Sun Hat

Summer Skincare: To Tan or Not to Tan?

Phyllis Lifestyle 20 Comments

One of my favorite I Love Lucy episodes is when Lucy modeled the wool suit right after she got a major self-induced sunburn. You remember, she burned herself to keep Ricky from killing her for buying the expensive Don Loper dress. But the pain she was experiencing from the sunburn, while very comical, was felt by everyone who watched. Prior to that, we always saw Lucy in a huge robe hanging from head to toe with a giant hat and sunglasses.

I can relate, can’t you? My childhood was spent with Coppertone lotion applied liberally. Summer skincare? I burned anyway. I just betcha this was before the term SPF was ever invented. Today the marvels of sunblock with high SPFs are celebrated by pale skin people like me.

When I was in high school, tanning was all the rage. All the cheerleaders had perfectly tanned legs that looked great with white socks and saddle oxfords. I wasn’t a cheerleader nor could I tan. But persistence was the order of the day. I decided to give it a shot and lie in the sun. I applied baby oil with iodine in it to make sure I tanned a bronzy golden brown.

Tan? No, no, no. It was an endurance of a broiling and frying combination. At the end of the day, I was red, sweaty hot, and still pale when it all peeled off. I finally resigned myself that my one attempt at tanning was all that was ever going to happen.

Self-tanners—what a great idea back then. They were genius except for one tiny detail: they turned you orange. And if you didn’t wash your hands, your palms were bright orange for days. I watched my friends try this and couldn’t imagine what would happen on my lily-white skin.

Several years ago in our Southern Lady magazine, we featured Delta Burke from Designing Women. One of the most profound things that she talked about was that her mother did not let her get in the sun at all. If she went outside, she had to wear a hat. Her mother was determined that Delta was going to have flawless skin. And when you see her photos, you can see that she has flawless skin.

I personally like the extra-large sun hats. When I am forced to be in the sun, I try to wear one even though I am spackled with sunblock. Find a great hat, and enjoy setting the fashion trend. Your skin will thank you!!

Southern Lady July August

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Comments 20

  1. From one paleface to another, I have never tanned and probably never will. I agree on the importance of a big hat and being very careful in the sun. Love, love, love sitting by the ocean for hours but always have a good beach umbrella, tons of sunblock, dark sunglasses and a hat. It is also important to protect your eyes which we often forget. Too much sun can actually bring on cataracts…so enjoy the sun but be wise! Thank you for the good reminder. Plus hats are – fashionable!

  2. Dear Phyllis ,
    Smiling as I read and share your summer suntanning memories …
    Long gone sultry summer days of sunbathing with only a few products to choose – Coppertone,Sea and Ski, Baby Oil.
    Later , came the more “expensive” product – “Bain de Soleil”. I remember each scent so well !
    Oh how imperative it was to “start that tan “early and slowly” with particular attention to the timing – 15 minutes to front, 15 minutes to back and gradually increasing the intervals for a longer lasting , safer, gorgeous tan.
    I look back now and wonder why I thought this youthful trend was so vital … Was I so shallow ? No , just young !
    Not so sure that I would have taken Delta Burke’s advice then, but today as a “60 some year old gal” , her advice is as true as gospel for me . May Delta rest in peace .
    I guess Lucy missed that tip as well !
    Thank you for taking me on this sweet , summertime trip of a gentler time .

    1. Oh my , what a terrible mistake above !
      I confused my ” Designing Women” … I was thinking of Dixie Carter when I said rest in peace .
      So sorry !

  3. Hi Phyllis, former sun worshiper here! But I have grown smart and totally avoid it though it feels sooooo good. I always say how can something that feels so good be bad!! But I always wear glasses and a hat when I am under the sun, however I cannot lie….most people look amazing with a tan!

  4. I was born with a strawberries and cream complexion and intend to keep it so. (Very fair and pink, no golden tones to my skin.) Although I was never much for just sitting in the sun, I did like going to the beach and playing in the sun and surf until I suffered a bad burn at age 15 and got sun poisoning. I still like the beach, but since then I always cover up with sunscreen and clothing/hats. The trickiest part is finding a good eye cream and lip balm with SPF that work with my sensitive skin.

  5. In the 60’s I used to put cocoa butter on and sit in the sun. Then, after a couple bad burns, I spent summers with my nose covered in zinc. Today, I wear a large brimmed hat, long sleeves and enjoy summer. My grandmother’s skin was beautiful, even at 99 and she kept out of the sun and it showed. For me, no tan is better than skin looking like dried leather.

  6. Oh Boy, I like you, use to spend countless hours in the sun. First because I truly wanted to and because I was a lifeguard/swimming coach/taught swimming lessons. The darker the better! I did tan because of my Italian Heritage. Fortunately I am lucky and have not suffered any real damage to date. I don’t sit out anymore for countless hours either though. I truly hope young ladies are paying attention to what we know now. Thank you for sharing-

  7. As I was growing up in the 40s and 50s, all the older ladies covered up when they went outside to work in yards or hang up clothes on the line. They wore hats, gloves, long sleeved dresses, with these extra things they called “sleeves” to pull over their arms. Dresses were fairly long and they wore cotton stockings. The idea was to have very white skin, free of freckles, etc.
    We, as kids, were running around in our shots and playsuits, not thinking about tanning or skin care. Sun bathing was popular, but I don’t recall getting sunburned. Or tan!
    As we ended high school, our Homemaking teacher took us to the Country Club one day for an outing. Food and sunbathing, walking around the little lake. We positioned ourselves around the pol. The water was too cold for swimming, still. I chose the diving board and went to sleep in the warm sun. Someone finally woke me up and we left. All the way home , my jeans were making my legs itch and burn.
    I was staying with my great aunt at the time. When I got home and she saw my back, she got some cold Hines Hone Almond Lotion and put all over my back side. I think I passed out! Everything went dark and I ended up on the wool rug! That really hurt! I can relate to Lucy’s wool suit on a sunburn!
    That night, there was a softball game. We were all going and were going to wear our white peasant blouses, circle skirts, and sandals. I was determined to go. My aunt was determined that I should stay at home and heal. But she gave in.
    I wore my outfit, but she used torn sheets and wrapped me with bandages, fastened with big safety pins. What a sight I must have been!
    By then I had huge water blisters and was miserable until it all peeled away.
    My very blonde sister was involved at camps every summer and she used the baby oil and iodine method to tan. She is big on outdoors and still
    is. And she has paid for it with skin cancer and damage, wrinkles and skin like leather. But she bragged about being so tough!
    I’m more of an indoor person, but have had my share of sunburns. Especially when I would go out in the Gulf of Mexico on a little boat.
    A few years ago, my dr. was horrified. My vitamin D level was 8. It’s supposed to be 50. So, I went on a regime of 15 minutes in the sun, then walk for 30 minutes, and take Vitamin D capsules. It didn’t take long for the level to be up to 58, and I cut back.
    You have to have some sunlight, I learned. I cut back after that and just take calcium with vitamin D, now.
    However, I have had one Basal Cell Carcinoma right on the tip of my nose! That one left a little dent in my nose after removal. A few years ago, I had a larger one behind my shoulder blade, on my back. They had to cut that one out and it made a big scar. I just know that one is from sleeping on the diving board back in high school! Now the Dermatologist said that he should check me often since I had had skin cancer.
    When my children were small, the doctor told me to dress them in only a diaper and put them outside in the sun to play. So, I put on my bathing suit, and went out with them. All we had was a regular bucket and the water hose, but we had fun, and their legs were straight.
    My daughter is extremely fair and her limit is 10 minutes outside before she gets water blisters.
    Besides the skin, you should protect yourself from the sun with hats, sunglasses, etc. Macular Degeneration is another big health problem. Blindness is a big problem. Smoking is also a No No. People with fair skin and hair , light colored eyes are more prone to AMD.
    I have that too and have lost my center vision.
    When I do go out, I wear a hat and sunglasses, for sure.
    I do like to go out and do Plein Aire Painting and sketching, but it is very hard on my eyes. I’m having to figure out a lot of new ways of dong things,
    I’ve decided that our natural skin coloring is best, as long as we take care of it and it is healthy.
    Because of the AMD, I can’t see faces, including my own in a mirror. One good thing about that is that I can’t see if I have wrinkles on my face! The last time I was able to see my face, I didn’t have any wrinkles. I’m sure that I do know, but, at least I can’t see it!
    I guess that you have to balance the need that you have for sun and natural light, with how strong the sun is where you are. Here in Central Texas, where I grew up, they have said for years to go out before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. But that sun is still very strong up until it goes down about 9 p.m. and it is still hot, too. By 10 a.m. it is already hot in the summer time. We have had a very nice, mild spring, though.

  8. I am a former childhood redhead whose hair darkened over the years. I still have the redhead “fair complexion”-always burns, never tans, freckles, peels, then starts all over again! I learned long ago to protect my fair skin with maximum strength sunblock, sun hats, and avoiding the sun during prime hours. People still comment on my “beautiful complexion” although I have a son who’s closer to 30 than 20! My mom used to use the baby oil and iodine bake/fry recipe, however she is olive skinned and didn’t burn. I got my pink and white complexion from my dad who always has to use sunblock and wear a hat! I was always different anyway so it didn’t bother me not to tan. Although I think some women look good with a tan, I see it ages their skin terribly, and puts them at greater risk for skin cancer. Not worth it! So glad I have always taken good care of my skin!

  9. Do I ever remember baby oil and iodine!! We would sit by the lake in Southern Illinois, and many of us would fry and never tan. But we haver quit trying. Wish I had known the damage that was doing to my skin!

  10. growing up in Fla + we used “fry baby oil”( that is what we use to call it)with iodine in it! + thank god for favors + skin cancer is a thing I read about + go out now completely covered.

  11. Being a pale-skinned natural redhead, I’ve always been susceptible to burns and have had a few bad ones in my time. Growing up my Mother usually followed me around reapplying sunscreen every few hours. Yeah, Mom! In the 90’s I was diagnosed with Lupus and was told to stay out of the sun, to wear makeup with SPF sunscreen always, and to find some wide-brimmed sun hats. The last sunburn brought on a lupus flare. Yet… sometimes I think how nice it would be to attend an outdoor function not smelling of sunscreen and not ending up with “hat hair”! But then I quickly recall the results of such negligence (and/or laziness) and find the sunscreen and my favorite hat. Before Mom died she had given several wonderful sunhats and was still reminding me to carry the sunscreen. Thanks Mom!

  12. My sweet Mammaw encouraged me at a young age to take special care of my skin. Sunscreen on my hands, using gloves while washing dishes, the need to apply hand lotion multiple times a day…I have learned to be proud of my fair skin and disregard comments on my “Casper-white” legs! Hats and sunscreen are a lifesaver and a must! Unfortunately, melanoma can strike at any age.

    1. I remember sorority sisters scheduling their classes each spring semester around the best sun times (and their favorite soap operas!). Then off to the roof they would go to watch and fry. Well, I decided one day that they must know something I don’t know so I joined them….I lasted literally 5 MINUTES before I was bored to tears…and have been forever grateful that tanning was not for me as here I am at 65.
      I have discovered something recently that I would like to recommend if you would like a summer glow with out tanning or turning orange…Jergen’s Natural Glow Daily Revitalizing Moisturizer…this stuff is great!!

  13. I grew up just outside Montreal where, though not as hot as in the South, it could be sweltering in July and August. That meant all day spent at the local pool. Tanning wasn’t something we set out to accomplish, it just happened. Luckily I tanned rather than burned. Today, however, with the knowledge we now have I’m either covered up with lightweight clothing or sunscreen. I still love the long sunny days of summer, but take more note of the Victorian practice of staying out of the sun than the seventies practice of revelling in it.

  14. When I was in my early 20s, back in the 1970s, I left frigid Quebec, Canada to live in Australia for two years. I was amazed at how women there aged quickly – they seemed to go from their 20s to their 50s in a flash. This and the fact that the owner of the house we rented was covered with skin cancer made me really conscious of the damage caused by the sun. I stopped sunbathing, covered my head with a hat that protected my face, wore long sleeves and stayed whiter than anyone else all summer, even after I came back home. Today, at 65, I have beautiful skin, look much younger than my age and have no regrets that I was not fashionable in my 20s and 30s.

  15. It’s only June and I feel like my face and neck already have enough sun for the year!! Heading to Newport to walk around and will definitely wear a hat!!
    Hope you get some time in your garden out of the sun!

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