Monday, 6 September 2010

Arctic Tanning



I always thought I was the girl who couldn't tan.

My skin has always been very pale, and I typically don't even burn - I just get so uncomfortably hot, and start suffering from dehydration headaches, such that I hide from the sun before it comes close to affecting my skin.

So it came as some surprise to come home from Iceland and discover that I had strong tan lines on my feet from where I'd been wearing the same sandals for six weeks. Six weeks of rain and overcast skies, mostly, but we'd been outside a lot and somehow the sun had got through. And I had the same thing on my face, with tan lines caused by the straps of my cycle helmet.

Greenland seems to have had a similar effect - I was wearing long-sleeved shirts all the time to ward off the mosquitoes, but my hands were exposed to the arctic sun, and ended up a few shades darker than my arms.

But the most notable feature about this arctic tan seems to be its persistance. The colour still shows on my hands, and it's now two months since I got home from Greenland. And I could still pick out the tan lines on my feet six months after returning from Iceland. I don't have enough experience with tanning to know whether that's normal... it seemed like a long time to me!

19 comments:

LindyLouMac said...

I think it is because you tanned slowly and naturally without burning, much safer and it lasts because you do not peel :)

Bibliomama said...

And so cool... your trip, tattooed on your body.

Sam Liu said...

How wonderful! What an odd twist, getting a tan in a cold country. I know when I went to Lapland, tans were certainly not a possibility. I agree with Bibliomama's comment, it's like a little emblem of your trip :)

Writing Without Periods! said...

I'd always heard you can get burned in the snow from the reflection.
Mary

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Tan lines on your hands and feet can last a long time because the thin is so thin there. I'm pale like you and I don't tan so have given up trying!

Tractor Mom said...

Just think, you've got constant reminders of your great trip!

Come by when you can....

Hotcakes said...

my bikini line... has been here... since last summer. shit.

lol....

i tan quickly and my natural color doesnt go back quickly

Jen said...

Wow, apparently Greenland and Iceland are the keys to a lasting tan! :)

lakeviewer said...

How cool is that? You had to go all the way to Greenland to tan, and tan deep enough to last this long. Enjoy!

Chef E said...

I read as you get older, and you certainly are not old like me, lol, you skin begins to develop a non-resistance to the sun, a break down of the melanin pigment and it does surface as brown (tan), as well as our skin does not shed as it does in early life, so therefore we are left with lines. This comes from the sun and that's because the sun damages the melanocytes, which are the cells in the epidermis (the skin's surface layer) that produce melanin pigment....reminders yes, of outside treks, and as it continues it takes longer to fade. I too once could not, nor wanted the suns affects. Now however I have this permanent tan of brownish, maybe age spots around my neck, arms, and feet. Legs still glow in the dark!

People who tan more easily, have more melanin pigment and therefore are protected from an earlier age, but sun damage will affect us all in the end.

Some people, like me, have almost no melanin pigment and our skin does not do a good job of protecting us from the sun. Dark-skinned people do a much better job of protecting themselves from the sun. When the sun attacks me and other light-skinned people, my body does not know how to respond properly. As a result it can cause abnormal melanin pigment in the form of freckles and brown spots.

Eat lots of blueberries, tomatoes, things with antioxidants, scrub the skin, and use sun screen in spite of the past lack of sun damage, or it will be at your door!

Ha, sorry for the lesson...

ladyfi said...

Sometimes the air is thin, the sun so close to the horizon during summer, which is why it is easy to get tanned. Mine has usually disappeared by Christmas though.

Jen said...

People think they won't burn or tan in cloudy weather, but the sun's rays are reflected and amplified so they actually get more UV exposure.

I'm not sure I've ever had tan lines that lasted six months. That does seem unusual.

Kazzy said...

I love getting a little sun. It always makes me feel like I look better.

ScoMan said...

I don't tan either. And I live in Australia, the home of tanning.

Nobody calls is that. Except me. Just then. I'll probably never call it that again.

The point is I'm going to go to Greenland for a tan.

Kel said...

I'm originally from Hawaii, so I tan easily. I think when you tan slowly and don't burn, it lasts longer because there is no peeling.

~Dana said...

You are so blessed to be able to travel and see the world! What fun!

carma said...

...and at least you are not orange like Lindsay Lohan et al..

cornflakegirl74 said...

I agree with Tractor Mom--it's nice to be able to carry around a reminder of your travels.

I don't tan. I burn, it fades, and I'm back to white. I wish I had olive-colored complexion, but alas, I'm also of the fair skinned variety.

Fly Girl said...

This just goes to show you the importance of sunscreen, even when there's not a lot of sun. I had a deep tan from 2 weeks in St. Kitts and Puerto Rico and I've only benn home a week and it has faded significantly. I think the longer your exposure, the longer lasting the tan.

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