Feb. 20, 2013 at 7:04 AM ET
By Kiera Aaron, Prevention
Can your reality TV habit turn you into a tanning bed addict? Sounds weird, but it just might be true, according to new research that blames Snooki and company for the tanning habits of some American women.
When researchers at Brooklyn College surveyed more than 600 young adults, they found that 13 percent of those who watched "beauty reality shows," like America's Next Top Model and Toddlers & Tiaras, also used tanning beds. In contrast, only 4 percent of non-watchers went tanning.
"We're not sure if reality TV encourages tanning, or if people who tan also gravitate to these shows in the first place," says study author Joshua Fogel, a professor of behavioral sciences at Brooklyn College.
You probably already know that indoor tanning is accompanied by serious health risks: According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the ultraviolet light from a tanning bed can cause cancer. They also cause wrinkles.
Fortunately, you can brighten your skin without upping your risk of cancer. Gels and creams that turn the skin a golden tan color are safe and effective. One pick: Xen-Tan Luminous Gold Gel ($35; neimanmarcus.com). It'll give you a light tan and a subtle shimmer--without that icky tanning cream smell or the Big C.
Oh, and while we're doling out advice? It's probably a good idea to pass on Snooki-sized doses of aerosol hairspray, too.