A MUM-OF-SIX has revealed how she tans on sunbeds for 25 minutes a day – and says it makes her look 15 years younger.
Maggie Singh-Smoczkiewicz, 49, is originally from Poland and has lived in Bradford, West Yorks., for 20 years.
She has run her own tanning salon, LA Tan, for three years. She took it over after working there for seven years.
Maggie said: “I think I look fabulous for my age. I am 50 next birthday but I easily pass for 35.
“This is not bad for a mum-of-six who is run ragged and works all hours.
“I think this is partly to do with having good genes, my mum is in her 70s and looks in her 50s, but also partly due to my tanning.
“I love nothing more than laying under the sunbed for a 25-minute session surrounded by the warmth and smell of the UV lights.
“For that time, I imagine I’m laid out on a white beach by the Indian Ocean with my hand trailing in the sand and the sea lapping at my toes and the warm sun bathing my face. It is pure bliss and relaxation."
Maggie continued: “When I’m feeling down or stressed, which, as a mum with six kids aged between five and 24, is most days, I get under the tubes and let them wash away all my worries.
“I feel lucky that I have this form of release when things get me down, not everybody has that.
“The sunbed is like a drug to me. I can’t get enough of it. I think, for me, it is good for my health and wellbeing.
“I have suffered with depression in my life so the way I see it, this is better for me than suffering, this is better than being down and unhappy.
“I have seen so much in my life – the end of my first marriage in Poland, my father committed suicide after tours in Afghanistan and my brother died of a stomach ulcer – that having the sunbed is a form of release for me and any possible health problems from it are the least of my worries.
The sunbed is like a drug to me. I can’t get enough of it… for me, it is good for my health and wellbeing
“I read a report from an Australian doctor who said skin cancer is caused by burning of the skin – and I’ve never actually burned on the sunbed, so I don’t worry about that.
“Most days I am laid out naked under the tubes for 25 minutes at a time, which is far too long for most customers – who will generally be on for 12 minutes, with new customers on for three – but I am different because I own the salon and I have built up a tolerance over the years."
Mum Maggie was just a teen when she first started using sunbeds regularly and admits she wanted to work at a salon for the chance to use the sunbeds free of charge.
She said: “I first started using sunbeds at 16-years-old. I am a pale white colour, not too pasty, but still white enough to want to be darker.
“I realised straight away I looked and felt better, so I have kept up to that ever since.
“I started working at the salon in 2011, the plan being that I might get free sunbeds working at a salon. When the owner left, I took it over.
“A tan has so many benefits because it makes you look slimmer – but sunbeds also makes you feel better.
“Everyone knows about the benefits of Vitamin D, so many people in the UK are poorly through Vitamin D deficiency, and I have that on tap here.
“The sunbed has the added benefit that it makes me a glorious deep brown colour, which I think adds to my youthful glow and complexion.
“It makes me feel a million dollars. I get so many compliments from my friends and customers who think my sun-kissed look is great.
A part of me doesn’t think I am dark enough, so I keep going on to try to look darker
“I would say I am a milk chocolate colour now. I get jealous of my British Asian husband as he goes much darker than me in the sun.
“A part of me, though, doesn’t think I am dark enough, so I keep going on to try to look darker.
“Everybody equates having a healthy tan to being full of life and energy. I think me looking like that also makes me feel like that. It makes me like my reflection.
“I love to be able to wear white and bright colours, which I wouldn’t do without a tan, and I like to get my nice brown legs out, it makes me look and feel sexy.
“Some experts say that the sunbed is bad for your skin, that it ages you and removes the elasticity, but I have seen no evidence of that at all – completely the opposite.
“Looking slim, being relaxed and happy – all side effects of me using the sunbeds – is part of me staying youthful-looking.
“When I wasn’t able to tan throughout my pregnancies I actually felt depressed.
“When coronavirus hit I was devastated, I thought I was going to lose my livelihood. I built up so much anxiety that I thought I was going to catch the virus and die.
My View: Carol Cooper, Sun Doctor
Let’s be clear about sunbeds. It’s not just ‘some’ experts that say they’re bad for your skin. It’s almost all of them.
All three common skin cancers are linked with excess UV rays. And there’s overwhelming evidence that, compared with natural sunlight, sunbeds are far more likely to cause skin cancer.
Actually, anyone who’s ever used a sunbed is at least 20% more likely to develop malignant melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer.
UV rays damage the DNA in skin cells, so they’re more likely to mutate into cancer. You don’t even have to burn for it to happen.
It’s often people with sensitive skin – who are pale and don’t tan well –– who most want to avoid looking pasty.
Maggie’s early start on sunbeds didn’t do her any favours because young people have the most vulnerable skin. Research shows that those who begin using sunbeds any time before the age of 35 are the most likely to develop skin cancer from their tanning habit.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to become reliant on using a sunbed.
“But getting back into the shop, when we re-opened, being back with my customers in the shop and being in my environment made me calm down again.
“We have good sunbeds here, we use the lay down sunbeds Ergoline 800 Excellence with 51 body lamps, 4 520W Ultra facial tanners and additional 13 25W shoulder and neck tanners, which are really popular.
“We have people queueing at our salon to use them.
“I’m also a great advert for my own shop. I will often get compliments on how good I look and how good my tan is, so I tell them where I work.
“It is not just the sunbeds I love, I love the sun too. Love it.
“When the sun is shining we love nothing better than packing up for the day and heading to Blackpool where I will lay out in the sun all day.
“I love the beach and I love soaking up those rays. My mum is the same, we love those UV rays in any shape or form and if, living in Bradford means I have to go on a sunbed to get them then that’s what I will do.”
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