PSA: Orange is the New Pink...Unless It's Your Skin.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Excuse me while I get on my PSA soapbox for a hot sec and spread a well-known fact: tanning is TERRIBLE for you. Not only is it linked to an increased risk of cancer but it makes you look old and leathery like a broken-in leather couch. Save yourself the hefty cost of botox down the road and skip the tanning  bed, will ya?
Up until March I was a fake baker. I joined a tanning salon when I was 16 and continued to tan multiple times a week until college when I tapered off a little bit; mostly because I had to pay for it myself. Yes, my Mom and I both had memberships at one point. I still tanned a couple times a month or so, though and I LOVED it. 

I wanted to change my habits when a friend of mine was diagnosed with skin cancer at 20 years old - she never used tanning beds but she did tan outside, often without sunscreen. I'm embarrassed to admit that it took me another two years of tanning after hearing this news to give it up - it's very addicting!

Quick Facts About Tanning & Skin Cancer
  • 70% of people who go to tanning salons are white females between 16 to 29 years old.
  • Melanoma is the second most common cancer in women 20 to 29 years old
  • The risk of melanoma of the skin increased by 75 percent when tanning bed use started before age 35
  • UV-A ultraviolet radiation emitted by high pressure tanning units may be up to 10 to 15 times higher than that of the midday sun
So what exactly is a tan? Here comes the nerd...Everyone has skin cells called melanocytes that produce pigments called melanin in response to ultraviolet radiation exposure. These pigments absorb UV radiation which causes damage or mutations to DNA found in skin cells. Our bodies have the ability to correct this damage but if left uncorrected exposure can lead to cancer. 

People often talk about building a base tan before the summer to "protect" their skin but this is actually a myth. Any tan means your skin has already been damaged - hence the production of melanin. Your best bet is to protect that beautiful skin on yours - it's your largest organ, after all! Prevention is the name of the game. 

I wish I could show you all pictures of my skin pre- and post-tanning bed. My freckles, however cute they may be, have increased significantly. My moles have gotten darker and more numerous and I've experienced sunburns in places no one should ever burn...Don't worry! I'm setting up a derm appointment before school. 

I'm a naturally fair person. Despite the fact that my dad was always dark (and I mean DARK), I am blessed with my mom's porcelain skin which I've always been self-conscious about. We all should embrace our skin tone but my personal preference is to have a little tan going on. I certainly don't advocate looking like this...
...but a little kiss of sun looks pretty. Seriously, what was this? And who the hell did my hair? That was my one and only "up-do" for prom. Woof.

There are several ways to achieve the perfect summer glow without risking your life. One of my favorite methods is the VersaSpa or Mystic Tan. They aren't perfect and there is a bit of a learning curve (use the barrier cream and really slather it on your feet and hands!) but they work wonders and you can select the level you want. For the best experience, you can have someone spray you but all these options are usually pretty expensive. That's why God invented Groupon...

If you're like me and you're supposed to be on a budget, you may want to opt for wallet-friendly options to keep your skin beach-ready year round.

First and foremost, use sunscreen! Use it daily, even when the sun isn't shining - just because there are clouds, doesn't mean the sun's rays aren't getting through. I always have sunscreen on my face at the very least. (I need to do better when running...) 

SPF Makeup Must-Haves
If you're looking for an SPF boost, the above products are my favorites! I certainly don't use them every day or use more than one or two at a time but all are great options depending on your makeup/skincare routine. (Let me know if you'd like to see my daily routine...I'm not a beauty blogger but I LOVE makeup!)

When it comes to a day at the pool, I prefer spray sunscreen because it's easy to apply and reapply (often). Because my face is sensitive and prone to breakouts, I try to use something hypoallergenic and made specifically for my skin type like Neutrogena Clear Face. Good to go.

Summer Tan Must-Have

Now for my self-tanning routine! I've tried just about every self-tanning lotion, gel, towel, spray, etc. there is out there and none works better than FakeBake Flawless solution. Where do I begin? First of all, the scent is heavenly! No DHA fueled fake take smell here - it smells like beachy coconut awesomeness. Second, the kit comes with gloves and a tan application kit so you don't end up with orange palms. 

The solution is already tinted so you can actually see where you have applied the tanner instead of guessing and ending up streaky. Finally, the result is a beautiful brown instead of the typical orange Oompa Loompa look (I have a warm complexion, just as a reference). The tanner is on the pricey side (~$25) but a Mystic Tan is at least that much and a trip to the derm for cancerous mole removal is even worse.

How to Apply Flawless Self-Tanner:
1. Shower, exfoliate, and shave before tan time.
2. Apply lotion to elbows, knees, and ankles (I use the new spray from Vaseline) to create a barrier that prevents the tan from soaking in as heavy - these areas are notoriously dry and complicated.
3. Put on rubber gloves and spray Flawless onto the tanning mitt. Do NOT apply directly to your skin.
4. Apply self-tanner starting at the lower leg and working your way up (avoiding the consequence of fold over belly fat). Work in small sections in circular motions to avoid streaking.
5. Do not apply Flawless to your face! I use the Neutrogena micromist (or Ulta spray tan) to spray my face, ears, neck, etc. as well as hands and feet. The spray tends to be lighter in color and provides less coverage. This will help avoid the "dirty" face look and even worse - the dirt 'stache. Ew.
6. Let yourself air dry or stand in front of a fan (Flawless dries quickly! Another perk!). Once your skin is dry, apply a think layer of Jergen's moisturizer to seal in your tan and help blend any streaky areas. Jergen's has reformulated their product to be less stinky and I think it totally works!
7. Remember to avoid showering, sweating, or anything wet for at least 4-8 hours. This is a great routine for after a workout and before bed. You'll wake up bronzed and beautiful!

Self-tanning requires A LOT of trial and error and I still don't get it 100% correct each time - although it's 10X better than the first time I went to school looking like a blonde zebra. You might have to mix and match products based on your skin tone but there are so many options out there! The key is to enhance what you have, not completely switch skin tones. Stay natural! 

Ditch the tanning bed, ladies and gentlemen and embrace the skin God gave you! Wishing you all sunburn free summers!

Links for More Info
The American Cancer Society
American Academy of Dermatology
Center for Disease Control Skin Cancer

**I was NOT compensated in any way for this post. All views are my 100% honest opinions.


  1. I'm so guilty of tanning in a tanning bed! That was actually one of my new year's resolutions. So far, I've been doing really well, but once it starts to turn to fall and cool off, it will be hard. I'm a big fan of Versa Spa though. Loved your post! Maybe you should go into derm? :D

  2. Thank you so much for posting this!! I lost a grandfather to Melanoma. The thing that most (young!) people don't realize about this cancer, is that it is the easiest cancer to protect yourself from!

  3. Thank you for this! I have some crazy moles as well and definitely am more careful with the sun. If I'm in the sun, it's for 15-30 minutes max and I try to stay covered. Everyone needs a day lotion for their face with SPF! Thanks for posting!

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