The Spa Spy blog

Sunbed danger?

The pale and interesting lobby heads to the House of Commons this week as the Sunbed Regulatory Bill is put to the vote on Friday. The Private Member’s Bill, brought by Julie Morgan MP for Cardiff North, has received media attention thanks to its support from Girls Aloud singer, Nicola Roberts (the pale, ginger one).

Why do sunbeds need regulating? And should we all be thanking the mighty pop-behemoth, Girls Aloud, for turning away from the tan? According to the Sunbed Regulatory Bill research: "In the UK, malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer is now the most common cancer in young adults aged 15-34. Sunbeds are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in the highest risk category for cancer, alongside tobacco. The intensity of UV rays in some sunbeds can be more than ten times stronger than the midday sun and there is solid scientific evidence to show the skin damage they cause increases skin cancer risk."

Ban Sunbeds Campaign

All pretty persuasive arguments against hopping on a sunbed next time we feel like a spot of instant sun. So what are the alternatives? The first is, of course, revelling in the joys of being pale and interesting. Pale poster-girls include Nicole Kidman, Dita Von Teese, Madonna and Cate Blanchett, and the original porcelain-skin heroines, Marilyn Monroe and our own best-beloved Joan Collins. Staying out of the sun certainly helps your skin retain a youthful sheen. The sun's rays damage the skin by causing the collagen to break down at an accelerated rate. This results in skin becoming prematurely-wrinkled, and of course, the same skin-cancer risks apply.

The "fake bake" is a safe alternative if pale isn't your thing. The problem with fake-tans is the "tango-ed" effect that can happen and orange-y tell-tale smears! The best advice we can offer for fake-tanning is: go and see an expert. A St Tropez tan is a rather lovely, relaxing treatment and includes a thorough exfoliation (a must-do for any application of fake-tanning to reduce the likelihood of uneven coverage), massage and moisturise. There's almost no chance of smears or smudges and, for first-time fake-tanners, it's a good way to learn the secrets of a successful fake-tan application.

The Spies confess:

Salubrious Spy refers to her experience of fake-tan as her "…dirty little orange secret". "They smell better than they used to. When I visited Malmaison in Manchester recently, their tanning area was known as the 'Lobster Pot'. I found that the new St Tropez tanning formula has all but eradicated the scary smell. You do, apparently, get a more natural colour nowadays. Last summer, I used the Chanel face self-tan to good effect."

Sassy Spy has made all her friends stop using sunbeds. "I don't have anything to do with them, they're so bad for your health. I used L'Oreal Sublime Bronze last summer and really liked it."

Porcelain-skinned Sweet Spy gurgled with laughter, remembering her fake-tan experience. "I looked dirty! I had an airbrush tan. You have a nice exfoliation first, and then you stand there, in paper pants, and get sprayed. I came out a sort of rusty-golden colour. It looked OK after a few days but initially it looked wrong."

See also:

* Are sunbeds and tanning treatments safe?

* What is natural or organic?