(MARINA DEL RAY, Calif.) — For many women, summertime means hitting the beach and getting a sun-kissed look. For others, like Trisha Paytas, her obsession with being tan consumes everyday life.
Paytas, a model working in the Los Angeles area, says she hasn’t missed a day of tanning in 10 years and doesn’t plan on it.
“I go every morning. It’s my routine,” Paytas, 25, said. “People would say I am almost narcissistic because I really love the way I look when I tan.”
Day in and day out, Paytas goes to Total Tan or another local tanning salon in Marina del Ray, Calif. Sometimes she’s there twice a day. After hitting the tanning bed, Paytas gets a spray tan to make sure her complexion and color are perfectly even.
Aware of the cancer risks, Paytas says being tan gives her confidence.
“I have seen myself pale and I don’t look like myself,” she said. “When you see someone who is tan, you are like, wow, amazing.”
Giana Gerardo agrees. The 24-year-old is also a tanning fanatic, logging two or three days at week at the local Beach Bum salon where she works.
“It makes me feel good and I feel comfortable in my skin,” Gerardo said. “It makes my clothes kind of look a little bit better than if I were not as tan.”
Both girls started tanning in their teens after being introduced to it by their moms. Paytas has racked up an expensive tanning tab in her quest for darker skin. Paytas’ spray tans alone cost her more than $5,000 a year and she is saving up for her own tanning bed.
Skin cancer is now the second most-common cancer among women in their twenties, according to Cancer Research UK, and new studies show that sun bed users under the age of 30 increase their lifetime risk of melanoma by 75 percent.
Paytas told ABC News that even a skin cancer diagnosis wouldn’t stop her from hitting the tanning bed the next day.
“If you told me that I have skin cancer I don’t think I would stop,” she said. “Scrape it off and keep going.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles, CNN