed)! Luckily they celebrate their Scotch-Irish heritage.


October 10th, 2011
8:44 am

Tanning beds are stupid. Why would anyone want to do something to themselves that they KNOW causes cancer. It’s not like its a maybe, or something. Tanning beds have been shown to increase your risk of cancer. Personally, I think natural looking skin is far prettier. I several friends who tan and several who stay out of the sun altogether. The ladies with the porcelain skin are FAR more stunning than the ones who have been tanning for years, especially now that we are in our late 30s.


October 10th, 2011
8:45 am

Me, too, motherjanegoose. Tanning the old fashioned way … at the beach in the sun, smoking a cigarette, drinking a whiskey over ice in a Tervis Tumbler, reading a literary novel, and not paying any attention to my kids playing in the rip currents. Heaven.

Born with a tan.

October 10th, 2011
9:00 am

I’m lucky I was born with a tan.


October 10th, 2011
9:00 am

Because men typically like it when mature older ladies look like rubberized orange alligators.

/Just Saying


October 10th, 2011
9:01 am

So we can ban minors from using a tanning bed, but they can walk into Planned Parenthood and get an abortion without the parents ever being notified. What a great country!


October 10th, 2011
9:08 am

Teens engage in risk every day – taking a shower, swimming, driving cars, playing football or hockey or any other contact sport, mountain biking, boating, skiing, some get tattoos or ear piercings – everything in life comes with risk.
Next on the list would be eating too much – or too little – exercising the wrong way, or too little.

If you let committees debate which activity is worth and government decide what is allowed – soon very little will left to individuals. It will be mandated or prohibited.

Look at California as a scary example of government gone bad.


October 10th, 2011
9:10 am

Stop liking what I don’t like!


October 10th, 2011
9:17 am

I used tanning beds when I was a teenager because I had horrible acne. Not enough for me to get brown – just enough to help the acne and make me feel better about myself. I knew and accepted the risks.

Hey, motherjane...

October 10th, 2011
9:19 am

…you ae talking about tanning, aren’t you – “I do like to sit out in the sun and get it the old fashioned way”…


October 10th, 2011
9:20 am

Never been in one, never will….I don’t care if I tan or not..It’s not a high priority with me…..


October 10th, 2011
9:23 am

Now that my kids are adults, going to the beach is much better… we can relax. I will admit that it is too much like work when you watch your children in the water, blow up the water wings, slather sunscreen, dispense drinks and snacks etc.

I had a meeting in Florida last month, and my husband came down to join me. We had a full day of sitting under the umbrella at the beach. Everything was really great until a woman in front of us showed up in a thong swimsuit and her body was not a **thong type of body** for a swimsuit. We got a full view and it was not pretty. Kinda ruined the day for us. Cellulite and thongs do not mix IMHO.


October 10th, 2011
9:25 am

Yes, tanning…or I can work in the yard and get a tan the old fashioned way…


October 10th, 2011
9:30 am

LOL.. over 20 years ago, my husband was oogling the swimwear at the beach. I was razzing him for shopping the merchandise and then a seagull pooped right on me. Not fair but we both got a laugh out of it! The thong was not one to oogle ( is that spelled right?) Have a good day all!


October 10th, 2011
9:30 am

We use sunscreen religiously, so tanning is not something that we do nor am I interested in. However, at the same time I am not sure it’s something that should be regulated by the government. I think the age they had set at 14 and under requiring parent’s permission was regulation enough.

@Duane ~ that is NOT true. Now please go to the political blog with that propaganda.

Sk8ing Momma

October 10th, 2011
10:02 am

Thankfully, we’re born with tans and do not need to get them artificially. :) (Even if we weren’t, I’d NEVER give permission for my children to tan.)

In any event, this is appropriate governmental intervention/regulation, IMO, given the harmful effects of tanning beds. The state has a compelling interest in protecting minors in this instance. Let adults, i.e. those 18yo and over, decide for themselves they want to engage in such activity.


October 10th, 2011
10:12 am

Jeff – AFRO SHEEN!?!?!? BOLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!! I’m glad I’m on mute on my work phone call because I did bust out laughing. Thank you.

I’m born with a tan too but I do like to get browner in the summer. I do covet darker skin but I also hate being outside in the heat for too long so I stay my “regular” brown. :-) Regular tanning, especially in tanning beds, makes skin crackly and you end up looking old and wrinkly too early. Not cute. And fake tans usually look orange which is definitely not a good look. Being natural-looking tanned in the summer looks like “oh, he’s been outside enjoying himself.” Being fake baked looks like “ewww…she’s going to look 40 by the time she turns 22″


October 10th, 2011
10:28 am

I have known two young mothers, one age 30 and the other 31, who died of skin cancer. Both of the cancers were discovered and treated in their twenties but returned and spread.

i tried to tan as a teen, but ended up burning and used a tanning bed for a short time. I worry about skin cancer now. I use sun screen religiously now and insist that my children do to.

I am generally against government interference and am fine with adults who wish to take the risk. I would support a ban for kids. I view it the same way I view cigarettes and alcohol. Adults are free to choose for themselves, but it is our job to protect children.


October 10th, 2011
10:34 am

They already had a law in California (same as in almost every state) that you needed parent’s written permission in order to tan if you were under 18! This is so stupid. I agree with Thomas, this law is government gone bad. I just checked on, and found this list of skin cancer estimated deaths:, which shows Melanoma as having one of the lowest death tolls out of all common cancers. Almost 6 times more die from colon / rectal cancer, which according to has risk factors for young people which includes a diet heavy in red meats… so does this mean that banning red meat consumption is next? And what exactly will happen to kids with eczema and acne who benefit from UV light exposure? They’ll go out in the sun more and burn. At least in a tanning salon the amount of uv exposure is controlled and limited… I tan indoors and limit myself to 6-8 minutes. Ever heard of somebody doing that outside? I’m not a member of the tea party but seeing government intervention like this just makes me so mad… there’s so many more positive things they could be doing with their time, money and resources, banning my kids from using indoor tanning shouldn’t be one of them!


October 10th, 2011
11:50 am

Anybody remember sun lamps? I think they were prevalent in the 70’s. My brother used one on the advice of the dermatologist to clear up his skin. They gave a nasty burn if they weren’t used very carefully.

I’m a sun lover, I can’t deny it. My kids all lifeguard, and are very good about using sunscreen. They tan naturally, so tanning beds were never an issue here.


October 10th, 2011
12:14 pm

I went to a tanning bed one week in March prior to a cruise we were going on because I had that winter pale and didn’t want to burn on the trip. Although I’m not too guilty of using the tanning beds, I have exposed my skin to way too much sun over the years. In the late 70’s and 80’s, there wasn’t as much knowledge for the dangers as there is today and I use to lay by the pool for hours on end for many days of the summer until I was a deep golden brown color. Now, I regret all those days I sweated for those tans as I now have to slap a lot of expensive lotions on my body to combat all the damages that I caused myself. Fortunately, my children have listened to my warnings and neither of them tan. I just wish I had known then how bad it really was for me.


October 10th, 2011
1:16 pm

Did you all know that sunscreen and birth control pills also causes skin cancer? Enjoy whatever you want, life is short.

[...] Story brought to you by Sacramento CA – Bing News [...]


October 10th, 2011
2:00 pm

I’ve never understood the need to tan, but then again I’m black so I already have one. It just seems like this is a no-brainer. Why put your kid at risk unnecessarily? The things people are willing to put their bodies through in the name of beauty just amazes me.


October 10th, 2011
2:32 pm

Yes RJ…shaving and waxing…to name a few…lol.

I get my eyebrows waxed, when I get a manicure, and have NO hair on my lip. This has been verified by my sister and sister in law ( whom I have mentioned it to) . The ladies always ask me,
” do you want a leep wax?” Really…what are you going to take off and is the hair going to come in thicker from now on?

In case anyone wants to take a crack…maybe some of my friends here will confirm that I do not have a hairy lip…maybe not. The little kids would ask me for sure, as they ask all sorts of hillarious questions. So far, none have asked!


October 10th, 2011
2:36 pm

I admit to using tanning beds in my early 20s. Then I decided it was way too much trouble for me and I think I look better pale, anyway. BUT, now that iRun a lot and train for marathons and ultras…I’m outside a lot. And sunscreen just doesn’t hold up during a 3-6 hour training run. I put it on, but it’s gone in no time flat.

So I get a weird runner’s tan every year.

I do try to shield my face, using hats and sunglasses, etc, but it’s not the best coverage.

As for this reg…if the law was already about having to get parental permission first then I think it’s a dumb ban. It would be better to put that money into a media campaign to raise awareness. At least so the parents might think twice before giving their authorization.


October 10th, 2011
2:51 pm

MJG – I always have to get my “leep wax” when I get my eyebrow wax. I had one lady to frown at me and say “ooh…too much…that’s ugly”. LOL! I wanted to clock her upside the head but it was pretty terrible! LOL

I wouldn’t be bothered by the ban if 1) a ban wasn’t already in place (Should have gotten it right in the first place) and 2) there weren’t things that were being neglected while they were discussing this foolishness. Maybe it’s not foolishness in California… I hope parents abide by it and don’t cause too much of a stink because it would be worse to spend more time on this than has already been wasted.


October 10th, 2011
3:00 pm

@ Denise…my girls always hand me the mirror to see if my eyebrows look o.k. Really? Can they put the hair back if it is wrong? I always laugh and tell them I am not looking. I will be surprised. I have gone to the same salon for 5 years or so. Hope all is well in your world…. we are getting much needed rain…are you?

tan = sexy

October 10th, 2011
3:58 pm

There are a lot of people that use tannin beds and you would never know. They just know how to use them. I hit one 3 times a week for 7 minutes. Tan = young and vibrant = attractive. But go ahead and tell yourself you look awesome being pasty. go ahead and tell yourself tanning bed users are all getting cancer. I bet you dont exercise either. I bet you say all those runners are killing their knees and only you are wisely sitting on the sideline. I guess ignorance is bliss. I am laughing at you and everyoe else that uses a tanning bed intelligently. But heck, I love to run too. LMFAO


October 10th, 2011
4:29 pm

Of course tanning beds should be banned for children under 18. They are children after all, and as a society we have assumed the right to decide what is best for them until they reach teh age of majority. But where’s the line here? Which kinds of unhealthy behavior should we regulate — removing the choice of parents to allow their kids to engage in it — and which kinds of behavior will be OK, so long as the parents say it’s OK. Take the example of McDonald’s. Surely, eating double cheeseburgers is about as unhealthy as tanning beds. Do we outlaw McDonald’s for kids under 18? No. So, what’s the difference between tanning beds and McDonald’s? Well, the cynic in me smells a lobbyist somewhere in this equation. I’ll bet McDonald’s has bigger lobbying coffers than the California tanning industry. Just guessing…And for anyone who doubts just how unhealthy those cheesburgers are, below are sources:



October 10th, 2011
4:30 pm

I tan every year for a month leading up to our annual Caribbean vacation. I am very fair skinned, and less than one hour in the sun would FRY me, even with repeated sunscreen if I did not get a “base tan”. Even after tanning for a month, where I get reddish-brown (I never get golden brown and thankfully NOT orange), if I were to use only 15 spf the first few days, I would still burn in less than an hour.

That said…I am an adult. My kids will NOT be going to a tanning bed. I see a ton of fake & baked to the extreme girls around our town. A little color is attractive, but over the top definitely fake is not. If my daughters want some tanning, it will be done on our boat throughout the summer, with me acting as the sunscreen Nazi! LOL They hate me for it, but skin cancer runs in our family, and they are just as pasty as me typically!


October 10th, 2011
7:27 pm

I love that pasty, ghostly look myself!
Love, Casper


October 10th, 2011
8:02 pm

“The ban will hurt businesses, many of them owned by women”

Um, why does this matter?


October 10th, 2011
9:09 pm

@tan = sexy, I exercise regularly and am in reasonably good shape; I also am in a high-risk group for melanoma (blonde, blye-eyed) and you can make fun of me all you want but I refuse to have ugly leathery skin and die at an early age of skin cancer. Both my grandparents had it too. I LOVE my paleness and you know what? Over 50 and STILL not a single wrinkle. Hope you will be able to say that but, hmmm, I doubt it

Once Again

October 11th, 2011
1:03 pm

And yet this same jackass governor (hey, I have a right, he was my governor way back in the 80s too) signed a bill allowing a child as young as 12 to consent to being injected with the dangerous and deadly Gardasil vaccine (the one that has gotten Perry in so much trouble). I guess we know whose pockets this democrat is in. Clearly he doesn’t care about the safety of children. Just more political grandstanding.