My mom has asked me to tell you something. Wear sunscreen!
Our family had a scary couple of days last week. My mom had a mole on her leg for as long as she could remember. Her regular doctor didn't like the look of it and took it off. The biopsy determined it was melanoma. My mom was referred to a surgeon the next day to schedule the procedure to remove additional tissue around the area. Her lymph nodes would need to be checked.
For 26 hours, we were all pretty frightened. My mom called to tell me she was scared. I told her I was too. She called her dear friend, who is a cancer survivor for advice and information.
When she saw the surgeon, his opinion was that it had been caught very early and precautionary treatment would be the appropriate route. He had an opening the next day, but my mom had moved her hair appointment to that day. She needed a cut as her hair was so grown out she wouldn't be able to see to clean her incision. So, she goes in today.
As she'll have a nice sized incision, she'll need to have her leg up for a while. To complicate matters, my mom's female English bulldog, a shown dog, is pregnant. The puppies are due in about ten days. Taking care of the puppies is a full time job involving several loads of laundry a day, making sure the mom is not laying on he pups, keeping the pups from crawling out of the whelping area and generally standing sentry over them. Since my mom will be laid up, she had to call her friend to see if she could take them. My mom's friend agreed right away and has collected the gestating Honey dog. (her full name is Havana Honeymoon, they call her Honey.) Then there were things to cancel and people to talk to. My mom has a lot going on!
Day before yesterday, she saw a dermatologist who looked at every inch of her skin starting between her toes. This involved, well, the stirrups. She has one more spot that needs to be removed and tested, but that won't happen until her leg has healed.
When my mom called to tell me what the surgeon said, we talked awhile about how the attitude toward sun exposure has changed. The products, specifically, have gone through a big change in the last 20 years.
When my mom was going to the beach in the sixties, she used cocoa butter. She says it made you smell like chocolate. The only time she and her friends would use any kind of sunscreen was to write their boyfriends name on their leg. A solar, temporary tattoo.
In the seventies, it was Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee ("For the Saint-Tropez tan" my mom's friend Julie said with regularity. Mom says she was going to smack Julie if she said it one more time) with an SPF of 4 and mineral oil as the number one ingredient. When it was applied, you skin looked tan due to the orange coloring in the lotion. And you'd be sticky for a while. The plus was that it felt WONDERFUL and you skin was sooooo soft afterwards. I have memories of swimming in Julie's pool while she and my mom reapplied Bain de Soleil, turning over when their timer dinged, indicating an hour had gone by.
Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil was also popular in the late seventies and early eighties. It featured a sunscreen of zero. Mineral oil, number one ingredient, the rest appears to be fragrance and additional moisturizers.
There was an aluminum, tanning blanket that increased the UV rays hitting your skin, allowing you to get a deeper tan in less time. And there were the three-fold reflectors made just to increase the UV rays to your face.
When I was reading Seventeen magazine, there was an article one summer featuring beautiful teenage girls in bikinis telling about their weekend at the beach, the photographer they met named Roger and tips for getting the same tan these girls were sporting. These tips included being sure to tan between ten a.m. and two p.m., when the tanning rays were at their strongest.
A tanning salon opened near our house in 1984. My mom went regularly and I'd go sometimes too. My mom's always at the head of the pack in the latest beauty procedure/service and tanning was no different. A tan looked great! Healthy! Like you'd been playing tennis!
I stopped tanning when I was eighteen, when I got the information sun would damage my skin and increase my chances of having skin cancer. I allow myself one day a year to lay out. That's it.
I just stay pale. I find self-tanner too much work. And getting my face all bronze would mean I'd have to replace all my foundations. Again, too much work! Pale, pinky skin goes better with red hair anyway.
But, since my mom has just gone through the unpleasant process of discovering a melanoma on her body and the resulting fear, doctor's appointments, stirrups, having her life disrupted and, today, surgery she's asked me to give you this message: Wear sunscreen! Don't tan! Wear sunscreen! Don't make me call you!
Trust me, you don't want my mom to have to call you. And I WILL give her your number.
Amanda's beauty tip of the day: Toners are completely unnecessary. If you have oily, breakout prone skin, you can use hydrogen peroxide before applying salicylic acid and a foundation with a SUNSCREEN. But toners are an extra step cosmetic companies recommend in order to help you give them more cash.