Nicola from Girls Aloud and I have something in common..
No, not our bank balances or slender thighs - a decade of continental cheese abuse saw that one slip away from me - but our skin.
Pasty.. Milky.. When it comes to the colour of my skin I've honestly heard them all. In some circles I'm actually referred to as Snow White, so believe me when I say I'm pale. Not 'cute, emo pop star' pale, I mean vampire-like. You know, basically see-through.
Not only do I not tan, I have to be ridiculously careful out in the sun. A lunchtime stroll in April can leave me looking pink, I don't remember the last time I didn't have a vat of SPF 50 sun cream within a metre radius of me, and I've even taken to holidaying outside of the summer months in the depressing hope that I can avoid burning my sensitive skin. I have more freckles and moles than I can count without the aid of a calculator.. Anyway, I think you get the picture.
I know what you're thinking - just stay out of the sun. But I LOVE the sunshine. It makes me happy and feels (at least for 10 minutes) lovely on my skin. I know it's bad for me, but I want it.. It's like being a 16 year old girl around bad boys for the first time again.
For years I've been bogged down with the fact that I can't tan despite having dark hair and green eyes. It's not for lack of trying - quite the opposite actually - but I just don't. In fact, I'm one of those unfortunate people that finds their skin turning various shades of red, purple or white, but never, ever brown.
Actually, I don't think I could hand on heart say I've ever even managed a light beige, but today I'm proud and relieved I can say that.
As a health and beauty writer I'm aware of the importance of taking care of my skin, so I was horrified to see the national figures showing cases of skin cancer have doubled in the last 5 years. This has been blamed largely on 'vanity tanning' thanks to celebrities and shows such as The Only Way is Essex, and exotic holidays being more affordable and accessible.
In case you've not seen the report, a study by Public Health England has revealed the number of people admitted to hospital for non melanoma skin cancer and malignant melanoma jumped from 87,685 to 123,808 between 2007 and 2011. Equating to a surge of 41 per cent - not including skin cancer sufferers who were treated as day patients - these statistics serve as a kick up the backside for anyone that assumes because they tan they're safe.
Did you know that a tan is actually your body's way of showing you it can't take anymore sun exposure? It's damaged and needs a break. Didn't tell you that on The O.C when you were a teenager, right?
I was speaking to a dermatologist just this morning who offered me some great advice. Dr Hudson-Peacock, a skin expert from Canterbury Skin and Laser Clinic, reminded me that skin cancer can be found anywhere on the face and body so it's really important you get a full check up as soon as you see any changes.
As he pointed out, most sun care advice is so easy-to-follow but so many of us take things like sun cream for granted, leaving us exposed to the dangerous rays like UVA and UVB. The team here at COSMETIC mag, myself more than anyone else, are encouraging anyone concerned about changes to their skin to visit a skin specialist for a check up. Be savvy with your skin and treat it well - wear an SPF of 20 or more on your face all year round and take extra care to reapply sun cream whilst on holiday.
You don't want to be one of the statistics, surely? I for one am going to embrace my ivory skin in light of this report. I never thought I'd be pleased to say this but: I'M PALE AND PROUD!
Treat yourself to some SPF and enjoy the last of the warm weather responsibly. Your fate is in your hands only.