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In perhaps the healthiest, quietest evolution of the beauty and celebrity worlds, paleness has replaced golden tans as the skin du jour. Pale starlets like Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett used to be the exception; now they are the rule. Just look at some of the top young actresses of the moment, Emma Stone and Kristen Stewart, whose fair skin must be slathered in sunblock before facing daylight. As far back as 2010, the fashion industry started to proclaim that pale was in. In February of that year, Fashioneer reported that Marc Jacobs searched for models who resembled fair-skinned Jamie Bochert. Skin brightening creams, promising to remove sunspots, are replacing self-tanners on drug store shelves, and the first step on every recommended skin care regime is “apply sunscreen.”
We may be able to thank the vampire craze for fair skin’s popularity. Vampires, being undead and having no blood of their own to give them a healthy glow, are typically portrayed as pale. Just think, the popularity of Twilight and True Blood may have helped to end the orangeness. Fair skin is sexy on more than just vampires. The Daily Mail reports that a study from the University of Toronto found that men are attracted to fairer-skinned women in all races due to a perceived connection with innocence and purity.
Even former sun-kissed beauties have skipped the spray tan and are keeping it natural this summer. Nicole Ritchie would have never been seen without a dark tan when she was BFFs with Paris Hilton, but now the chic fashion designer and television personality is sporting a much more natural glow. Bear in mind, the pale trend doesn’t necessarily mean pasty white; it means a natural skin color.
Celebrities still sporting orange-y tans are mostly B-listers. Jersey Shore’s Snooki and J-Woww count tanning among their regular activities; it’s the “T” in “GTL” chore list (gym, tan, laundry.) Former Danity Kane singer and Celebrity Apprentice contestant Aubrey O’Day was a deep shade of orange while wearing a revealing bathing suit in Vegas last week, turning heads with the brash look. An exception to the tan-is-out trend seems to be buff male stars (like the cast of Magic Mike), but many young stars like Robert Pattinson are keeping it natural.
Over the years, much more attention has been placed on sun protection and on photos and stories of the effects of skin cancer. Lately there’s been a backlash against over-tanning. Kyle Tromblee started a blog called Pale Is the New Tan, where he collects photos and news stories of terrible tans and photos of people looking orange. The media attention surrounding Patricia Krencel, also known as Tan Mom, has all been negative. It’s as if seeing Tan Mom suddenly made the public realize how bad the obsession with tanning really got. Christina Aguilera’s spray tan mishap as seen at Etta James’ funeral served as a warning to anyone considering a faux glow: a streak of dark self-tanner running down her leg received more attention than Aguilera’s moving performance.
This summer, take a cue from celebrities and fashion designers and put on the sunblock, no matter what your natural skin tone is. Not only will you be in style, you will prevent skin cancer, premature aging, and the pain of a sunburn. Nothing clashes with the season’s cute summer styles like awkward tan lines or an Oompa-Loompa hue, so keep it natural.