January Tanning at 40 Degrees North

rutger-lanser-360324-unsplashOn vacations we hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings.”  Erma Bombeck

Suntan lotion sales melt at forty degrees north.  Especially in January when jackets cover skin.  But compared to my buddy, O’Malley Nanook of Fairbanks, I have it easy.  Located two-hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle, O’Malley covers up with flannel, mittens and parkas woven from caribou hide.  This week’s forecast for O’Malley features balmy nights at 25 below, cold enough to freeze antifreeze.

I don’t boast to O’Malley that on any given winter day the sun shines twice as long in Northern California than in fairbanks weatherFairbanks.  I’ll mail him spray-on tanning lotion, a token from the Lower 48 as a reminder that he chose to migrate near the North Pole.

Across the country three time zones away, another 40 North Latitude club member sent me her spiel to promote sexy tans.  “It’s winter,” Sally wrote.  “Why not pitch the sun?”  I thought it peculiar, especially since Sally hails from New Jersey, a state where governors block bridge crossings.  I think Sally’s ulterior motive is to tan her man.   Sally, here’s your at-bat.  Get ready to banter.

The Man’s Guide To Getting a Safe, Sexy Tan (and Dealing With Pesky Sunburns, Too)

Sally:  Looking your best means different things to different guys but generally means appearing healthy and strong. Suntans show that you are active and spend time outside. Tans require minimal effort.

Eric: Former Yankee pitcher Whitey Ford thought getting tan would trick his coach into thinking he was in shape for spring ball.  

chris christieYes but that’s not my point.  We now know tanning isn’t particularly safe. Don’t risk skin cancer just to look great. You can get that bronzed look without increasing overall risk.

I wouldn’t want to see a bronze Chris Christie….

The Safest Way to Tan Involves Natural Light Over Time

Many believe that tanning beds are the best way to tan. No, no, mistake.  Tanning beds are more intense than natural sun and may do more harm than natural light.  Plus you might fall asleep.

etcguy old lady bad skin tanMakes sense, sunlight travels over 93 million miles to reach us.  But tanning bed light travels about eighteen inches.  It’s the longwave UVA and shortwave UVB rays that do the scorching.  And tanning booths can turn acrylic nails yellow.

Aside from your painted nails, Eric, steer clear of artificial tanning light. The safest approach to tanning is basking in sunlight over several days. But instead of applying oils to tan your skin faster try the opposite. Put on a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher before heading outside. Limit each session to no more than 30 to 45 minutes. Do this every few days to build a baseline tan without the risk of burning your skin.

Session?  I can’t recall the last time I had a session of anything.  Does mowing the yard or running the chain saw qualify as a session?  Guys don’t session.  Or bask.

How to Handle Your Sunburn Quickly

Fair enough, whatever you do outside, sunburns are more than painful and unattractive. Sunburns warn that skin is damaged. Frequent and intense sunburns increase cancer risk. Try to avoid burning. But sunburns easily occur. Maybe your yard mowing session takes longer than expected.

My mowing sessions take long…because I run over rocks, tennis balls and hoses.

Or you forget to reapply sunscreen while at the beach. Take care of sunburns to help them fade more quickly.

Fade my sunburn after beach sessions?  Sounds like work.

First, physically cool the burn. A cool shower may help.

etcguy bad suntanCool showers fade many things.

Or apply aloe vera gel or lotion.

Hey, I read that aloe vera grows in the Caribbean.

And check that the lotion doesn’t have alcohol, which reacts painfully to burns and worsens dehydration. Drink water. Ibuprofen can help relieve discomfort.   Cover the burned area whenever it is exposed to the sun, even while driving.

I’ll set up a stash of aloe vera and ibuprofen in my medicine box.  Better living through modern chemistry as they say, whoever “they” are.

Take good care of your skin.  It’ll help you look better longer and slow the aging process.

Hey Sally, human skin manufactures large amounts of Vitamin D, especially when lots of skin is exposed and the sun reaches highest in the sky.  Got plans this weekend?  Let’s have a Vitamin D beach session.

That’s one of the lamest propositions I’ve heard.  Best that you take your multi-vitamins and leave me out of your Vitamin D replenishment plan.  I have enough problems of my own.  Plus, I’m in New Jersey and the forecast in Atlantic City is freezing rain.  We’ll be lucky to see a high sun at noon, which is morning for you anyway.

Alright.  Thanks for contributing.  Though we live in different longitudes we both get free trips around the sun, every day. 


Readers: For real information on skin protection please speak with a medical professional.  I’m of Scandinavian and European descent.  If I wasn’t 1/64th Cherokee I’d burn lobster red.  I’ve lost too many friends to skin cancer.  Share your tips on the Etc. Guy Facebook page.

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