Good tanning takes planning

May 28, 2009 in Opinion by Kevin Kane

As the thousands who frequented the Speedway over the past weeks can attest, the tanning season is underway. Though we’re still weeks from the start of summer, a noticeable color change can occur in a matter of hours, and though the sun is not yet at its strongest, these are the days when the foundation for a solid summer tan is to be laid.

However, a good tan doesn’t just happen; it takes planning and preparation. Unfortunately, many Hoosiers — like myself — don’t think about this until it’s too late and the damage is done. Our lack of foresight results in awkward tan lines sure to remain for months to come, and this uneven skin tone can potentially affect our entire summer.

It’s not hard to tell which of your friends and neighbors attended the 500 or any of its preceding practice days. These are the people with rosy red cheeks, raccoon eyes and torsos with tank-top outlines. But while these common elements of the race-fan look make these people easy to spot, they aren’t the only ones sporting an unbalanced hue.

There are thousands of ways to achieve unwanted tan lines, and given enough time in the sun, these rough skin tone transitions can go from unsightly to flat-out embarrassing.

“For the rest of the summer, I looked like I was wearing white butler gloves with my shirt on, and, with it off, my forearms looked hairier than Robin Williams’.”

High socks, Oakleys, or your favorite watch — these are perhaps some of the most common ways to develop heavy-duty tan lines. Consciously avoiding such items in the sun is a good start towards a nice tan, but it’s not enough.

Hoosiers seeking an even bronze this summer have to think of everything ahead of time in order to ensure that any part of their body that might be uncovered in public gets adequate exposure.

For example, last year I spent too much time wearing gloves outside. By the time I could no longer kid myself about the growing contrast between my pale white hands and my brown forearms, the aesthetic damage was beyond repair.

For the rest of the summer, I looked like I was wearing white butler gloves with my shirt on and, with it off, my forearms looked hairier than Robin Williams’.

[ad#single-post]

This summer, I avoided that problem but encountered another after I failed to account for my hair being longer than normal. After it was cut last week, the blatant jump from tan to white on my forehead made it easy to see how long my bangs used to be.

Many people — like myself — too often fail to consider that the decisions they make in early May could affect what we’re wearing and what we look like come midsummer.

You can’t decide in August that you want to start wearing flip flops. By then, your legs might be fairly tan, but your feet still match your socks. Likewise, having a full beard while laying out through May and June is fine — until you decide to shave it for July 4.

Poor planning for tanning can’t be reversed after a certain point. You can’t, for example, realistically wear pants for a month while your feet catch up in color just as you can’t get a mini spray tan on your now clean-shaven beard line.

Hoosiers who make these mistakes, as I have found out every year, must either alter their looks to match their unpleasant tan lines or go ahead as scheduled, knowing they’ll look ridiculous.

But while it may be too late for some of the heavy gardeners or Speedway regulars, the rest of us may still be able to achieve the look we want for this summer — evenly tan all over, no matter what we’re wearing.

Now that we’ve had our reminder, though, it should be easy to avoid our common tanning trouble spots and eliminate those unpleasant lines.

The only thing left to do now is shave our heads, strip down and soak in the rays.