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This is certainly going to get a huge reaction from some of you but I also think that on any skin forum it needs to be discussed. As a tanorexic I have very mixed feelings about tanning. I really have to say that I envy people born with brown cocoa colour skin (light black people or darker hispanic people, Indian people etc). Many of these people fight to get whiter but I would be so happy to be darker by nature. I think my only ally here will be Momof2Girlz but the reality is that while we all have heard and know how bad tanning is for you, it is still a multi-billion dollar industry for indoor tanning, still has a huge following outdoors (I see people baking on the beach every day and using BABY OIL something even I long since gave up) and the industry to correct and block the damage is also a multi-billion dollar industry.

In my heart and head I know that tanning is bad for me and I have recently given it up completely. That said, I hate how I look white and despite all the recommendations for "self-tanners" I HATE THEM! I despise them and nobody has yet to recommend one to me that will not stain my clothing, sheets, come off unevenly, require I turn totally white between applications, stain my hands, wash off my hands before anywhere else, tint me rather than tan me, etc. This is just a reality and I know many people swear by these self-tanners and have their "favourite" but for me nothing beats a natural, deep dark tan--as bad as I know it is for me.

Logically someone who is fighting the aging process should shun the sun completely but previous sun-damage in itself creates what I call the "sun-tanning paradox". The paradox being that in order to conceal damage done you need to damage your skin more. Years of tanning cause discolourations, sun spots, permatan (I call that semi-permanent tan/damage) etc. which only are actually concealed when you go back into the sun and achieve a tan. For those who have been smart with the sun their whole lives it is very easy to reprimand people like me and lecture us on the fact we caused the damage with the sun and should thus avoid it and point out how foolish we are but this does not take into account the pyschological impact the sun has on some of us.

On the latter issue I want to point out my own issues with the sun and the psychological impacts it has on me. Firstly, I am an outdoors person. I love the outdoors especially the beach. I find nothing more relaxing than being at the beach and listening to the waves, doing watersports such as jetskiing, waterskiing, swimming etc. For me though the ultimate in relaxation is laying in the sun. This is something many people do not understand but it is a mood elevator for me. I love being exposed to sun not only for the tan but more for the mood elevating effects. It is PROVEN the sun and sun exposure elevate moods and this is why it is prescribed in many countries as therapy for seasonal effective disorder (I suffered from this, especially in Sweden where our nights lasted all day where I lived in the North of Sweden for most of the Winter).

Now I know the logical answer people will now all say which is that there is no reason for me to NOT enjoy all this with a maximum protection sunscreen. OK--here are my issues--I never liked putting sunscreen on. Not only do I like being tan, but I also hate being greasy on a beach. Nothing detracts from the enjoyable effects than having sand stuck all over me, feeling greasy and sweaty, having to re-apply lotion constantly during my time on the beach and worrying about missing a spot and getting blotchy sun exposure.

For many these things are just "the price" you pay for saving your skin but in the end I do sometimes question at what price youth? I have friends my age who have abstained from sun-exposure their whole lives and their skin looks much older than mine. I also know that NO MATTER WHAT one does, skin-aging is inevitable at some point. The best example I have is an older friend who is now 50 and considerably older than me, who never went into the sun as a child, never goes into the sun now, avoids it like the plague and had great skin which I did notice UNTIL this year when suddenly, despite doing everything right, her skin aged considerably and she looks more or less her age--maybe 5 years younger.

All this is not to mention that many of us born WHITE as in caucasion, light-medium toned with an ability to tan, feel much better about ourselves, more confident and happier, when we DO have a tan.

Now I am not advocating tanning, I DO know it is bad for me and at present I am abstinent but it is truly hard for me. It is like an alcoholic abstaining from a drink which I recognise in myself. My life has always been so centered around tanning and looking "young and bronzed" as well as enjoying the sun, the beach and using it as a relaxation method as well as an activity. Living on a beach does not help me at all. What I want to do with this post is to open up a conversation about this as I know I am far from alone.

I also feel that there is still a great divide even among dermatologists and plastic surgeons. For example, I went to a consult with a PS about doing laser for some scars and a TCA peel on my neck and decollatage for sun-damage and was told by the PS that my skin looked VERY young for my age despite my tanning obsession and that the sun "IS NOT ALL THAT BAD AND SOME EXPOSURE IS GOOD FOR YOU". Likewise my dermatologist, who I openly blamed myself and my tanning with for my dehydrated skin, immediately vetoed me and said that my over-exfoliating and use of a high level AHA was more likely the culprit and that tanning "GETS A BAD RAP BUT CAN BE HEALTHY AND IS OK IF DONE MODERATELY".

These comments are not what people expect from dermatologists or plastic surgeons but I have read a lot of similar articles even in very popular women's magazines. I also have heard many dermatologists slam the sun-block industry for many reasons! Firstly there has been controversy over some ingredients being ineffective, the industry makes creams that have to be repeatedly re-applied to maximise profit, SOME EVEN CAUSE CANCER and are worse than the sun! Clearly there are also good sunblocks but none that are exceedingly practical for someone who loves to be at the beach.

Then there is also a huge disconnect between those doctors and researchers who say NO sun-exposure and those who claim there are legitimate health benefits to moderate sun-exposure.

Finally the one thing that really annoys me is that there is a very effective treatment for people like me which is both protective and offers the benefits of a tan without the risks--*********. It is a synthetic substance which was discovered in USA and for obvious reasons (white British ancestry and extreme sun-exposure) is being developed in Australia. The substance actually triggers the hormone in the brain that tells your skin to release melanocytes (melanin) which in turn tans you. This substance gives a natural tan without sun-exposure and also as a result offers direct sun protection. The issue with ********* is that, as always, the industry is blocking the necessary research and legitimatisation of the substance, its use and benefits, to forward the "no sun" agenda. This is, for me, almost criminal as so many people are going to put themselves at risk of photo-aging and skin cancer anyway! It is sold in an injection form but with the right research, which was underway but due to lack of funding seems to have come to a halt, it could have been available in a pill form. I do not support rubber stamping anything but as with AIDS drugs, Cancer drugs and new addiction treatments I do feel for some people these drugs are the lesser of two evils and if prescribed by a doctor and monitored can save lives.

I know this is long, will hit many as insane, but I also know as a person fighting both my tanorexia for cosmetic reasons as well as my enjoyment of the beach and watersports I am not alone and this is a legitimate skin issue! I have been abstinent from the sun and have decided NEVER to use indoor tannning salons again but I am still reeling from not being tan and the summer being upon me and more over, I miss going to the beach something awful!
 

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Well Lexi, I understand your dilemma. Skin appearance is an intensely personal choice, of course. You have to do what you feel is best, and the key as you point out is MODERATION, as in most things!


Sure, there are ppl who develop melanoma who have never tanned at all, and it shows up where the sun has never shone, but why court disaster? I used to tan too, unprotected, and am paying the price. My skin will never be baby soft and lily-white as it used to be pre-tanning, but I do the best I can with what I have and try to minimize my risk now. I cringe when I hear young ppl say, "Oh by the time I get old they'll have a cure for wrinkles!!"

But it's a personal choice, and I respect anyone's decision.....IF they have already been informed of the potential hazards. And I hope this forum gives ppl a broad perspective of skin care. You are certainly well-informed and well-spoken, Lexi, and I appreciate all your excellent posts.




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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Fawnie and thanks! I am really struggling with this. Part of me truly wants to go into sun avoidance and repair mode but I do worry about giving up everything that makes me feel "good" in life too. I do feel there are benefits to tanning but at the same time I see all too well the harsh effects too. I did not realise you ever tanned actually but like you I do remember having WHITE skin. Ironically, and often commented on by boyfriends, my skin has always been VERY soft despite my tanning. I remember dating a guy who touched my leg and said-''WOW , your skin is soft, I did not think you would have such soft skin" This goes to show the perception of very tanned skin.

I am open to trying to use the self-tanners again and had in fact bought Jergens Firming bronzing moisturiser yesterday. THEN I read online reviews and the orange clothes, sheets and palms or alternately white hands were all mentioned which really got me down on them again. I am at a point where my skin's integrity is very important to me and I think I would rather be white and have firm skin than dark with wrinkles all over. I just have to reconcile this with myself and find my happy medium.

Thanks again for the compliment and I do return it as your posts are always very informative and you are a wealth of knowledge.
 

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When I read this this morning I thought "Wow is she brave, writing such a thing on a skin board full of fanatic sun-shunners." LOL Checking back this afternoon, I'm surprised at the lack of fallout.

I'm 48. Like most girls of my generation, I spent summers baking in the sun for hours trying to get the "Deep Dark Hawaiian Tan". I felt as you do, I LOOKED BETTER with a tan. I still feel I look better "with a little color". At 18 I moved to Florida where I have lived (most of the year) for almost 30 years. And since I've never been a "shut-in" I've gotten plenty of sun over the decades even though I gave up "baking" almost 20 yrs. ago. ALWAYS sunglasses, almost always sunscreen on my face if out in the sun longer than 20 min.

Last summer (age 47) I looked in the mirror one morning and was shocked at what looked back at me. I had always thought I looked good for my age, whatever that age was, but that morning I really looked like "an older woman": more lines under my eyes, I could FEEL the lines in my forehead with fingers, but worst of all my face was sagging, my chin was starting to look like it melted into my neck. I felt like Chicken Little "My face is falling! My face is falling!" I was quite upset and in the last 8 months I've been experimenting with different ingredients, supplements, facial exercise. My goal is not to look 10 years younger (though that would be nice), but to not look OLDER than I actually am.

I don't credit this suddenly aged looking face to sun damage - I give the credit to MENOPAUSE. I started it at 42. At 47, I was self-congratulatory about having rather skated through it with almost no problems. No periods, yea! But apparantly no periods means no estrogen which equals face sink and the rapid advancement of more lines and encrouching wrinkles. I loved menopause, now I'm thinking menopause sucks. This is what probably happened with your 50 year old friend who went from looking so much younger to looking her age in such a short period of time. Life-long sun avoidance is no match for the big M.

I live in a small community with a large retiree population. They walk in the sun every day, play golf, enjoy the beach as often as they can. They are all from up North and endured 60+ years of harsh winters - they ain't giving up the warmth of the sun now that they can finally enjoy it year round. They are 65 to 80. And they LOOK 65-80. Doesn't matter how much sun they did or didn't get when they were children or adults - they do not look decades younger. This is apparantly what happens as you get older...you age! And it shows. Ack!!!

So Lexi...I'm not going to tell you to go ahead keep tanning your face! No, because I've known too many people in their 20's and beyond who definitely looked older than their years from doing that. But I will say wholeheartedly, find a balance you can live with. Make your compromise. Maybe you are not willing to give up your enjoyment of the beach and outdoor activities just so you can look 30, or 40, or 50 a while longer than your peers - SO? The big M is going to happen anyway. (Facial Exercise, Lot's of Moisturizer NOW!)

I made my compromise last winter: Slather sunscreen on my face, a visor, ALWAYS sunglasses outdoors, but enjoying the beach almost everyday between 2-4 in the afternoon allowing the rest of my body to tan. I'd rather look my age and enjoy my life rather than become a self-imposed shut-in surrounded by anti-aging potions that aren't going to work in the end.

Just my take on your post.

Lovely Lucy
 

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How nice and reassuring Lovely Lucy! I am 37 and I am very much like you and I live now in Miami Beach and it is impossible for me to reconcile the two realities of aging and the reality of the beach culture and my desire to be tan and enjoy the outdoors. I too have always looked young for my years and even now I still get hit on by guys from 17 to 60 (a lot of young guys usually) and so the reality of my damaging my skin with the sun is just starting to sink in. The shame is that I ended up damaging my skin more trying to avoid the alleged damage from the sun. I was so worried about tanning after 35 as I did that I started to exfoliate like mad, using glycolic scrubs, a scouring end of a sponge to wash myself (hopefully resurface were my thoughts) and then high level AHA's at 20% and worse! My skin did indeed age or look aged but a trip to the dermatologist taught me it was more my exfoliating than my sun-exposure. I am now trying to heal this! The moral of the story for me is that sometimes the cure is worse than the problem.

I do agree with you that I want to find a happy medium and I am like you in that I have used sunblock on my face for years now. I jokingly told Fawnie that unlike most people I have young skin on my face and old body skin now! The dermatologist told me it should not be permanent and that my skin integrity was otherwise VERY good and well under my chronological age despite my tanning. At worse I will have to do a series of peels now on my body if I see no improvement in 3 months--daunting thought!

I also agree that menopause likely is the cause of my friends sudden aging which is why I think that all the stringent living is unfortunately just delaying the inevitable which is why I question the logic in denying yourself certain pleasures.

Thanks so much again and yes, I expected to be blasted out of here but I think I was brutally honest and that people somehow respect that because I am not pushing my agenda just explaining what some of us battle with.

Lexi
 

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I have to laugh at Lucy's post!

I am "sorta" looking forward to the day when I get to be 70 or so, God willing, and not concerned about feeling "invisible", as I do now and so concerned about looking young. Not that 70's aren't concerned about appearance.

I wouldn't mind basking in the sun, soaking up the warmth again and turning into one beautiful old lizard! Doesn't an "older" person look vital and happy with a tan? Now how's that for being a big old hypocrite? Sorry, I admit it.




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LOL! It is too funny because it is a self-imposed prison and Fawnie I am right behind you in putting myself in it! I, like you, stopped smoking NOT for my health, for my skin! I now am paining over tanning NOT because I am worried about skin cancer, but for my skin aging! It is exactly what I have told a great friend of mine recently--when I am old I am going to smoke, drink alcohol and eat what I want and sit in the sun all day! For now I have to try and preserve what I have and strive to stay young! Anyway I am off to get ready for tonight all! Happy Saturday night!
 

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Fawnie,

"The invisible age" lol. Yep. We are in that period of life where we aren't young women, but, we aren't old women yet either. What to do? We don't want to look 70 before we get there, so why can't we hold on to 35 or 45 until then??? Where is the magic pill? The magic potion? The magic wand?What I hate is most days I still feel around 34-38 on the inside, but what I see in the mirror just doesn't match up. Sigh.

Your post above made ME smile. I remember very well thinking, and probably saying out loud 20-30 yrs. ago, " By the time *I* get older they will have found a cure for wrinkles. I'm not worried about getting a tan." Uh huh.

Well, here I am...older...where's the cure? Dammit. Smile.
 

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I have to laugh at Lucy's post!

I am "sorta" looking forward to the day when I get to be 70 or so, God willing, and not concerned about feeling "invisible", as I do now and so concerned about looking young. Not that 70's aren't concerned about appearance.

I wouldn't mind basking in the sun, soaking up the warmth again and turning into one beautiful old lizard! Doesn't an "older" person look vital and happy with a tan? Now how's that for being a big old hypocrite? Sorry, I admit it.
Wow!! Look at all this talk I have been missing while I have be out basking in this California


 

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I tanned once a week from the time that I was about 21 to just about a month ago (I'll be 29 in Nov....I've started to notice wrinkles around my eye, so I'm done!!
I'm trying Fakebake lol.
 

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Well I tanned most of my life from 12-35 ! After hitting 35, I thought it was time to stop. Only get in the sun when I have too. And when I do I wear a good 50+ SPF, and always keep my face cover!

I hope your fake and bake is a self tanning lotion and not the tanning beds!
 

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Yeah the self-tanners are a whole other technique to learn...maybe we should start a thread.

I love the golden glow of a tan but hate the damage, so I'm working with the self-tanners to get the hang of it. Who wants to look like OompaLoompa or all streaky like a tiger?

I know to exfoliate, but any other hints from you veterans out there???



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Lexi, if you're going to try a self-tanner again, try summer source by Biotherm. It's a gradual tanner, never streaks, doesn't get on your clothes, doesn't turn your hands orange and it even smells good. It's great because it so runny it spreads really well and you can control the color.
 

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Oh no you DIDN'T!!
No, not
in it, but I was out back for awhile. I had on my 50+ and a hat, but it is so nice out today. Ginger is so old and can't get in and out of the pool very good, so I went out and helped her in and out. It is good for her to be in the water with her hip problems.

Weather report, in my neck of the woods......6pm and 89 degrees-love these kinds of days!!
 

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Weather report here in Cowflop: breezy, cool and sunny. 70s daytime/50s nite. Fine with me!
Wow, 89 sounds like a cold snap doesn't it!!! What's the humidity there in Death Valley??



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Weather report here in Cowflop: breezy, cool and sunny. 70s daytime/50s nite. Fine with me!
Wow, 89 sounds like a cold snap doesn't it!!! What's the humidity there in Death Valley??
We don't have much humidity- 31% at the moment. Yes high today was only 90. It is supposed to be cooling off for a few days-
. July and Aug is really when you want to get the @$%# out of dodge. It is really warm then.
 
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