You might know exactly how I feel. You might also be the palest girl (or guy) at the party while everyone else is rocking a smooth all-over-no-tan-lines epic tan-ness. People may walk up to you with a bothersome regularity and say “Damn girl, you need to get a tan!” And you may want to respond, “NO I DON’T,” which is how I’ve been feeling lately.
I will admit it. Last year, I was all about getting that all over tan. In previous years, I have also gone to a tanning salon (gasp!) until I got lightly burned right between my boobs and spent the following week scratching at it. I have done the “naw, I’ll put sunscreen on later, after I’ve been laying out in the burning hot Florida sun from noon to 1.” I have almost ruined vacations for myself by getting so burned that I can’t wear shirts. I have walked around all summer with a “rider’s tan” (think very tanned arms and nothing else).
This year, things have changed. This may be due to the fact that I got a bad sunburn right around my bikini line last year, resulting in a highlighter-like look for my nether regions (these things happen sometimes). Really, though, it’s a combination of a couple things.
1. I’m white. There is no way around this. My natural skin tone is not a glowing tan. I am of Swiss and English descent–my ancestors come from cold and snow. My natural skin tone is more akin to that of an off-white wall, or if you use Maybelline BB Cream, I’m the second lightest skin tone. I have a tendency to burn, not tan. I’m white. I do get a slight tan in the summer, but it’s nothing to write home about.
2. “You’ve got beautiful skin.” I do actually have nice skin. I rarely get acne, it’s decently smooth, and my mother didn’t give me cellulite. Go me! At this time in my life, I have a choice. I can a) go soak up all the rays that I can, year after year, and end up with alligator skin when I’m old or b) put on some 15SPF, get a mild tan sort of by accident, be a little (or a lot) whiter than everyone else, and not have liver spots/alligator skin when I’m old. While tanning might cover up skin imperfections now, here are three things it will do to you in the long run:
a. Liver spots:
Sun spots/liver spots/whatever you want to call them can be prevented by covering up.
b. Leathery-looking skin:
While you may not be a man, you can still appreciate the effect that excessive tanning has on your skin. Is that your skin, or are you wearing a leather vest?
c. Wrinkles. The first two on the list of WebMDs “23 Ways to Reduce Wrinkles” are 1. Avoid the sun and 2. Wear sunscreen.
2. Skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidences of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon. In addition, your risk for melanoma doubles if you’ve had more than 5 sunburns at any age. The data for tanning in beds is even scarier. YES, I AM SCARED TO GET CANCER THAT CAN MOSTLY BE PREVENTED BY PUTTING ON SOME LOTION. And hey, if Angelina Jolie is willing to have her breasts removed so she has a greater chance of seeing her kids grow up, then I can apply sunscreen.
I recently (read: yesterday) went out and bought Lubriderm’s Daily Moisturizer with 15SPF. I don’t encourage staying indoors all day (I love going to the beach, hiking, riding, being awesome), but maybe think a little bit more about your skin before you head out. Need to be tan? Go spray tanning! Get some bronzer! Or, hey, if you really can’t stay away, go tanning, or go to the beach without sunscreen. It’s your prerogative. The other option? Be pale and be proud. Like me!