Why The Sun Is Not Your Friend (But Self-Tanner Should Be)

With a little over a month before school starts again, the pressure is on to arrive back on campus with a glowing tan, evidence of a summer amazingly lived.

Since I’m naturally super pale, my go-to activity at the beginning of this summer was to lay outside as much as possible. Checking the weather app and finding a UV index of 9 would prompt me to fling on a bathing suit and spend hours by the pool, sunblock-free, listening to a podcast and happily frying away.

As any frequent tanner knows, the higher the UV index, the more intense the tan. What we’d usually like to ignore is that a higher UV rating translates to less protection from the sun and more damage to our skin. Despite the possibilities of sunspots, wrinkles, and maybe even skin cancer, skipping the sunblock seemed worth it to get tan faster.

Everything changed after I found this picture below that has been floating around on twitter, and has even made its way onto major news outlets. The picture is of a truck driver who can attribute the wrinkles on the left side of his face to sun exposure from his truck window, while the side shaded from the sun is significantly smoother and clearer. After seeing this picture, you too can share in the actual horror I experienced after learning about this story. I researched a little more, and learned that UV exposure has been found to be responsible for 80% of visible facial aging signs.


So basically, protection from the sun, i.e. regular use of sunblock, has been the fountain of youth all along. I promptly picked out Glossier’s Invisible Shield sunblock, with an SPF of a beautiful 35, a super light-weight, non-greasy gel sunblock for daily use.

Glossier Invisible Shield ($25)

It’s actually crazy I’ve waited this long to make sunblock a part of my skincare routine. You really can’t claim to be obsessed with skincare when the fact is that face masks and toners can’t save you from the wildy damaging, ever-presence of the sun.

So, am I suggesting I made peace with being sad and pale? Absolutely not. Instead, I dropped by Sephora and picked up the St. Tropez Foaming Mousse ($32), left it on for three hours (for the maximum darkest effect) before showering it off, and then basked in my skin’s newfound glow. Seriously, it looks better than any tan I’ve ever gotten from frying my skin. The foam comes out weirdly grey/brownish but rubs in beautifully. I strongly recommend using a mitt to rub it in evenly, a lesson I learned the hard way after attempting to use my hands and then quickly realizing I wasn’t scrubbing my palms fast enough for them to not turn brown (eventually I just had my sister help).

If you’re still not swayed to add sunblock to your skincare routine, pop a selfie into the FaceApp and sneak a glimpse into your wrinkled future. I for one can be sure that I’m preventing the wrinkles and spots of my age-filtered self, ensuring I’ll still look glamorous at 75.

By Bella Herrera, Class of 2021

Other Great Self-Tanners

Tan-Luxe The Body Illuminating Self-Tan Drops ($59)

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Jergen’s Natural Glow ($8.64)

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Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam Dark ($24)

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Natural Glow Instant Sun Mousse ($13.99)

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Kate Somerville Somerville360° Tanning Towelettes ($48)

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Beauty By Earth Self Tanner with Organic & Natural Ingredients ($27.99)

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