Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Thoughts on Tanning

I mentioned in my "Favorite Drugstore Beauty Products" post on Thursday a brief ode - or should I say, bark - on tanning. I feel like I'm somewhat qualified to talk about it since I used to tan so much that I was literally purple. 

Perhaps it came from my small-town upbringing, where it seems as though all the "cool girls" went tanning, got acrylic nails and had the ever-popular skunk highlights circa 2004 in high school. {You know, as we also wore our Hollister jeans and Abercrombie & Fitch-emblazoned logo tees…?} Perhaps it was just that early 2000's time period. Or maybe we were just young and dumb. I don't know what it was, but when I was in high school and early college, the tanner you were, the better. Bonus points if you had a tan "tattoo" from a sticker placed on some tantalizing region like just-below-the-hips that would peek out from said Hollister jeans if you raised your arms just high enough. 

My mom was pretty strict about tanning in high school: I could only do it before an event {e.g. prom} and only for two or so days a week. At the time, I thought she was so! cruel! because all my friends were doing it at least four-five times a week. And then there were those stories of hardcore girls going to one place to tan in the morning and another place to tan in the evening. Rebels. Now, as a mom myself, I totally, 100% get it. She wasn't cruel, she was caring. 

Then I got to college. If I ever had any extra money from my babysitting gig or my part-time job on campus, I would immediately hit up the local tanning place in Waco, which I also loved because one of my friends worked there and we could catch up on boy talk. I would tan until there was no tomorrow. Bonus points if said friend let me tan in the Tanning Bed 5000 or whatever high-powered machine there was that would bake you into oblivion. 

[Disgusting short hair. I can't even. Bust see how orange I am?!]

And then, one day, I watched the episode{s} of "Grey's Anatomy" where Izzie Stevens gets Stage IV metastatic melanoma that spreads to her brain and had to have two tumors removed. From that point on, I vowed to never tan again. 

[Post-baby I'm looking at this picture thinking: "Hi, skinny!" and "Man, I loved that dress." Also: orange.]

…I know what you're thinking. "It took you watching 'Grey's' to say you'll never tan again? Really? Come on." And I say to you: "YES." 

You would think my dad having Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia would be enough to scare me out of it, even though leukemia is not related to tanning like melanoma is. Going to M.D. Anderson to see what my dad had to go through apparently didn't do it; "Grey's Anatomy" did. I completely understand that it's strange and doesn't make sense. 

So from that point on, I vowed to never get in a tanning bed again. And I didn't. And I haven't.

I can sit here all day and preach to you the statistics on skin cancer, like how it's the most common form of cancer in the United States. But you can read all of those here, and I'd encourage you to do so. 

You first need to know exactly how white I am. {Typing this out sounds like a "Your mama…" joke.} I'm so white that you can see my purple veins. I'm so white that you can see my hair follicles in my lower legs. I'm so white that I always have to buy the lightest make-up and the lightest self-tanning lotion. I'm so white that all of my make-up has an SPF, and I douse SPF 50+ on my face and body in the summer…especially if I'm going to be outside for long periods of time. {And even then, I sometimes still burn.}

But that's okay. I embrace it. Why? Because that's me. That's who God made me to be. And I'm sorry, I'd rather be white as a ghost than tan, wrinkly and possibly have cancer. 

I've always been so jealous of those people with naturally dark skin; my husband is one of them. He goes outside for five minutes - with sunscreen - and comes back with a glow. And while I love his dark skin, I know that's who God made him to be. 

Do you see fashion models and/or actresses who tan? No. They don't do it because it ages you so much faster and their career would be down the toilet if that happens. So, I figure if Angelina Jolie and Amy Adams are okay with pale skin, then so am I. 

"So what do you do for a little color?" you say. I'm so glad you asked. 

On my wedding day, I wanted to have a bit of a natural-looking tan to contrast with my wedding dress. So, I hopped over to Spa Nordstrom at NorthPark for their St. Tropez Instant Glow Airbrush Tanning. It's perfect and looks so natural! It's only about $60 and lasts a good week. I do this whenever I have a big event: friends weddings I'm in; beach vacations; and the like. 

[Also again with, "Hi, skinny!" Take me back to that body.]

If it's summer time and I need to look somewhat alive, I will use a lotion with a bit of self-tanner in it; Jergens Natural Glow Moisturizers and Neutrogena Build-a-Tan are both great options! I'm using the latter now and it looks very natural. 

But if I'm being brutally honest, I typically just embrace the white {below and above}. It's much easier, quicker and I feel as though I'm really "me." And? Can I be vain? I think that blue eyes and brown hair actually looks good with pale skin! 

With all the laws on tanning now - especially in the State of Texas - I'm hoping that tanning just gets thrown out the window eventually. If cigarettes cause lung cancer and there's so many restrictions on them, I'm hoping people - especially young girls - eventually learn that tanning is proven to cause skin cancer and it's just not worth it! You're beautiful just the way you are.

Besides, do you really want to look like this?! 

Or this?

Or this?

I didn't think so. 


  1. I'm with you! Pale is in for me and that is ok!

  2. You and I are so similar on this topic...I could have written this post word for word! My mom let me tan for special occasions in high school then I was unstoppable in college. I tanned before my wedding and I cringe now when I look at the pictures because I was so tan. I can see the damage on my face these days and I wish I could go back in time. It's funny because like you, I think my pale skin actually looks good and don't know why I hated it so much back then!

  3. I identify so much with your post-tanning ways! I was never allowed to tan (and honestly never interested, despite being practically glow-in-the-dark!), but having a family friend die of skin cancer that spread to his brain and spine was more than enough to dissuade any thoughts I might have.

    I too only use SPF make-up, and in the summer use good ole Jergens natural glow for my legs (and perhaps my arms now, it was looking a bit uneven). I have to coat myself in sunscreen for any summer outdoor fun or else I burn to a crisp. As my roommate (and fellow pale girl) says: "It takes work to stay pale, this skin tone doesn't maintain itself!"


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