Sunburn is no laughing matter
If you get seriously sunburnt twice before the age of 18 you double your risks of getting skin cancer.

Boom.

I read that stat again this week and guiltily remembered that holiday I spent in Greece when I was 17.

Blessed as I am with an, um, English rose complexion (one local man was so shocked by my paleness he came up to me on the beach and asked why I ‘look like that') beach holidays have always been a challenge.

That year though I decided I'd had enough of seeing women around me in their bikinis looking tanned, toned and bloody terrific.

No, this time I was going to take action.

So I devised a plan. Obviously I knew that I burnt easily. But I decided that if I just laid out in the AFTERNOON sun, when the rays were less severe, I would instead get the sun-kissed legs I so desired.

I ended up with such severe sunburn on my shins I required medical treatment.

A disapproving doctor prescribed me with burns cream for my blood-red raw legs and I remember at one gruesome point peeling the top layer of skin off each leg in one long patch.

I spent the rest of the holiday sitting in my hotel room sobbing in agony and self-pity.

I still have scars on my shins to remind me how stupid I was - not to mention the emotional scars from when my furious mum found out what I'd done to myself.

I'm not alone though. 

Everyone with my complexion has a sunburn ‘war story'. And the older I get, and the more I hear about the dangers of skin cancer, the more careful I am.

It's now a bit of a joke with friends that when I return from holidays - and my fake tan has worn off - I actually look paler than when I left.

Skin cancer isn't a laughing matter though. It's now the second most common cancer in young people.

 

With this in mind, this summer Now magazine has launched our Smart Girls Fake It campaign.

We're travelling around the country, in association with The MOLE Clinic and Fake Bake offering readers a free mole check and fake tan.

On our first stop in Glasgow one woman told us how delighted she was that we were doing this. She used to use a sun bed every day.

At the age of 30 she went to the doctor, worried about a mole on her back, and was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. She has since had to get 11 moles removed and have plastic surgery on her back.

She is lucky to still be alive.

1,800 people in the UK will die from melanoma this year - and 80 to 90 per cent of cases are associated with sun exposure.

I know I'm not going to get sun burnt AT ALL when I head off on my hols this year.

Are you?

• The Now magazine Smart Girls Fake It roadshow is coming to a city near you. Come and join us for a FREE mole check and fake tan*. We'll be at the Fake Bake salon at Manchester's Selfridges from 10am to 4pm this Saturday (11 August). For more details click here.

*Subject to availability, get there early!

PICTURES Stars show chat to Now at our Smart Girls Fake It launch party

PICTURES Fake It! Now's guide to the best home fake tan products

Now launches Smart Girls Fake It campaign