I’ve been contemplating over the past few weeks about ditching fake tan for good as I seem to have a history with it that’s not been the best and since Motherhood it’s got even worse.
Let’s start at the very beginning, to the kid free days when I was actually a kid myself. Back then it wasn’t fake tan it was pretty much make up for legs – you put it on with your bare hands and rubbed it in-voila-instant tan…although if you interacted with even a drop of water the streaks would come out fast and furious PLUS you ended up with orange hands.
I remember being 14 when I first took to the bottle (pinching my auntie’s supply) – we had gone to a family wedding and I had bought what I thought was a trendy dress from Morgan which was white with daisy flowers on the straps. I slapped on the tan so I could turn my milk-bottle white pins to a lovely shade of mocha only to get caught in a downpour from the church to the reception. Cue the rest of the night being spent in the Ladies with my legs up in the sink trying to scrub off the streaks with rough waxy toilet paper! The white dress turned to mucky brown and the tears started flowing. Mortified!
As the years wore on I decided to give it another try and all was going well with my foray into FAKE…until the patter of tiny feet meant my tanning beauty regime went out of the window (along with shaving my legs and plucking my eyebrows!) Who had the time or patience?
There was one particular day after having my little girl that I thought ‘right I’m going to make the effort today and I’m going to put on some tan and feel like the old me’. I had visions of taking her for a walk in the pram the following day looking like a glowing yummy Mummy – it would make a change from being make-up free with constant dry shampooed hair. So, I slapped on the tan before bedtime and waited for it to magically develop overnight.
What I didn’t realise is that this was real life and I’d only had a baby two months ago and that baby had a habit of waking up numerous times during the night to be fed. In my zombie like routine state I jolted upright as soon as she started crying for milk and went to get her bottle. Despite being shattered I loved those times just the two of us as she would cradle her face up against by arms as I fed her.
I managed a few more winks of sleep after putting her back down and then it was time to get up again. It was then I realised my mistake as I walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I had totally forgot I had put tan on and now, as looked down at my arm, I saw a beautiful tanned limb with A HEAD SHAPED WHITE PATCH in the middle of it. NOOOOOOOO!
Yet again I had sacrificed any chance of me looking good (cos clearly Mums can’t do that). But then I looked at my arm again. If I had NO tan, what did that mean for my baby girl?
Racing back to the bedroom I looked down to see her cheeky face smiling up at me. Phew she’s fine, I thought – no damage here. Until I looked closer. Had I opened the curtains properly? There seemed to be a shadow on one side of her face. Nope curtains fully open. Christ! I’ve tanned half my baby’s face!
You’d think I would have learnt but oh no. As the arrival of baby number two was imminent I had plans to try and make the moment they met Mummy for the first time as glamorous as possible. Yes, this time around I’d have those lovely post birth ‘Mother baby photos’ complete with perfect painted nails and a blissful glow (unlike the first time around where I had a swollen water retention moon face that was red and sweating-albeit smiling). So, 9 months pregnant with a huge bump that meant I could no longer tie my own shoelaces, I decided that I would attempt to put on some fake tan prior to the arrival. I look back in disbelief at being naked in the bathroom trying to reach my legs enough to tan them and getting myself in all sorts of positions in pursuit of having no white bits. After a lot of huffing, puffing (and sighing), I actually managed it.
But what came next was not in the plan…
Tanned from top to toe I take my heavily pregnant self to bed only to lie down and hear a ‘pop’.
‘Did you hear that’, I asked my husband? ‘No’, he said barely looking away from the telly.
‘I think my waters have just broke’.
I got up out of bed and ‘gush’ there was a steady stream of liquid coming down my leg. It wasn’t the thought of me possibly being in labour that was freaking me out though it was the fake tan streaking down my legs at a rate of knots!
I think it must have given the midwives the best tale to tell after I rang the hospital to say my waters had broke and ask should I come in. I confessed I was covered in fake tan and wondered if I needed to shower it off- to which she stifled a laugh and said ‘oh no love keep it on, it might be a long time yet so at least you can let it develop’.
I certainly got some weird looks as I rocked up looking like David Dickenson to the labour ward. And yes, as you might expect, to top it all off I needed monitoring which meant 2 stickers attached to my chest that were later taken off (along with the tan in that area). My glamorous pics were to no avail but I was lucky enough to have a gorgeous new baby and clearly should have known better.
As I look now at the bottle of St. Tropez I have before me I smile…well there’s definitely no more kids for me on the horizon, why not take the plunge one more time. What could possibly go wrong???
Cue Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ‘Umpa Lumpa’ music…