Dear Fashion Police: It's summer, shorts and tank top season, and here I am with absolutely no tan. I just cannot sit in the sun anymore. I've had so many skin cancers removed, I've lost count. Can you tell me if you've found a self-tanner that makes your skin a natural-looking tan?
BY THE MINUTE
Dear Pale: We certainly hope that after numerous skin cancer removals you've finally given up your sun worshiping ways. You should have done it after your first one, but we're not going to do any retroactive nagging today.
There are tons of self-tanners on the market, and although we've never tried them, results can vary widely from person to person. One product may turn you the color of a mango, and the next person a nice nut brown. Most only last two to three days, so you must keep applying the tanners if you want to maintain the color.
Some things to keep in mind if you do want to try a self-tanner: Test the cream on a small patch of skin first to see if you're allergic. If everything's OK, exfoliate your skin with a loofah or body scrub. Rough patches may cause the color to concentrate or streak. Apply the tanner using rubber gloves so you won't stain your hands. Most products recommend you not shower for 24 hours to let the color set.
Remember that self-tanners will not prevent you from burning and won't filter out harmful UVA and UVB rays, so if you're out in the sun, be sure to wear sunscreen.
But frankly, instead of worrying about paleness you should be thinking about covering up. Because of your history, you're at great risk for more serious skin damage, and exposing your flesh is the last thing you should do.
Do you know about sun protective clothing? Several companies now offer clothes that act as a sunscreen, some blocking out almost all UVA and UVB rays. Sun Precautions, in Everett, Wash., uses a fabric called Solumbra, a nylon-based textile with an extremely tight weave that blocks 97% of rays. They offer men's and women's shirts, pants, hats, gloves, jackets, plus skirts for women, in a range of colors and styles (They also carry children's clothes). Find them on the Web at http://www.sunprecautions.com, or you can call for a catalog at (800) 882-7860.
Other catalogs carry some sun protective clothing. L.L. Bean, at (800) 441-5713, TravelSmith, at (800) 995-7010, and Orvis, at (800) 635-7635, stock a few pieces (shirts, pants) for men and women in their summer catalogs.
If you're on the Internet, do a search under "sun protection clothing" and you'll find more companies offering such clothes for men, women and children.
Dear Fashion Police: When I was taught how to sew, I was told that when you work with a piece of material that has a nap (those little tiny threads that make up the pile of the fabric) it should always go in the same direction, which is down. This year, and in past years, I have wanted to buy a velvet blazer and a velvet dress. But as I look at them hanging on the racks with the nap going upward, I noticed that all the lint was caught in the nap. How can any woman wear these and still look neat? I have observed that the color is richer when you look at it in the wrong direction (up), but that's no reason to go against the grain.
--TAKING A NAP
Dear Taking: We learned the same rule about the direction of the nap when we were learning how to sew, but that was so very long ago . . . when clothes were better made, with more attention to detail.
Today it's all about the bottom line. Manufacturers producing clothes in mid-price ranges may trim costs by cutting pattern pieces as economically as possible, meaning the nap could go every which way. That's one reason designer fashions are more expensive--they must use more fabric to do things such as match patterns or have the threads that make up the velvet all go in one direction.
We have two suggestions: Buy better clothes, or haul out that sewing machine again.
From the Fashion Police Blotter: You may not be thinking about back-to-school shopping yet, but too bad. We're going to make you think about it. We still need to hear from you about your best and worst back-to-school shopping experiences. Are you a dad who takes your teenage son to the mall, only to be aghast at those baggy pants he chooses? Are you a kid who dreads shopping because it's hard to find clothes in your size? Let us know. Share. We're here for you.
Write to Fashion Police, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, fax to (213) 237-4888, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.