Tuesday, July 20, 2010


...That is the question!   

I thought that since it's the middle of summer, and I'm just as pale and pasty as ever, I might as well blog about the suntan.  Moreover, my birthday was last month (the 24th to be exact), so what better time to discuss birthday suits--skin, that is.  And I do have to admit, the suntan is a subject I simply enjoy rambling on about. 

I was surprised to find that a complete history of the suntan hasn't been written--it seems as if I have heard about quite a few "histories of" that have been published; ones about lipstick, salt, brassieres, seeds, aprons, and bikinis come to mind.  A history of tanning in 20th-century America has been published.  Maybe tanning wasn't an issue or a fad before then.  My own personal suntan history is not book material, but here goes....

The first thing I think about when the issue of tanned skin arises is the summers my family spent at the beach when I was growing up.  I'm not the fairest-skinned person on the planet; my skin will burn, and after a few days the burn will turn into a tan.  There is one sunburn in particular that I remember--I was in my pre-teens, and it was the only time I blistered.  Another thing I remember is the delicious shrimp burgers we would get for lunch from a little seafood shack near our condo.  But, I digress....

The second thing I think about when the issue of tanned skin arises is the fact that I wish I had been more careful with my skin during those summers at the beach.  The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that we get about 80% of our total lifetime sun exposure in the first 18 years of life.  I don't recall devoting much time to thinking about sunscreen until the end of high school.  My mom always encouraged me to use it; however, the dangers of the sun weren't discussed as much back then as they are today.

The third thing I think about when the issue of tanned skin arises is how my little sister just loves to snicker about how pale my legs are.  And sometimes my mom will mention that I'm looking a little pasty.  Thus, I do carry around a bit of a complex, but there is a pretty big possibility of that happening since I live in the south, and Raleigh is near the coast.  In fact, my sis lived at Wrightsville Beach while she attended college, and as she is more naturally fair than I, I've tried to encourage her to be more careful with her skin (no snickering included).

The main reason I choose to go the Way of the Pale is for the health of my skin.  It's always a little bit of a shock to me when I see people baking in the sun or streaming out of the local tanning bed franchise.  That's just not good for you!  The second reason is that I think there is beauty in all shades of skin--why isn't my natural skin color good enough?  The third reason is practicality.  I'm just not that interested in spray tans because of the time and money involved.  And forget about a spray tan if an actual person is standing there spraying ya' instead of an inanimate object!  In addition, I'm a neat-nik, and I don't like my clothes and bed linens to be stained--tssk, tssk!  Occasionally I'll use Neutrogena Build-A-Tan on my legs, but it does stain my sheets at night--an irritating no-no.  As for self-tanner on my face--no way, my skin is way to sensitive. 

Lastly, there's the issue of absorbtion.  I've read that the skin absorbs 60% of products which are topically applied, and the chemicals are absorbed by the bloodstream; elsewhere I've read that the number is much higher.  In fact, it's possible that using a bar of soap that's made with salt can cause one's blood pressure to go up (according to a post on greatcakessoapworks.com).  That's precisely the reason I like to use all-natural lotion, which I get at Whole Foods MarketBut, I digress....

Avoiding the sun versus avoiding life can be a fine line to draw.  Just put on a wide-brimmed sun hat and go!  Then there is the research that is surfacing which extolls the benefits of controlled sun exposure; for example, the sun is supposedly the best source of Vitamin D out there.  In fact, I was pleased to find lots of good information on this subject in one of Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP newsletters.

When a P.S.P. (Pale-Skinned Person) needs a little confidence boost, she can always look to other women who have been admired, not in spite of their fair skin, but possibly (at least in part) because of it.  Some modern-day ladies who come to mind are Gwyneth Paltrow, Renee Zellweger, Taylor Swift, Anne Hathaway, Nicole Kidman, and Julianne Moore.

Okay, I'll admit it; I used a little digital magic on the photo above--I'm not quite that pale....

As for me, I'll continue to care for my milky complexion by bathing in milk as Cleopatra did.  Okay, maybe not, but I will add a little color to my cheeks by using my Clinique blush.  And, by the way, we P.S.P.'s aren't pale, and we're not pasty--we're porcelain

Now, what can I do about those pesky, dark, under (and over) eye circles?  I inherited those from dear old dad.

~ ~ ~

Here is the link to The Environmental Working Group's 2010 Sunscreen Guide

Here is a link to an article about the history of suntanning.

Here is a link to a post about suntanning during the 1920's-1930's on thepaintedwoman.blogspot.com.

• ~ • ~ •

Monday, July 5, 2010


My mom, my sweet nephew, and I took a little jaunt to a pick-your-own farm in Creedmoor, NC.  We filled our baskets with fresh strawberries that were warm from the sun....

"Like jewels the wild strawberries
are hidden, ripe, and red."
~Louise Driscoll~

My nephew noticed that the teenager who was working the register was wearing Silly Bandz, so they each picked a bracelet to trade....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To the Strawberry

~By Helen Maria Williams~
The strawberry blooms upon its lowly bed,
Plant of my native soil!--the lime may fling
More potent fragrance on the zephyr's wing;
The milky cocoa richer juices shed;
The white guava lovlier blossoms spread--
But not like thee to fond remembrance bring
The vanished hours of life's enchanting spring,
Short calendar of joys for ever fled!--
Thou bidst the scenes of childhood rise to view,
The wild-wood path which fancy loves to trace;
Where veiled in leaves, thy fruit of rosy hue
Lurked on its pliant stem with modest grace--
But ah! when thought would later years renew,
Alas, successive sorrows crowd the space!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Though this lovely poem ends on a slightly sour note, not so our trip the farm!  After we returned home, we drank plenty of cold iced water along with our strawberry shortcakes....

I was even inspired to make these berry summery necklaces, which can be found on my website....

Life is sweet indeed!

• ~ • ~ •

*Here is the link to Lyon Farms' website.

• ~ • ~ •