Thursday, June 16, 2011
Bronzers, Then and Now.
Do any of you remember the original Coppertone sunless tanning lotion? According to the web, it hit the markets in 1960. I remember that my grandmother had some when I visited her one summer. I used it...way too much of it...and I turned sort of orange, as did the palms of my hands, and my clothing where it touched me, and it was splotchy in the places I didn't see or couldn't reach. But I remember being fascinated by the concept.
I remember thinking as a kid that the Coppertone image was quite naughty. You got to see a little girl's bare butt. That image probably wouldn't fly today (if it wasn't already an icon). I remember the song "Tan, don't burn. Get a Coppertone Tan".
And we took these pills containing Canthaxathin which is a dye. It is a similar concept to when you introduce a baby to carrots or yams and their little nose tip may turn a pale orange (freaking many mothers out). This stuff, marketed as safe as eating carrots and other yellow/orange veggies, over the period of a month would give the skin an orangey, deeper tone. It would look super stupid if you didn't tan or skin dye with it...you would just look orange. All of these methods worked together to create a deep tan. If you took too much, your eye whites could get a little orange, as would your palms, bottoms of feet, poo and pee. Why I didn't die from this "healthy" "sport", I have no idea.
Then enter Dy-O-Derm, a skin dye originally invented for the treatment of Vitiligo. Vitiligo is a skin condition wherein pigment is missing in patches. The dye was used to darken the light patches where pigment was missing. But bodybuilders soon caught on to it's use for deepening skin color before competitions. It had an odd smell, and questionably safe ingredients. It came in a bottle and was almost a deep, forest, watery green and about the viscosity of water. You applied it with one of those sponge-on-a-stick paint brushes. We would pour a little in a bowl, dip in the brush and lightly paint, over several days, layer after layer of this liquid to our tanned, Canthaxathined skin. It made the skin a bit sticky. You had to be careful (as with present day self-tanners/bronzers) to avoid heavy application to knees, heels, elbows, ankles as it tended to stick in those dryer areas and look very orange and much darker than everywhere else.
It would rub off on your clothing, and bedding (but seemed to wash out OK). With a thin coat of sesame oil (a light oil), you were ready for the lights of the stage. Here's a picture of me from back then, with my fake-N-Bake, Canthaxathin, Dy-O-Derm tan. I lived in Iowa...a true California tan was not likely.
Ahh, yes, those were the days gone by with THAT body! I wish I would have appreciated it a lot more and picked it apart a lot less. Youth! Pfffft!
In preparation for a trip to L.A., I started looking around for a good self-tanner/bronzer that would not cause cancer, or turn me super orange. I just wanted to take off a little of the white flash so the Californians don't kick me out of the state. There are many, many such products found in the grocery and drug and pretty much any store you want to walk into. But most body products are not healthy for us due to the high levels of weird, toxic chemicals in them.
I mail ordered a sunless tanner and a sun block from MyChelle which is a company that sells all sorts of natural, healthy products for your body. The ingredients are available on the website, but they explain them so you know what they are and what they are derived from.
It is a very loose lotion in a cream tube. The scent at first is pleasant. It goes on smoothly, and easily (with a little of that white smear that you have to work in). The effects are so gradual and natural that it is hard to describe. I looked tanner, but not over the top, and without any splotchy knees/ankles/elbows. I even tried it on my face and neck and it worked well there too. It does leave a bit of a sticky feel to the skin, and after a while, when the natural scents wear off, it has a strange smell that make me feel almost like a sweaty smell, or an unclean smell. If you've ever used a tanning bed, you might be familiar with what I always termed "that burnt flesh smell". It reminds me of that. I've only used it once, and will probably not use it again until right before my trip. The tube is tiny (2.3 ounces) and was over $13 plus shipping (you may be able to find this product on some of your local stores). To me, that's expensive. But it seems to go a long way. I don't think I would ever want to use this as a daily moisturizer to maintain a tanned appearance. I don't like the stickiness, price, or smell well enough. But for a special event, it's a great product and save to have on your skin. Be sure to wash your hands after use, and don't slop a lot of it on your toes/foot area or it will look a bit orange later on.
What sunless tanning products have you used that you like or don't like? Share with the class!