Pennsylvania winters are beautiful, but they often don’t offer much sunshine. As such, many people seek out artificial tans to compensate. However, how you choose to tan during winter can have a detrimental impact on the health of your largest organ: your skin. Which methods are worth it? Dr. Vélez offers her expert opinion.


Contrary to popular belief, tanning beds aren’t better for you than naturally absorbing sunshine, nor are they safe while wearing a light sunscreen. Tanning bed use has been found to drastically increase your chance of developing melanoma, one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer. Just one visit to a tanning bed before the age of 35 can increase the risk of melanoma by 75%! In fact, more skin cancers can be attributed to tanning bed use than lung cancers attributed to smoking.
Additionally, tanning bed UV rays, like the sun rays, weaken collagen in the skin, causing irreversible wrinkles and accelerating skin aging.

Are tanning beds recommended? Definitely not. As the risks associated with tanning bed use become more well known, most states have now passed legislation banning tanning bed use in minors. So what options do you have to radiate a healthy summer glow, even in the middle of winter?


Self-tanners are a safe and effective way to get a glowing tan all year long. The ingredients in self-tanning lotion primarily work to tan only the dead skin cells left on the surface of your skin. Without the use of UV, you thus avoid the long-term risks associated with tanning bed use. Just be sure to follow the directions on the bottle to ensure proper application.

Dr. Vélez’s favorite drugstore self-tanners are:

  • Supergoop Healthy Glow Sunless Tan SPF 40 – Not only does this superstar provide a healthy glow, it also has built in SPF 40 for added UV protection! The best part? Dr. Vélez loves it so much that it’s stocked in-office!
  • St Tropez Self Tanning Bronzing Mousse – This ultra-hydrating formula is quick-drying, stick-free, and promises transfer-free results! It applies as a mousse as opposed to a traditional spray or lotion.
  • L’oreal Sublime Luminous Bronzer – An affordable bronzer as opposed to tanner. Users rave over the product’s gorgeous finish for all skin tones.
  • Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer – Evens out skintone while simultaneously hydrating the skin! Users typically report achieving maximum results within 1 week of daily use.


Spray tans are also a nice way to replicate a summer glow. Just like self-tanner, product chemicals tan only dead skin cells, leaving what’s underneath looking and feeling its best for years to come.


Don’t risk the long-term health of your skin for a short-lived reward. Make your New Years Resolution to avoid tanning beds and instead seek out healthier alternatives such as self-tanners or spray tans, to achieve a healthy glow all year long!