This is the time of year when I really have to fight the girl I used to be. I have to push her voice down; push her away. She’s the little voice that every spring says “But you’ll look so much better with just a little base tan”. She reminds me that just a little color will make my thighs look thinner; will hide my acne scars.
I was an avid tanning bed user for years. Years. I’ve shared those pictures before. My senior year of high school I had the unlimited package and went nearly every day. I was basically a tanning addict. I loved the whole experience of it – the warmth, the quiet, the weird smell of your skin when you emerged from the bed; almost like you’d actually been cooked a little. But I loved how much better I felt about myself when I was tan.
I could cry now just thinking about it. I wonder when (not if) a suspicious mole will appear or if I’ll look 60 when I’m 40 (likely).
When my Step-dad got melanoma, I was forced to deal with the damage I’d already done and take responsibility for caring for my skin better in the future. Worrying about losing someone you love will do that to you.
Each spring when I pull shorts on for the first time and stare at my pasty legs, I think about skipping the sunscreen and going for a walk. I hope that it’ll happen “accidentally” and I won’t be able to beat myself up about it. Like, Oops! How did that even happen?! Silly me, I just “forgot” sunscreen.
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Having Ben has helped. I certainly don’t want him to get sunburned and I took the time to research (EWG rating here) and find a mineral sunscreen that I felt comfortable slathering all over him (it’s this Blue Lizard one*). If I’m so diligent about taking care of his skin, shouldn’t I be just as careful with my own?
I also realize that I’m setting an example. I don’t want to be that “do as I say, not as I do” parent so if I make him wear sunscreen, I’m wearing it too. Hey, if I’m going to make him eat apples and broccoli baby food, I sample it first to make sure it’s not disgusting (it was surprisingly good). Why should skin care be any different?
All this to say, I still fight that little bit of me that wants to be tan. I want to be someone who embraces her near porcelain complexion but it’s challenging having skin that shows every flaw. The pimple I had over a month ago still appears as a little red mark on my face. A few days in the sun might conceal it. But I can’t. I won’t.
I still wear Cotz sunscreen* sometimes. I once called it the best beauty product I’ve ever discovered. It was my favorite for a long time because it feels like primer but sometimes I want something that feels like nothing. Bare Minerals made a sunscreen that was divine but then they discontinued it. I was sent the Lancome Renergie Lift Multi-Action Ultra Firming and Dark Spot Correcting Moisturizer SPF 30* by Influenster and I love it (though at $99, it won’t be a repurchase but it sure is a lovely texture). When that’s gone I’ll be on the hunt for my holy grail, mineral based sunscreen. Suggestions welcome.
Last night I fought back by slathering myself in self-tanning mousse and temporarily stinking up the house with the tell-tale self tanner stink. I hate the smell and nearly always wash our sheets the morning after I use it because I swear it just lingers.
I haven’t found a self-tanner that doesn’t have that smell but for me, the St. Tropez bronzing mousse* is the easiest to apply (ahem, to not screw up) and most natural in color. Sometimes I balk at the price of the stuff but it’s a small price to pay for a confidence boost and a reduced risk of skin cancer.
The morning after I use it I look like I went on a vacation. I’m always stunned by how easy it was to get that voice in my head to go away (temporarily). I’ll do what it takes to stay confident but safe. I’ll try to make self-tanning a habit so that I’m not tempted to get just a little tan this summer. It’s so silly in the grand scheme of things but I’m certain when that mole shows up one day, I’ll be glad that at least I stopped when I did.
Do you have a favorite self-tanner? If so, please share. I’ve tried NKD skin gradual lotion* (looked a little orange on me) and the St. Tropez gradual tan lotion* in light/medium (really liked, but it is very gradual). I’m always on the hunt for the perfect product to help keep that little voice at bay.