Indoor Tanning for UCSF
Sexual minority men (SMM) are 6X more likely to use indoor tanning beds than heterosexual men and nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer. Partnering with a dermatology lab at UCSF, we set out to understand attitudes around indoor tanning and develop initial behavior change concepts.
Design research, visual design
Tan is attractive, but tanning is not. We had assumed the experience of tanning was part of its draw, but actually discovered the opposite was true. From the sweat, to the smell (yes, burning skin smells!), to the guilt around “cheating” in order to look attractive, tanning beds were no more than a means to an end:
“When I leave a tanning salon, it feels like walking out of a McDonald’s”
An impossible standard. From the gym to popular hookup apps, the men we spoke to felt constantly judged on their appearance, evaluated against a grueling, hyper-masculine standard of beauty. For many, tanning was an easy way to meet an otherwise impossible standard:
“If I can’t have super toned muscles, at least I can have tanned skin”
A distant threat. While men of all ages saw HIV/AIDS as an important public health issue, few felt that skin cancer was particularly relevant to the gay community, if preventable at all.
A culminating workshop with members of the client research lab, synthesized design principles, and proposed opportunity areas for future development. Using this work, our client went on to secure funding to develop and test a behavior change initiative (currently underway).
15 interviews with users and stakeholders (including frequent tanners, never tanners, partners of tanners, salon owners, and 1 Instagram star). Observational research in tanning salons in SF and NYC. Analogous research and competitive product analysis. Early concept validation using sacrificial concepts