Thursday, May 24, 2007


The trials and tribulations of self tanner.

I was blessed that though I come from hearty, 100% Irish roots that my skin does not scream in horror at the sun whenever I step outside. In fact, I am one of those people who can honestly say, "I rarely burn -- I tan first."

I spent most of my formative years in a pool, everyday, all day, every summer. I maintained my summer swim-suit tans all winter. Hate me, I know. I never used sunscreen, though. I had sun poisoning twice (or was it three times?) and sustained a sunburn so bad that I was told I likely had second degree burns on my shoulders and back. It was an awesome weekend where I developed a brief, but unforgettable love affair with aloe and then learned to love my skin falling off my body. Well, these days, finishing a nursing degree and all, I'm seeing the error of my ways. I am scared to death of my probable date with melanoma in the years to come. Friends are having "suspicious" moles removed, SPF is coming in 50 and higher and to top it all off, they just opened a tanning salon near my house -- which flabbergasted me because I didn't realize anyone still went. Don't they read the paper?! 15x the sun's rays in a 10 minute session at the beds. (Incidentally, I used the beds twice for a friend's wedding years ago. I had gone corporate, lived in an office building under florescent lights, hadn't seen my skin so pale in my life and was afraid I'd frighten her family out of the church with my gleaming whiteness. I had little instruction in the ways of fake-bakes and shouldn't have told the tan-guy that I tanned easily. He cooked me. And personal as it may sound to share with you all, I got a tanning bed burn on the nips. Christ, that hurt. And then I was done.) So yes, foolish, foolish people who go to tanning beds.

Melanoma aside, I am getting married in a few months. Holy crap. I'm getting married in a few months. There's a dress involved, numerous pictures meant to last a lifetime to memorialize this sacred event are going to be taken, you get the idea. When I tried on my strapless dress this past October, I still had my "cruise tan" from March. My older sister (jealous, clearly, because her red-headed Irish ability to burn is directly proportional to my "black-Irish" ease at tanning) scolded me, "Hey, ever heard of MELANOMA? Jesus, get some SPF. And you can't have that tan for the wedding." I do everything my sister says. Seriously.

My instructions this summer were to "cover the hell up", "use some SPF, for chrissake" and get no tan lines that might otherwise distract from my beauteous dress. I'm doing well. I have SPF 50 that I use, bought new makeup and creams with SPF and have been staying far out of the sun whenever possible. When the Betrothed took me to Orlando a few weeks ago to celebrate the graduation (pictures to come, I swear..), I gooped up and bought new shirts to keep my shoulders and neck color-free.

With a recent try-on of the dress, it has become clear to me that white-on-white was never a good look for anyone in or out of the mafia. I need some damned color but am hesitant to enlist the sun (or its cohorts) in my efforts. I called my sister. I do everything my sister says. Seriously.

I didn't want to oompa-loompa orange myself with pure self tanner and I didn't hear good things about the marriage of mystic-spray on+white wedding dress+sweating bride. She suggested that I trial run those new lotions that have some self tanner in them. Dove, Jergens, Neutrogena. I do everything my sister says. Seriously. I went out and bought the Jergens (contents appear to go easier on those of us with sensitive skin) and began my week-to-tan excursion from white. I had to enlist the Betrothed (much to his chagrin) to do "the back". He moaned the whole time about going to work tomorrow with "tan man hands".

This morning I have a nice little glow, I must say. No, I still lack the magic of a digital camera to share my transformation with you all. Far from orange and less sickly-white than I was, this appears to be going well. Tonight is round-2.

I'll let you know when I'm bottle-sun-kissed. And I'll take a picture if I'm orange.

This stuff works great - Barb used it last year. Doesn't look orange. I tried it, but I couldn't take the constantly smelling like self tanner smell (maybe the Jergens is better about this - I think I used neutrogenia or something).
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