Go with the faux: Why Jacqui Felgate is in favour of using fake tan

When it comes to your skin, it pays to be sun smart, writes Jacqui Felgate. The House of Wellness TV co-host opens up about sunbeds, and why it’s OK to use fake tan.

I have a confession to make.

I spent most of my teens and 20s not only in the sun, but also in a sunbed.

It wasn’t unusual for me to spend a full day at the beach or in the park slathered in tanning oil then, in winter, head to the tanning salon before or after school.

Back then, the words of my mother, “You’ll regret it!” fell on deaf ears; nowadays, they’re ringing in my ears.

I absolutely regret my two decades in pursuit of the perfect tan.

Sunbeds, skin cancer and skin checks

Fast forward 20 years and not only is there the constant worry of skin cancer, but also the parts of my body that have seen far too much sun are really starting to show their age.

I’m relieved I never really tanned my face, but the damage is done.

Commercial sunbeds, thankfully, have been banned in Australia since 2016, but when I look at my skin today – as more sunspots, freckles and moles appear – I wish I could turn back time.

I grew up in Australia in the 1980s and ’90s; and, while that’s no excuse, back then the deep, dark tan really was the epitome of beauty.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

More than two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70, and the major cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

In one study, 61 of 63 women diagnosed with melanoma before age 30 used tanning beds – that’s 97 per cent.

It’s a frightening statistic, and nowadays I get my skin checked every year.

It’s never too late to be sun smart

Another thing I’ve really noticed since turning 40 is the skin on my hands.

It’s the first part of my body where I see the clear difference between an area that’s seen too much sun and one that hasn’t.

It’s wrinkly, cracked and dry – and I’ve only got myself to blame.

I look at my hands next to those of my children and I really feel my age!

Of course, growing old is a privilege and wrinkly hands, like everything else, is just a part of life.

But decisions I made as a young woman are starting to hit home.

The good news is it’s not too late to be sun smart.

I recently downloaded Cancer Council’s SunSmart Global UV app; it gives you live UV and sun protection alerts every day ­– wherever you are in the world.

Sometimes we all need a little reminder and I’ve found this very helpful – along with keeping a hat and sunscreen in the car.

Ten years ago, this just wouldn’t have been front of mind.

It has taken a lifetime, but I’ve finally learnt my lesson.

Nowadays I get my tan out of a bottle. It’s safe and it looks good.

But there’s even a debate about whether we should use fake tan at all – that even out of a bottle it perpetuates a myth that a tan is healthy.

Personally, I use fake tan about once a week and I’m OK with that.

But when it comes to my kids, I am like a hawk.

They both wear long- sleeved bathers and never go out in the sun without a hat and sunscreen.

At school, they have the “no hat, no play” rule.

From the time they were toddlers, they have been educated about the importance of keeping their skin out of the sun.

Their beautiful skin is just perfect. And hopefully, with a few simple steps, it will stay that way.

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Written by The House of Wellness TV co-host Jacqui Felgate.