Tanning? No Tar…

We haven’t really had a bad summer have we? Compared to summers past this one  has been pretty decent despite the occasional rainy day. There have been plenty of opportunities for barbecues and sunbathing but like it or not autumn is fast approaching. September is upon us, and with it’s arrival we see the departure of the summer sun, taking with it our chances of a natural tan. With winter round the corner many will embrace alternative methods of tanning to maintain that summer glow, but when it comes to tanning I say no tar.

In exactly a month I will be jetting off to Tenerife for a two week holiday which will be a nice treat before I have to come home and endure an operation. On my return it would be nice if I had a post holiday hue so people could at least comment on my amazing tan rather than my crutches, but in reality this is unlikely. Thanks to my pale skin reality states that nothing below factor 30 can be used unless I want to be deep fried (which I don’t by the way, as sunburn quite literally kills.)

I don't care much for burning

So pale am I that my lovely dad quite frequently calls me Casper (as in the friendly ghost) and due to my dark hair he’s also been known to refer to me as Wednesday Adams. It’s a miracle I haven’t yet developed a complex.

My dislike of the outdoors ensures that I only ever catch the rays when on holiday. When I was younger I tanned much more easily than I do nowadays, on one family holiday to Cyprus when I was 14/15 I practically came back to this country a different nationality, but alas, last year while away in Spain the sun did not have the same effect.

Like most I believe that having a tan gives you an extra glow and a bit more confidence, especially for us girls when wearing certain fashions but I also believe in tanning safely. Even though it seems unlikely, I will keep my fingers crossed that the trusty factor 30, while protecting my skin, will also encourage the Tenerife weather to leave me sun-kissed. Because lets face it, owing to the fact that in two months time I will have a metal cage fixed to my leg I will probably be spending winter in shorts and dresses and my legs would look so much better if they didn’t blend in with the freshly fallen snow.

With so many products on the market it has become easier to fake it rather than bake it. From the expensive to the dirt cheap, the mists to the sprays, the strips to the moisturizers, the creams to the oils who needs the sun? So why don’t I jump on the bottle tan band wagon? Simple, I can’t be arsed. I can’t be bothered to test and search through numerous products before I find the one that is right for my skin. I can’t be bothered to find a product whose colour matches my skin tone. I can’t be bothered with the constant application, streaks, patches and orange hands. I just can’t be arsed. I don’t care enough about a tan to work that hard for it.

There is of course a simpler option. Sunbeds. However this is an option that I would never, ever choose. At twenty-two I have never used a sunbed and don’t intend too in the future. If I had to I would always choose to fake it rather than frazzle it and between streaks or skin cancer I know which one I’d rather live with.

There's no way I want to fry in there!

If you think that statement is a bit dramatic I would ask you to stop and look at the facts. Reports regularly show that those under the age of 30 who continually use sunbeds increase the risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, by 75%. Studies by Cancer Research show that UV rays in sunbeds can be up to ten times stronger than those of the sun at mid-day and that at least one woman is diagnosed with melanoma every single day. Shockingly, despite melanoma being a lot easier to avoid than, say, breast cancer, it is the most common form of cancer for women aged 15-34. There are roughly 9,000 melanoma cases every year and this number is set to increase to more than 15,000 by 2024. This is, without a doubt, one of the most serious side effects of using sunbeds but there are of course other risks. That of permanent damage to skin pigmentation, burns, damage to the eyes through not wearing the correct protective goggles and premature ageing. UVB rays used in sunbeds can seriously accelerate the ageing process and this damage is irreversible. Then there is the added danger of not going to reputable salons and getting the right advice on sunbed use. There is absolutely no way that I would risk even one of these things for the sake of a tan.

Even faking it is not exempt from risks. While at uni I remember writing an article about Melanotan, nick named the Barbie drug. At the time of writing the article various health warnings were issued against the injectable tanning product, available over the internet and at some salons and gyms, as little was know about the potential side effects. The drug is designed to increase the production of melanin, a pigment which gives skin it’s colour and helps protect it from the sun. Users have to inject themselves daily for ten days and then once a week to keep their tans topped up. Apart from the side effects this also throws up issues regarding the safe use and disposal of needles. Buying a bottle of fake tan from Boots is one thing, buying an untested product over the internet is quite another.

In my opinion the safest way to tan for those that can be bothered is to fake it, just make sure you use tried and tested products. Personally, there is no way I could ever justify using sunbeds for vanity reasons when there are so many risks. Fatal illness, permanent skin damage, and looking like a wrinkly prune is too higher price to pay for a tan. The skin your in, is the one your stuck with so you might as well look after it.

Who says that having a tan is so important anyway?  Where did the idea come from that to be attractive and fashionable you need a ‘just stepped off a tropical island’ glow? There is such as thing as over doing it you know. Somebody obviously never told these over cooked Oompa Loompa’s that less is more eh?

Christina Aguilera

Lindsay Lohan

Chelsy Davy


Megan Fox

Isabel Lucas


Lily Allen

Now this post is not here to attack those that use sunbeds or various other tanning products, I’m just expressing my opinion. I am however very interested in their point of view. If you are a user of sunbeds get in touch and let me know, why is having a tan so important? How often do you use them? Do you worry about the risks? If no, why not and if yes why do you keep on using them? Have you ever suffered any side effects/had a bad experience from using the beds? What would it take to make you stop using them?

For me pale is the new tan. It’s in, because I said so. Everybody should love the skin that they are in and treat it right. Learn to embrace your pasty (natural) self. I’m pale and proud and while Nicola Roberts is far from my fave Girls Aloud member (readers know that it’s Cheryl obvs!) I think she is setting a brilliant example to young women.

Nicola in her tanning days

Nicola's skin as it's supposed to look.

Nicola has blasted her use of sunbeds in the past and turned her back on the fake stuff, instead accepting her inability to tan and choosing to declare that pale is beautiful. And I agree. What’s more I believe that NATURAL is beautiful, whatever your skin tone. So as for tanning, thanks, but no thanks.

Jemm xoxo


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