Head to head: Beyond the pale

Has the fake winter tan had its day? Eve Pollard says at her age she needs all the help she can get, while Magenta Devine steers clear of the leather look

Pro-fake winter tans

"A tan hides a multitude of sins - and believe me at my age I know. As you get older, you get more wrinkles and it all goes south so you need any help you can get. A tan makes your eyes look brighter and your teeth look whiter and I definitely think your hands look nicer. You look healthier and fitter, and there are certain sorts of clothes that look nicer on, as well. In England, especially in the winter, you see these people who are a sort of purple-white. No matter how cold it is, they wear short skirts and their legs seem to fluoresce. They'd certainly look better with a bit more colour.

There are a few men who are pale and it suits them. But there are very few women who look pale and interesting. When you see a pale woman you tend to think, `She needs a good sleep or a few days at a health farm.' If you're not careful, you can end up looking like a Goth. And if you're off on a winter holiday, you don't want to wander on to the beach looking like a stick of celery.

Of course, you have to be careful, and I use fake tan on my face - Joan Collins says don't tan your face, just your body and that's what I do. If you're sensible, you can reduce the health risks, and I think there are probably health advantages from feeling happier about yourself when tanned. I don't like really dark tans. You don't have to look like George Hamilton - I just like to have a nice, light golden tan all year round and I feel much better for it."

Eve Pollard is a broadcaster and author. Her book `Unfinished Business', with Joyce Hopkirk and Val Corbett, has just been published (Headline, pounds 16.99)

Anti-fake winter tans

"Tans look nice - on people who are naturally tanned. They look great on olive-skinned people from southern Italy or lithe Brazilian teenagers kicking balls around on Copacabana beach. But that's what they are: tans, not oranges or maroons or colours in between. When pale Brits go for serious tans, especially the all-year-round permatans, that's where the problems start. It's not convincing; hot-house tans don't look the same. I have pale skin and I just have to accept it. That doesn't mean I avoid the sun, I just don't like cooking myself.

Anyway, people who are pale can look attractive. Pale doesn't necessarily mean sickly. No one would accuse Madonna of looking unhealthy. It depends largely on what your hair's like and what clothes you wear. All that time spent under the sunbed and the wrinkles are mounting up. And just a few years into the future you're going to be like a walking sales item from World of Leather.

You get that certain type of person who's permatanned: the old vamp who should have put the short skirt away years ago, and the ageing Lothario with the gold Rolex and loafers who stands around the beach with his thong pulled up under his armpits. Being pale might not be interesting but it beats turning into a relief map of the Himalayas. It's a curious sort of vanity that requires so much effort to ultimately ruin your appearance."

Magenta Devine is UN special ambassador for women, produces investigative reports for `Brian Hayes on Sunday' on Radio 5 Live and presents BBC World's new film series beginning in January

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