We always want what we can’t have, fat-free chocolate, a rain-free summer, instantly glossy hair out of the shower and particularly in the case of Irish women, a tan. We are a nation who pine for darker complexions, and the gathering of freckles across our cheeks and shoulders during the two scarce months our watery sun decides to grace us with its presence doesn’t count. Therefore to not look like a support group for the deathly pale when we hit the pub, Irish women resort to fake tan. But just when you think you’ve found the answer at the bottom of a bottle, a whole new world of problems crop up. Keep in mind this is strictly referring to self-tan; we don’t have near enough time to branch into sunbeds, injections, tanning pills and the world of complications they bring. To join the cult of pale, freckly, tan-happy girls is a big commitment, and it doesn’t come cheap or easy. Such tormenting difficulties that come with wearing fake tan are the cost, the frequency, the choking and suffocating biscuit smell, brand judgement and stigma, stained hands, a hoard of orange mitts stacked in the corner of your room and the nightmare of scrubbing it all off – just to name a few.
Cost and frequency go hand in hand; they’re part of the everyday problems that come with wearing tan. The amount of money you spend and sheer quantity you apply typically depends on how vibrant your social life is and how much skin you dare to bare. You could be the type of girl to only need a bottle a month to apply the barest coat each time they get their legs out. Or you could be the other type of girl we all know and love to mock – you know the one, she uses an entire bottle on her face just popping down to the shops so her skin tone matches her maroon pyjamas. As it currently stands, the fake tan business is worth over €100 million and is still growing. You’d think with all that money tucked away nicely in their back pockets, they could finally figure out how to get rid of that annoying biscuit smell. Certain brands of tan should start marketing their products as not only offering flawless coverage, but includes its very own scent of burnt toast free of charge.
The reputation of a fake tan can crop up out of nowhere, both good and bad. They can get shamed for dousing you in that biscuit smell, get praised for their easy application, and others can become stigmatised for the most bizarre reasons. Some of the most reliable fake tans known to our very own Limerick City are Sally Hansen and the budget tan St Moriz. Conveniently enough both are sold in Penny’s, who have made it easier once again to gather all the ingredients for a night out in one stop. But despite being sold in the same place as Sally Hansen and widely sold in all manner of other stores and pharmacies, I don’t know one girl who doesn’t refer to St Moriz as the “Penny’s tan.”
Women and fake tan share a love-hate relationship full of orange mitts and stained clothes. No matter how much fun it is to bond over a glass of wine with fellow females about the stress of finding a good tan, we can’t take it for granted. It’s there for us on hand before all special occasions, it’s there for us at a budget price when we’re stuck and at an outrageous one when we’re in the mood to brag, it’s there waiting to take us back into its open arms when we’ve cheated and gone on holiday for two weeks. Bless its little heart it’s even there for us to put up a fight against the lashings of pouring rain that attack our exposed legs on the run from taxi to bar, mind you often enough it loses that fight. That’s usually where the hate part of the relationship comes screaming back into it. But come the next night out and we’ve manage to get the right balance of sun-kissed glow before reaching Fanta Orange delivery truck car crash, all is forgiven again.