Do you watch YouTube? I do and there is one phrase YouTubers are saying that totally annoys me. It usually happens when people are testing foundations and concealers. “Sorry guys that I’m so pale,” says a YouTuber and I immediately roll my eyes. Since when you have to apologize for your natural skin tone?!
You might have a different opinion on this topic than mine, but in my book it’s extremely degrading to even try finding an excuse to why you didn’t self tan enough. We are all born with a certain skin tone and it’s at our own discretion to decide if you want to tweak it or not, but why promoting the idea that skipping on self-tanning is a bad thing to do? Don’t take me wrong, if someone wants to spend hours exfoliating and wiping a self-tanner all over their bodies it’s totally fine. You do you! But what I’m against of is excuses. Could you please keep it to yourself if you didn’t have a chance to apply a tanner? It’s totally fine to be as pale or as tan as you wish but please don’t feel the pressure to announce your decisions to the entire world!
I went on this rant not only because I am a super pale person who doesn’t want to hear about “revolutionary” tanning anymore, but because I feel that such statements really affect self-perception of teenage girls that are trying to find themselves through YouTube. Even though there is a lot of hate out there lately, YouTube is still a great space to virtually connect with people, learn about the field you are interested in, and just disconnect from the reality.
While there is definitely all sorts of information on the platform, both positive and negative, a beauty community constantly seems to push the same stereotypical standard when it comes to tanning. Yes, YouTube is a diverse space where you can find boys wearing makeup, people who purposely don’t wear foundation, no makeup makeup people, and the “blinding” gang who can’t imagine their lives without highlighters (personally, I definitely relate to the latest).
Despite the fact that there are so many YouTube schools of makeup, all of my favorite gurus seem to be on the path of self-tanning. Tati, Carli Bybel, Laura Lee, Casey Holmes, Shaanxo, Madison Miller, Katie Lustrelux, Jaclyn Hill, Rachellea, Kendall Alfred—everyone seem to self-tan regularly, not no mention sharing their “self-tanning routines.” While my opinion about their expertise in makeup hasn’t changed even though they are tan promoters, I’m highly disappointed that there are not enough channels that are offering different approach to tanning. Perhaps, the only YouTubers I can think of who are not self-tanning are Nikkie Tutorials and Jeffrey Star. Can we please have more people embracing their pale skin?
Don’t take me wrong: I’ve been through self-tanning excuses myself and acceptance of my natural skin tone hasn’t come easy to me. Ever since I was a child, I had a nickname “The Aristocrat” (I know, it sounds too long and not as catchy in English as it is in Russian) because I was always super-duper pale. When I became a teenager, those comments really got into me, especially when my friends started asking if I ever saw an ocean… Of course I did! My family went to Turkey and Cyprus up to four times a year where I spend most of the day covering myself in sunscreen and tanning oils trying to figure out a perfect combination of safe, but impressive tan. Nothing really worked–my skin seems to resist interacting with sunlight by giving me freckles, premature lines, and extreme dryness. I also remember drinking an enormous amount of carrot juice that supposed to help skin to produce melatonin and let your skin tan quicker. Again, nothing ever worked!
At some point, I started going to fake tan salons trying to fry my skin to the desired shade. I spent lots of money and time trying to become a tanner version of myself. To be fair, I did gain a bit of a tan by doing so, but fake tan made my skin even more dry and the fine lines on my forehead even more noticeable. I also found out that the moles on my skin have exploded and now I had not only my hands, but also chest and shoulders covered in freckles.
The breaking point happened in college when a friend of mine recommended me to do Botox. “For real, Bychkova,” he said, “Your wrinkles are so deep that you look 10 years older.” I looked in the mirror trying to see what he saw… and he was right: at 20+ the condition of my skin was more of a 30+ year old…
After that embarrassing conversation I ditched my tanning obsession and started investing in anti-aging skincare (even though I already used lots of great skincare products for younger skin). When I came to America a few years later, I went on a total “sunless diet” where I was covering myself in sunscreen from head to toe every single day. This effort really improved the condition of my skin and I started incorporating brightening treatments to help camouflaging the damage that has been already done to my skin.
Today, at 31, I’m proud to say that I experience the best skincare moment in years. I still have to freeze the wrinkles on my forehead that I developed thanks to tanning salons (read about my Botox experience here), but overall my skin looks healthier and more radiant that it ever was. Yes, I’m not tan at all, but I really love this look! My pale skintone is something that makes me special, doesn’t require any tanning maintenance, and actually… saves me money. Believe it or not, but I always know which foundation shade will match me so I don’t need to mix a few to come out with the shade for my pale and tan days.
…Being a beauty blogger, I receive requests to feature self-tanning products all the time. While I did try a few samples before that I wanted to test just to compare modern day self-tanners to the ones from my childhood, I never feature self-tanning products on my blog. Why? Because I don’t think self-tanners are not natural enough to cover your entire body with it (I don’t mind a new generation of face tanning products though as those help to eliminate tired skin). Also, I don’t like the smell of the majority of self-tanners–it reminds me of years wasted at self-tanning salons while feeling bad about my natural skin tone. Finally, I believe that everyone needs to respect their uniqueness that among other ways shows in your natural skin tone.
While above mentioned YouTubers really touched my nerve when it comes to self-tanning, I hope there are more people out there in a virtual space that will start creating an environment where people don’t feel the need to apologize that they did not fulfill world’s expectations on how tan their skin should look like. Listen to be: you absolutely don’t have to be tan to feel beautiful and empowered! And if you do enjoy self-tanning, it’s okay to be on and off tan—don’t ever apologize for it!