So, yes, the sun is finally out. Over the weekend just gone, the nation exposed its limbs and faces skyward in joy, and although we are not quite basking in heatwave temperatures, there are, no doubt, some red pelts sitting sore in offices today.
Having suffered some chronic sun burns to my pale skin, I have been that soldier. In my early twenties, I basically spent a long time scorching, roasting – essentially barbecuing my skin – in order to turn a more golden shade of pale. I toyed with tanning oils (factor 4!) and even hired a sunbed to my home for a week (so stupid), and on top of all this forced ‘tanning’, I applied some very dodgy first generation false tans which just turned me an awful shade of electric orange. And the smell! Oh God, the smell of them… Today’s false tans are like the finest produce of a French perfumery by comparison.
So far, so foolish. I have learned the error of my ways, and hopefully in time, so far I have no known mischievous moles on my skin, but this could of course change. I accept that I have more than courted skin cancer via my vanity and the desire to look like someone else.
How sad this is, how insecure I was; that I felt I couldn’t look good pale.
I have, at last, drawn the line. I now finally feel confident to look like what I look like. But at what cost? I have patches of darker pigmentation that concealer doesn’t cover, and I have to obsess over changes in freckles and SPF as much as I used to obsess about the latest self-tan and bronzer.
Mercifully, beauty trends have also changed to reflect the appeal of a lighter complexion, but for every pale girl admiring Julianne Moore’s porcelain features, there is also another pale girl trying to be Gisele.
The lesson? There are two.
Please try to protect your skin. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland. Traditionally very prevalent amongst farmers and outdoor workers, now more so among those seeking a tan. Stop letting vanity kill us.
Use this new Murad Luminous Shield with SPF 50 – it is the best I’ve ever found. It has a lovely light consistency and helps to add a rosy glow to paler skins. If the idea of SPF 50 turns you apoplectic with indignation, 30 is the minimum you should go. Yes, all year round.
And if avoiding skin cancer doesn’t float your boat (if it doesn’t, you need a stern word with yourself), a high SPF is the single most anti-aging thing you can do for your skin. Get that vanity working for you, rather than against…
Lesson two: work hard at loving that skin you’re in. Particularly you porcelain girls with the big false tan habit – change nothing – you are far more beautiful than you know.