|Current price of natural sunless tanners at Whole Food, spring 2012|
I am one of those gals who never tans; I’m a quintessential light(ish) haired freckly gal who burns after approximately ten minutes in the sun. Well actually if I allow myself to get repeated sun burns I may darken a tick or two before the end of summer, but why risk the damage? We all know skin cancer is real, and it’s not just the pale guy and gals who are susceptible. People of all shades and color skin can develop skin cancer. So why bother getting darker? Well truth be told, even when we know skin without a tan is perfectly healthy, darkened skin now speaks to being active and fun outdoors.
There is an interesting cultural shift among western white folk that has occurred the last hundred years, and I’m not going to give you historical footnotes here, but this is what I remember from past research. At least as far back as the Renaissance pale skin, especially for women, was seen as highly desirable. Reasons were both classist and racist. Having light skin allowed a women to distinguish herself as wealthy, as evidenced by any lack of a tan she would surely have were she poor and forced to work in fields. Additionally, it announced her “purely” European ancestry by denying and mix of subjugated people’s in her background. This was the status quo for centuries until the advent of the Industrial Revolution. With the proliferation of factories and women’s subsequent employment in them, the average white working-woman was now, as a rule, pale. Couple the desire of the wealthy to maintain class distinction with the rise of “leisure time” (sports, bathing, and tourism) and suddenly being tanned became a status symbol of vitality, youth, health, and wealth.
And now that we’re all feeling ambivalent and uncomfortable because of the unpleasant history of skin tone preference…Let’s just admit most pale light-skinned folk, myself included, would like to be tan. But, we’d like to do so without increasing our risk of cancer or our exposure to nasty chemicals contained in conventional sunless tanners. Nature’s Gate and Alba each make a naturally derived sunless tanner. I have tried both, and was actually happiest with the less expensive Natures Gate. The lotion has a dark tint, making it easy to see where you have already applied, and it gives a nice warm natural looking glow. The Alba is slightly orangey looking and because of the clear nature of the lotion, I had increased streaks and missed spots. Now, Alba says it has improved the formula, so it may be better than last year. Both last about a week and can be purchased at Whole Foods, Amazon, and hopefull Essene Market and Cafe on S.4th Street will have some coming in soon. So, if you are looking to darken up without loading up on cancer causing ultra violet rays or crazy chemicals (the affects of which we do not know) try Nature’s Gate! And whatever your skin shade, go ahead, love yourself and slather on that sunscreen!