What's the real cost of being bronzed to perfection?
So, it’s that time of year again when, if you’re lucky, you’ll be shopping for bikinis and sunglasses and looking forward to chilling out on a beautiful beach or pool-side, returning home in a week or two with that fabulous tan... but at what cost?!
We all know how good that feels, we’ve worked hard all year round, dealt with the stresses and strains of everyday life... and we fully deserve more than a little R&R! Lying on a sun lounger, head in a good book with the beautiful sun burning down on our skin... bliss!
There’s no denying that a bit of a tan makes us look and feel great. Our limbs look more slender and toned, and our skin has a ‘healthy’ glow, indeed everyone tells us how ‘well’ we look, in turn making us feel fantastic. And the downside to beautifully bronzed skin?... well, if we’re not careful, and I mean ever so careful, some of the more negative effects of that fabulous tan may well stay with us way beyond the summer season!
On the one hand I feel this post may be a little patronising, I mean who these days doesn’t know about the massive risks of over-doing it in the sun?! Yet on the other hand, the evident naivety and ignorance of some people around sun-safety never ceases to amaze me. “Oh I never wear a sunscreen in this country, only when I’m abroad’”, "I only ever wear factor 6 or 8, well I don’t want to stop the sun getting through altogether do I?’, “I just apply once in the morning, it’s such a nuisance to have to re-apply, that stuff leaves me feeling all sticky and I’ve got better things to do on holiday”, or ... “I’m gonna go have a few sunbeds before my holidays, it’ll get my tan on its way” Aaagghrrr!!
Despite extensive research, resulting in lots of sensible advice on a range of preventative measures, and an endless choice of really great ‘fake’ options, people continue to take unnecessary risks. In the short-term, over-doing it in the sun will lead to de-hydration, sun-stroke, sore skin, blisters and horrendously ugly skin-shedding (attractive!). In the longer term, too much sun will without a doubt lead to leather-like, prematurely aged skin, and can potentially, if you’re really unlucky, lead to much more sinister complications!
As someone who used to, in my younger years, carelessly allow the sun to abuse my skin with its rays (indeed I’d positively encourage the frying of my flesh by applying oil based sun ‘screens’), I even used to partake in the activity of having the odd sunbed (a method of tanning I now strongly believe should be illegal), and having had four moles removed (almost certainly as a result of sun damage), I feel I am somewhat qualified to write this post, and to say DON’T DO IT!
I do get it, I know having a tan makes us feel great. It makes us look great too, that is until we reach a certain age and realise that (apart from going under the knife) there is no way we’re going to reverse the effect of that sun damage on our skin – you can spot a forty plus lady who’s enjoyed a little too much sun-bathing over the years a mile off (crinkly cleavage, vertical cheek wrinkles?!)
So why risk it? Aside from the moles, I’m hoping that I ‘saw the light’ just in time – around my mid thirties – and began to take much greater care in the sun, if I hadn’t, my skin may well have started to resemble the hide of an elephant by now!
Of course, when it comes to burning, the darker your natural skin the less at risk you are (although you're by no means immune) - however the ageing effect of the sun on your skin doesn’t discriminate – you dark skinned ladies are as much at risk of premature wrinkles as the rest of us.
There are so many great ‘fakes’ out there – I know, many of you say I’m useless with fake tans, they go all streaky - but if you exfoliate, moisturise and apply carefully (not in a 5 minute rush), you can obtain some really convincing results. My favourites are Xen-Tan Lotion (although this one’s a bit pricey). A more affordable option but still with great results is St Moriz Lotion – (use a tanning mitt so you don’t end up with orange hand palms!) Of course, there are the gradual tanners too – the moisturisers with a hint of tan, which are great but just take a bit of building up (I like the Garnier one). And, I guess it has to be acknowledged, that with pretty much all fake tans comes ‘the smell’ – unavoidable I think ladies, however the Xen-Tan and St Moriz mentioned above, are not too bad at all.
If you need something instant, I would highly recommend Soap & Glory’s ‘Glow Getter’. This spray on, wash off option also has a bit of coverage and is like a foundation for your legs (great if you have a few skin imperfections you like to conceal) - Rimmel do a really good instant too.
Of course, that fake tan is not a sun screen, so your additional high factor screen is still an absolute must if you're out in the sun (I always use at least a factor 30, 50 if it’s really hot) – super cool sunnies and a pretty sun hat are a really good idea too!
There’s loads of information and advice out there but, if you’re still not convinced it’s sensible to go easy in the sun, here are just two useful links you might want to check out:
Stay safe, stay beautiful!