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Kim Kardashian’s Viral TikTok Reactivates Tanning Bed Legislation

Photo: David Becker/Getty Images/Fontainebleau Las Vegas.
Welcome to Sun Blocked, Refinery29’s global call to action to wake up to the serious dangers of tanning. No lectures or shaming, we promise. Instead, our goal is to arm you with the facts you need to protect your skin to the best of your ability, because there’s no such thing as safe sun.
We often praise Kim Kardashian for her candidness. She's shared relatable stories about her adult acne and psoriasis, and that she'd consider eating poop every single day if it meant she'd look younger. Sometimes, however, we have to push back against Kardashian's public opinions, especially when what she says or promotes potentially dangerous activity. In this case, we're talking about Kardashian's tanning habits.
In a recent TikTok, Kardashian posted an office tour, showing her custom Rick Owens designed SKKN office. In the video, announcing the launch of the new $22 SKKN lip liners, Kardashian walks us through her HQ, showing off her wall of magazine covers, product shrine, the 3D model of her brain, and her tanning bed. The reality star and skincare founder gets in the tanning bed with her goggles and says, "I'm Kim Kardashian, of course I have a tanning bed — and a red-light bed — in my office."
Of course, this left many of us in the beauty industry slack jawed. In the comments section, pushback ensued. "In 2024, does she have an ashtray next to it?," wrote one, comparing the dangers of using tanning beds to smoking cigarettes. "Her promoting this is so messed up," wrote another. This casual promotion of tanning beds is especially strange as her sister Khloé was diagnosed with melanoma last year, and through treatment she encouraged fans and followers to be careful with their skin.
Allure published an article condemning Kardashian's TikTok video for normalizing tanning beds. She responded to the article explaining that the tanning bed is for her psoriasis. "I have psoriasis and [the tanning bed] really helps when it's bad," Kim posted to X. "But I don't use it too often."

Why are tanning beds so bad?

We know tanning beds are dangerous. Just how bad are they? Research published by the Skin Cancer Foundation tells us that just one indoor tanning session before the age of 35 is reported to increase your chance of melanoma skin cancer by a staggering 75%. Studies show even if your skin type is not fair, tanning causes DNA injury which can lead to skin cancer and premature aging — something Kardashian says she'll literally eat feces to avoid. Ironic.

One indoor tanning session before the age of 35 is reported to increase your chance of melanoma skin cancer by a staggering 75%.

The use of tanning beds in 2024 is problematic, as is the tone-deaf way that Kardashian is promoting it. Our recent reporting on the dangers of tanning beds explores a 2023 survey by the American Academy of Dermatology finding that 40% of Gen Z adults are unaware of tanning risks while 59% believe tanning myths, such as tanning is healthy and that getting a 'base tan' will prevent sunburn. We know that Gen Z makes up the biggest age group on TikTok (about 45% of users), which makes this type of content especially dangerous. Kardashian is speaking to an immature and impressionable audience who might understand this video to mean that celebrities are using tanning beds (which they're not), so they're probably fine (which they're not).

Can tanning beds help with psoriasis?

A lot of the commenters and loyalists called out Kardashian's psoriasis, noting that maybe she uses a tanning bed to help with her psoriasis. But tanning does not improve skin conditions, plain and simple. "Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the skin, and while exposure to sunlight can help relieve symptoms, it is not a cure for the condition," Dr. Ifeoma Ejikeme, medical consultant and skin expert tells Refinery29.
Some types of phototherapy, a medical treatment using lightwaves, may be used to treat psoriasis, but this approach is regulated and only used under medical supervision. Short of it: Tanning is not an effective or approved treatment for psoriasis or any type of skin condition for that matter, the risks are simply too high.

When will tanning beds be illegal?

This news goes well beyond the Kardashian influence of it all. There's actually active US legislation moving to make tanning beds illegal for minors. With our partnership with the Skin Cancer Foundation, Refinery29 has already put out a petition to finalize this movement.
It's been a long time coming. Back in December of 2015, the FDA proposed a rule that would ban minors from using tanning beds. Still, 9 years later and we don't have a final ruling. Meanwhile, each year the cases of skin cancer continue to rise and US teens and young adults continue to use tanning beds. The good news is that this current legislation is moving, it's in the final rule stage, anticipated to be finalized in March of this year. The Foundation and R29 are also reaching out to members of Congress to see if they can help us put pressure on the FDA to act. This movement is not to shame Kim — she's an adult and can make her own choices — but to protect the lives of minors who are currently at an unnecessarily increased risk for developing skin cancer until we ban tanning beds.
If you want to help, we're still collecting signatures, so please consider joining the over 7,500 people who have already signed our petition.
Refinery29 reached out to Kardashian for comment and did not hear back.

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