Naked Skin, Tanning and Tan Lines

There’s a strong wind blowing today, here in Corozal, and the clouds are rolling by at a fairly fast pace allowing the sun to shine for just minutes at a time – not the best kind of weather for basking in the sun to turn darker and darker shades of bronze. Still, in spite of the clouds, the UV index stands at 9. I took this chart from Wikipedia for your reference.

UV Index Description Color Recommended Protection
0–2 Low danger Green Wear sunglasses on bright days; use sunscreen if there is snow on the ground, which reflects UV radiation, or if you have particularly fair skin.
3–5 Moderate risk of harm Yellow Take precautions, such as covering up, if you will be outside.Stay in shade near midday when the sun is strongest.
6–7 High risk of harm Orange Wear sunglasses and use SPF 30+ sunscreen, cover the body with sun protective clothing and a wide-brim hat, and reduce time in the sun from three hours before to three hours after solar noon
8–10 Very high risk of harm Red Wear SPF 30+ sunscreen, a shirt, sunglasses, and a hat. Do not stay out in the sun for too long.
11+ Extreme risk of harm Violet Take all precautions, including: wear sunglasses and use SPF 30+ sunscreen, cover the body with a long-sleeve shirt and trousers, wear a very broad hat, and avoid the sun from three hours before until three hours after solar noon

I have to admit that I am not following these guidelines at this point in time. That said, I did use sunscreen conscientiously for the first week in Mexico in January. It wasn’t long however before sunscreen protection became a matter of covering my nose which has a tendency to get too much sun – perhaps it has to do with the size of my nose. As for covering up with clothing, well that would sort of defeat the purpose of sunbathing and being a naturist. I do wear my glasses which have polarising lenses so as to serve as sunglasses as well. I also use a ball cap when trying to read while laying in the sun, or even as a face screen when simply laying face up in the sunshine. More from Wikipedia on skin type and sun:

Type          Also called Sunburning Tanning behavior von Luschan scale
I Very light or pale, “Celtic” type[11] Often Occasionally 1–5
II Light or light-skinned European[11] Usually Sometimes 6–10
III Light intermediate or dark-skinned European[11] Rarely Usually 11–15
IV Dark intermediate, also “Mediterranean” or “olive skin[11] Rarely Often 16–21
V Dark or “brown” type No Sometimes darkens 22–28
VI Very dark or “black” type No Naturally black-brown skin 29–36

I am one of the lucky ones somewhere between type III and type IV. Because I am one of the lucky ones, and because I take advantage of going unclothed when the opportunity presents, I am able to avoid having a “farmer’s tan,” tan lines. During the spring and summer in Canada, where the opportunities almost fully disappear, I become one of those who have “farmer’s tans.” My lower legs, my arms, my neck and face and the spaces open to the sun on my sandals create interesting patters of lighter shades of brown. The past few years since retirement, I have been able to find a few hours of privacy that allows my farmer’s tan to be less distinct.

Now, for a final quote from Wikipedia on tanning:

“The wearing of clothing while tanning results in creation of tan lines, which many people regard as un-aesthetic and embarrassing. Many people desire to avoid creation of tan lines on those parts of the body which will be visible when they are fully clothed. Some people try to achieve an all-over tan or to maximize their tan coverage. To achieve an all-over tan, the tanner needs to dispense with clothing; and to maximize covering, they need to minimize the amount of clothing they wear while tanning. For those women who cannot dispense with a swimsuit, they at times tan with the back strap undone while lying on the front, or removing shoulder straps, besides wearing swimsuits which cover less area than their normal clothing. Any exposure is subject to local community standards and personal choice. Some people tan in the privacy of their backyard where they can at times tan without clothes, and some countries have set aside clothing-optional swimming areas (also known as nude beaches), where people can tan and swim clothes-free. Some people tan topless, and others wear very brief swimwear, such as a microkini. A recent innovation is tan-through swimwear, which uses fabric which is perforated with thousands of micro holes that are nearly invisible to the naked eye, but which let enough sunlight through to produce a line-free tan. Tan-through swimsuits offer SPF protection of about 6, and an application of full-strength sunscreen even to the covered area is recommended.”

Hmmm.  I think I will have to find out more about the tan-through swimwear for those times and places where swimming in the buff is verboten. Somehow, at my age and my gender, I don’t think a microkini is going to cut it. I will have to stick to the much maligned Speedos if I have to wear a swimsuit, or my rarely used swim trunks for swimming in more conservative places such as the beaches in Saskatchewan.

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