WEEKEND columnist Nikki Owen is hooked on fake tan
I remember my first time. The year was 1990 and I was 17. It was the birth of a new decade, a fresh chapter, the end of the 80s and a tearful goodbye to shoulder pads.
Our thoughts had turned to our looks. How we looked then was crucial.
As girls on the edge of adulthood, we would chat beauty routines a lot, and if it was exam revision time, then that beauty chat would increase 10-fold.
Anything for a bit of procrastination.
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We talked first times endlessly.
What it felt like. How we did it. Which brand we chose. Uh-huh, because, the first time I refer to is fake tan. The first time we ever used it.
Back then at the start line of a decade, tans had everything to run for.
And boy, did we run with it.
It was a time when scare stories were emerging about the danger of sun bathing. Skin cancer. Scarring. Early onset wrinkles.
Thing was, it wasn't this that swung it for us.
We didn't look at ourselves at 17 and see wrinkles at 40. At 17 we were just starting out in life. Everything was full of possibilities.
So when fake tans started to spill on to the market, we didn't see a way to stay safe; we saw a way to get a tan, faster.
A way to feel better about the way we looked, the way we were perceived.
Gone was this lying about on a beach bobbins for us. We had tan in a bottle and we weren't afraid to use it.
But using fake tan is like a marriage – over time, your feelings change and you realise you're different to the person you once were.
Orange is not a colour for me, not any more.
But I still can't bring myself to be pale, hooked as I am to bronze, knowing that without a tan I look tired, feel tired.
My friend, once, couldn't go swimming with her kids because she'd only tanned up to her knees. She had two-tone legs.
And I cannot tell you the amount of times I've had skin patchier than a rhino's backside.
But over a decade on, I still turn to it, like a marriage, needing a tan to make me feel better, remind me of who I was.
Follow Nikki's blog at http://www.nikkiowen.wordpress.com