Monday, July 23, 2012

Accepting Staying Pale During The Summer

In grade 12 I went to the tanning beds every week and hated every second of it. Looking back, I cannot believe I actually exposed my body to such high levels of UV radiation just so I could look tan for the summer.
(Out in the beautiful sunshine at Halifax's "Tall Ships" festival this weekend!)

Now when I see a bronze and tanned body all that I can think of is 'skin cancer!' and future wrinkly skin. Of course, getting *some* sun is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. That said, the general consensus is that once you tan, you've gone too far.

Interestingly, as awareness of the dangers of over exposure to the sun's rays have spread and people have decreased their amount of direct sun exposure, the self tanning lotion industry has sky rocketed. Although culturally we're moving towards accepting that laying out in the sun to get a tan isn't socially acceptable, having tanned skin during summer months remains a desirable trait.

It's like the tanned skin ideal hasn't gotten the memo from the tanning gives skin cancer department.

Unfortunately, self tanning and bronzing lotions (and sprays) can also be problematic for similar (re: cancer causing ingredients) reasons.

Many generic self tanning and bronzing lotions are filled with sketchy ingredients such as estrogenic sunblocks and parabens. They're also formulated to be absorbed into your skin in order to dye your skin colour and stay there for days on end. I can't even imagine what a spray tan would do- there's no way you wouldn't be inhaling all those air borne particles. Ick.

There are environmentally friendly self tanning lotions on the market if you look hard enough, but what I find interesting is that as a society we'll have to start accepting that during summer months we stay sans-tan.

So while you practice yoga in the park, don't forget your eco-friendly sunscreen (check out Adria Vasil's latest review on natural sunscreens for options)!

Being pale is cool- being tanned and crinkly (and skin cancered) is not :)

article and photographs by EcoYogini at


  1. I do think it's odd that having a tan is still seen as healthy. I'm my natural pale self. That is healthy.

    1. i agree 100%! although i feel like we're moving towards pale=healthy, we still have some cultural movement to do there.

  2. I never went to tanning beds. I did once get a really bad burn when I was a child. Pale skin is in, and I still consider myself to be cool, even though I have had skin cancer twice (melanoma). Good for you for reminding people to look after the skin there in, but even Cool people can get skin cancer, without being crinkly.

    1. Good point Sherena! Thank you for reminding us- having skin cancer isn't always the result of not taking care of your skin!

  3. I heart being pale and interesting. Always have. Luckily being British there has always been an acceptance that to tan is next to impossible (unless you want that "just been dipped in a vat of tandoori sauce" look popular with members of Geordie Shore (google it)). I'm not overly happy with the idea of covering oneself in chemically ridden sunblock either. Because of this, coupled with the lack of sun, there is a huge Vit D shortage in the people of this little island. I just try to stay in the shade as much as possible and wear thin but long sleeves on my bike.

    1. yes- there is that. i also am not a fan of sunblock, but i wear (natural!) so that i can spend some time outside. Our summer this year has been sunny, weird for a typically foggy city, so i'm trying to enjoy it safely. That said, my arms still tanned despite my efforts (boo!)

  4. I'll totally admit that this is one of my biggest downfalls. For years, I didn't play into being tan and I'm still massively opposed to sunscreen...but I'm not going to lie there's something that just feels so (wrongly) good about laying out on my patio catching 20-40 minutes of rays. Skin cancer is going to be my down's on of the things I lecture about when teaching about cancer and I'm honest with the class about where I am on this one. I know that uber-tanning is bad....but I do love some sun-kissed skin during the summer time to get me through our long, gray Oregon winters. I guess I need to add this to the list with bananas, coffee, driving a crossover, and the occasional AC use that have become some of my fallback lifestyle choices even after so embracing the green movement! :)


I love hearing from you! So I don't miss a comment, I like "pre-approving" them :)
I ask only that we stay respectful.
Also, please note that this is a personal blog and not a space for advertising your company. I reserve the right to delete "advertising" comments.

**NB: The ANONYMOUS option is the BEST way to comment if you don't have a blogger or established google/gmail account.