In an effort to save our youths’ skin, the CCS reveals The hidden face of tanning salons

21 September 2011

Montreal -

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is launching a hard-hitting campaign to help prevent skin cancer: The hidden face of tanning salons. The harmful effects of UV rays are well-known, and while the CCS encourages youths to enjoy the sun with caution, it has decided to speak out against the dangers of tanning salons.

The hidden faces of tanning salons belongs to Geneviève Phénix, among others, a young woman who has survived two melanomas and who is also a former user of tanning beds. The campaign’s visual component compares her “everyday face” with her “hidden face.” The latter picture, taken with a special camera, reveals a stunning view: the real and permanent skin damage caused by UV rays that is still invisible to the naked eye. Through these photos, the CCS wants to draw youths’ attention to the flip-side of artificial tanning.

Starting at 10 AM on September 23, an event designed to “Reveal the hidden face of tanning salons” will be held at Agora de l’UQAM. During the event, youths will have an opportunity to make use of the CCS’s UV photomaton with healthcare professionals on hand. Their photos may then join Geneviève’s “hidden face” on facebook/sccfacecachee. Visitors can go to this page to test their knowledge, take in Geneviève’s testimonial, and view the UV photo gallery. Visitors can also share this page with friends and encourage them to sign a petition calling for legislation to regulate the artificial tanning industry.

Youths frequent tanning salons essentially for esthetic reasons and for immediate results. The artificial tanning industry relies heavily on the lure of “beauty” to attract young consumers: 70% of tanning bed users are women, aged mainly 16 to 29. A recent survey indicates that about 160,000 young people in Quebec, aged 15 to 29[1], visited tanning salons on average 11 times in the past year.

“I’m sorry to see that young women still often go to tanning salons in order to look prettier and healthier,” states Geneviève. “This has to change! When I was teenager, I didn’t want to look pale and pasty – but the fact is that getting into a tanning bed is like getting into your coffin. You’re playing with your life.”

To prevent this sort of situation from recurring and since regulating tanning salons will help to lower the incidence of skin cancer, the CCS has launched a petition – now available in electronic format on the National Assembly’s web site. Over 55,000 people in Quebec have already supported this civic initiative. The CCS is targeting 100,000 signatures.

The petition calls for legislation that would prohibit the sale and promotion of artificial tanning services to youths under the age of 18 and establish a registry of businesses operating in this field.

“Tanning salons recruit young people who are in good health and expose them to a potentially deadly cancer risk. The CCS wants to save our youths’ skin, and that is why it has decided to uncover the hidden face of tanning salons,” states André Beaulieu, Interim Director, Public Affairs, Canadian Cancer Society – Quebec Division.


Read Geneviève Phénix’s story

Skin cancer: some shattering facts

  • The most common cancer in Canada: nearly 80,000 new cases in 2011.
  • Rapid upswing: since 1990, the number of cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has more than doubled in Canada.
  • 1 skin cancer diagnosis every 7 minutes; 1 death every 7 hours.

Tanned skin is damaged skin

  • Every time skin tans through exposure to UV rays, DNA and individual cells are altered. Damage caused by UV radiation is permanent; furthermore, damage is aggravated through repeated exposure.

Artificial tanning = beauty? Appearances are deceptive

  • Exposure to artificial tanning before the age of 35 raises the risk of contracting melanoma by 75%.
  • 76% of melanoma cases among artificial-tanning fans aged 18 to 29 are due to the use of tanning beds.
  • Tanning-bed UV radiation is 5 to 15 times stronger than the midday sun.
  • Tanning beds are categorized among the highest cancer risks, on the same level as smoking or exposure to asbestos.


The Canadian Cancer Society fights against the disease through tireless efforts to prevent cancer, save lives, and provide support to people with cancer. To find out more about cancer, please visit our web site at or call our Cancer Information Service (which is bilingual and free of charge) at 1 888 939-3333.

[1] Léger Marketing: web survey conducted for the Canadian Cancer Society from July 28 to August 3, 2011 among 614 youths in Quebec, aged 15 to 29 years.

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund groundbreaking research, provide a support system for all those affected by cancer and advocate to governments for important social change.

Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit today.

For more information, please contact:

André Beaulieu

Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Public Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Quebec Division

Phone: (514) 393-3444