I lived near the Black Sea my whole life until I moved to Texas. All of my summers were spent on the beach. I was working on my tan very hard from May until August. Pale and pink was avery bad look in my circle. Tan lines were a bad thing too – that’s why I didn’t have a swimming suit! You could call me and my friends nudists, but we weren’t part of a cultural and political movement advocating and defending social nudity in private and in public . It was simply vanity – to have bronze skin everywhere, no white spot allowed.
Every year, every summer, I did it again and again. I liked my tanned, golden-bronze look. It was so disappointing when it started to fade every fall – I hated being pale, so not pretty. When I got lucky and started to work at a very fancy fitness club for very rich people, I saw this big shiny silver thingy, my first tanning bed. It was a miracle! I could be pretty, bronze and without tan lines, all year round. And, it was free; employees had to be tanned to advertise the new service, as it was the first tanning bed in the whole city. We were saying that tanning beds were very safe and good for the skin; that they had filters to remove dangerous UVB/UVA rays and were therefore much better than the sun. People loved it, and it was working non-stop.
At that time there wasn’t a lot of information about the connection between premature aging, skin cancer and ultraviolet rays. We heard something, we read something, but really didn’t believe it. How could something that makes you look and feel good be dangerous? No way!!!!!
A few years in a row I tanned only in the beds. It was so convenient and easy – no turning and laying in weird poses on the beach! Then, the day after I hit my thirtieth birthday, I found my first wrinkle. You know how it is; round numbers of candles on the cake makes everybody a little nervous. I was determined to do something about it, and find “The Cure.” I started to put expensive creams on my face and to have facials. One day while sitting in the salon waiting for my piece of hope, I saw a very beautiful woman with perfect skin and no wrinkles ( it was pre- botox era). She obviously was older than me, like 20 years older. Remember, I was on a mission (I still am!), so of course I asked very politely, “ What do you do with your skin? What kind of products do you use? Where can I get it, and who do I have to kill to get it?!?!” I wasn’t going to let her go until I got my answers, even if I had to hold her hostage. She smiled at me and said that she had a sun allergy – a skin condition where she couldn’t be in the sun. She was diagnosed when she was a child, and had protected her skin ever since.
At first I was in shock, and then I had an epiphany or something. It was like all the pieces of the puzzle came together. I knew about the danger of ultraviolet rays – I had read and heard about it – but didn’t want to believe it. I knew that 30 minutes of “safe” tanning in the bed was equal to 12 hours of sun exposure, I knew that tanning makes skin dry and look older, and I knew that melanoma was a deadly diagnosis. The best looking skin I’d seen in my life was on this woman who was twenty years older than me. It wasn’t fair she looked better than me, just because of a stupid allergy to the sun! I wish I’d had it too.
A few tips about sun protection.
Ultraviolet radiation breaks down the skin’s connective tissue — collagen and elastin fibers — which lie in the deeper layer of skin (dermis). Without the supportive connective tissue, the skin loses its strength and flexibility. This condition, known as solar elastosis, is characterized by vertical creases, deep wrinkles, and loose or sagging skin.
A 2001 study at Wake Forest University showed that, within two hours, liquid and cream foundations often slide around and gather in pores and wrinkles. After just a few hours in normal temperature and humidity conditions, the SPF you get from makeup can be rendered ineffective by the way foundation wears off.
Many women choose mineral powders because of the sun protection. However, women don’t apply enough to actually receive the sun protection promised on the label. Specifically, women put on about 0.085 grams of powder, while we’d need to apply 1.2 grams. That means we’d have to pile on 14 times more powder than we already do. While it’s never bad to use products with SPF, your facial powder is simply not offering enough protection against UV waves to use it in lieu of sunscreen.