ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: After a glorious week in Greece, and after seeing a LOT of summer buddies of Jennifer Lopez, Sienna Miller, and Leonardo DiCaprio, I’m convinced tans are in.
The usual tired and somewhat pale reflection that I am used to seeing in the mirror is gone and replaced by something glowing.
This has nothing to do with the mounds of brightening skincare on my vanity and everything to do with the tan I brought back from a week’s vacation in Greece.
Now, I’m not naive, careless, or ignorant, and I’m fully aware of the increasing incidence of skin cancer that can be caused by sun exposure, but the fact remains that a tan, even a light tan, makes us not just look but feel better.
And I’m not alone: a bunch of vacationing celebrities clearly feel the same way, whether Jennifer Lopez on a yacht in Amalfi, Sienna Miller vacationing in St-Tropez, or any number of Leo DiCaprio’s summer buddies are anything to go by.
The allure of tanning is clearly back, after a few years of stagnation.
NO HOLDEN BACK: Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda sunbathed last month
FEEL THE HEAT: Holly Willoughby in Portugal
BEACH VIBES: Kylie Jenner soaking up the sun while celebrating her 26th birthday
Showing off tanned skin reached its peak in the early 2000s during the heyday of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.
The most sought after fashion models were Brazilians with permanent tans like Gisele Bundchen. But such was the ubiquity of the look, the overuse of fake bronzers, and mounting evidence of the bad health implications that tanning began to lose its stylish allure.
Not that it would stop most of us from spending as many hours in a sun lounger as we could cram into our 20 days of annual vacation. That was stopped by the pandemic, which gave those of us trapped in the low pressure of the northern hemisphere a forced paleness.
But even Hollywood’s best with the benefit of California weather chose to pale. Suddenly a Snow White complexion was the star accessory on the red carpet.
But now everything has changed and the tan has returned. With the help of the myriad of strong SPF products available and the myriad of flimsy beach covers that can shield us from the midday rays, we can worship at the altar of the sun more safely than ever.
We are educated and alert. No one would ever do like me again, drenching my body hour after hour in oily Ambre Solaire and Hawaiian Tropic, who hadn’t even heard of SPF.
Now, I’m not naive, careless, or ignorant, and I’m fully aware of the increasing incidence of skin cancer that can be caused by sun exposure, but the fact remains that a tan, even a light tan, makes us not just look but feel better
BASKING LARK: Liz Hurley enjoys sunbathing in a bikini last week
GOAL-DEN TIME: Jamie Redknapp with his wife Frida in Barbados
BRONZE SPICE: Victoria Beckham shows off her water skiing tan in Canada
In the 1970s, tanning lotions were around for a reason: to make you an ever-darker tan, not to prevent sun damage or cancer.
There is little quite like the lovely feeling of coming back from a day in the sun and seeing that slight deepening of your tan lines.
Or return from holiday feeling bathed in sunshine, whether it’s the ruddy sunburn of the British coast, olive from the Mediterranean or chestnut from the Caribbean.
If tans were all about looks, then fake tans would tick the box. But they are not. True sunshine with its vitamin D booster has an irreplaceable feel-good benefit.
On recent holidays we were accompanied by a little girl dressed by her mother as an Edwardian bather, with every inch of flesh covered. In contrast, the adults were sprawled out in bikinis and shorts enjoying the rays of the sun.
I was wondering, in 20 years, when the girl is old enough to choose her own sunglasses, what mode of behavior will be in fashion then?