Healthy Tan? Organic and Ethical Sun Care explored.

Is there such a thing as a healthy tan?  When my husband returned to work recently after a few days away climbing Ben Nevis, he was greeted with a wave of compliments – “You look so well”, “That tan really suits you”, “What a healthy glow you have”. He couldn’t help but marvel that exposing his skin to the sun without protection thus increasing his chances of suffering from skin cancer actually gave the impression to others that he looked more healthy.

We just can’t help it, can we? We know all the statistics; we hear all the horror stories. And yet we worship the sun; we crave a tan. There is a tanning salon in every row of shops; gyms that promote health and fitness also boast a couple of sunbeds.

The first hint of the sun appearing from behind the clouds, we are out, baring all and soaking up the rays. We slap the sun cream on the kids and trust the chemical concoction to shield our little treasures from all harm. And do we care what the cream contains; if it has been tested on animals; what effect it has when it is washed away into the rivers and oceans? Probably less about those issues than how long the cream guarantees it is safe to stay out in the midday sun, if we’re honest.

Of course, we could resist the pressure from society to bare as much flesh as possible from May to September regardless of the temperature and state of the weather. We could dress for protection and not as a fashion statement. People who live in the Mediterranean climate do tend to cover up more than us Brits. They stay indoors in the heat of the day. After all, it is only “mad dogs and Englishmen” who “go out in the midday sun.”. Maybe we should look more to challenging and amending our habits than finding ways of accommodating and preserving them. Maybe we should respect the sun and its effects rather than worshipping it full-on. Or maybe we really are running the risk of heading towards the kind of society predicted by Ben Elton in “Blind Faith” where climate change has increased the temperature all year round and everyone regardless of their size and shape has the right to wear the skimpiest of outfits on all occasions – “So much flesh. So much sweating near-naked flesh. Huge women in the tiniest of crop tops and panties, combinations that were basically little more than bikinis…Men in short shorts and trainers, in vests, or bare to the waist. It was often the largest bellies that were the most exposed, thrust forward like great battering rams, proud bellies, bellies of size, topped off with pendulous, quivering, hairy man breasts.” (p23)
Sound familiar? Reminiscent of the beach on a Bank Holiday Monday?

Maybe covering up and staying indoors does not feel like an attractive option. You can’t face even entertaining the notion. The good news for sun worshippers is that a huge choice of ethical sun protection is available.

Green People offer a range of natural and organic skin care products, including a variety of sun care products. These contain a veritable cornucopia of natural ingredients – aloe vera, edelweiss, purple cone flower, green tea and beeswax, providing natural protection from UVA and UVB radiation…. with avocado, olive and carrot seed oils rich in antioxidants to protect against cell damage. Green People sun tan lotions are guaranteed to be free from alcohol, artificial perfumes, petrochemicals, parabens and all other unnecessary synthetic ingredients – so the only potentially unsafe factor in the equation is the sun itself. Their range also includes sun lotion for children, sun lotion with tan accelerant and self tan lotion – all organic, all with the same natural credentials.

You could also check out Lavera’s sun care range. I plan to.

Living in the North East of England and with a holiday planned in the Lake District, sun care is not high on my list of priorities. I am no expert on protection from the sun. I don’t need to be. But for many of my friends, I know it is a cause for concern.. A friend who has suffered from skin cancer herself is now perturbed to hear the latest reports that too much sun tan lotion can damage the skin’s natural defences and be harmful in the long term. Maybe more natural sun protection offers a safer option. Have any of you tried and tested these products? Sharing your comments about them could really help others in their ethical choices. I look forward to hearing from you.

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4 Responses

  1. Joanna Glover says:

    I’m certainly not a fan of the image Helen portrays of the beach on a Bank Holiday Monday, but I think it’s fair to say that the health benefits of walking up a mountain are likely to outweigh the possible risks of exposing yourself to a splash of UK sunshine.
    I think worrying too much about getting a ‘healthy glow’ is a shame, and these worries contribute to a general state of inactivity in the UK – kids playing on their computers rather than being encouraged to play in the garden on a sunny day.
    Obviously one should be responsible though. Spending some time in Australia really emphasised to me how much more conscious people are of the sun out there, as they have been brought up to take care of their skin.
    I think looking into these natural sun care ranges are definitely the way forwards. They are competitively priced too, so I intend to invest before I head off on my holidays.

  2. Marty says:

    Another top notch blog Helen – your writing always gets us thinking in the office. As well as the issues surrounding ethical sun care, we’ve come up with a collaborative Spotify Playlist to share songs that we think reflect this theme. Whether they’re summer classics, ethically slanted songs, or just something that reminds you of a great holiday; join in. Simply click here and get involved!

  3. Mo says:

    I can really recommend a sun protection oil specially designed for fair skin and made in Ireland called ‘Parasol’. I was travelling for 18 months, and I found it really stopped me (very pale and freckly skin) from getting burnt in some very hot climates. One application lasts all day even if you’re in and out of the water, so useful for being active. And as it’s an oil, you can also apply to areas of the scalp which can get burnt. i know that they don’t test on animals, but not sure how ethical the company is – might be worth investigating to stock on this website? it definitely gets the thumbs up from me

  4. Fiona says:

    “with a holiday planned in the Lake District, sun care is not high on my list of priorities” – however, this is one of the common misconceptions which is causing damage to the skin of the british. When packing for 2 weeks in Spain we’re sure to stock up on sun cream lotions, but a weekend in the Lakes? We completely forget, yet if the sun was to come out, we wouldn’t think twice about spending all day in the sun just waiting for a tan. No matter where you go during the summer months, be sure to be prepared as it’s the British sun that will surprise you most.

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