Melanie Morris: I take it all back, Cheryl, we do need fake tan
Cheryl Cole, I take it all back. Last October, on the night of the first live X Factor shows, I jeered at her spray-tanned skin.
I laughed, tweeted and wrote about how out-of-step she looked. How passe! How ridiculous. Lord, who was advising Cheryl backstage there -- didn't she know that pale was in? That bronzed skin was now only for chavs?
We, the stylish set, had all thrown out our fake tan months ago and celebrated the fact that we were no longer afflicted by the three S's ... stink, stain, streak.
Well, Cheryl, you were right. And her Cheddar-hued image flashed in front of my mind's eye last Friday morning when I called over to my parents.
"You look exhausted," said my father as he opened the door. "Are you all right?"
"Er, yeah," I mumbled. "I just don't have any fake tan on my face." The resulting January pallor was obviously unflattering.
So I went and did something I hadn't done since 2008. I made a bee-line for Carter Beauty in Blackrock and got me a spray tan.
And do you know what? I felt instantly better. I may not be on the cutting edge of fashion, but the boost this new warm skin shade has given me is quite phenomenal.
I feel like a previously drab telly that someone has just upped the contrast on. Okay, I may be unseasonally golden, but my face looks warmer, I look healthier and, I'm afraid it's true what they say, a tan does have a slimming effect.
So, I'm a reconverted tanorexic. I've been Tango'd and I'm thrilled with the results. My January blues have just adopted a far more sunny disposition.
No, I haven't gone as Dorito orange as something off My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
As I stepped into the treatment room, the therapist discussed shade with me. It seems things have come a long way since my previous spray-tanning days and you can adjust the dial quite nicely.
I also learned that I'm not alone in my return to the dark side. Apparently lots of girls (and a few blokes too, but that's another story) are sick of their transparent, mottled, winter bodies and going for gold all over again.
And it makes sense. A little like Estee Lauder's Lipstick Index, a theory that lipstick sales increase in times of recession (because they're affordable little bits of luxury), fake tans could be our way of "putting on a happy face" in these miserable, gloomy times.
We're probably all trying to subconsciously cheer ourselves up. We want to see a bit of positivity, and where better to start that with ourselves? And that's obviously what Cheryl was trying to do last autumn, in the dark days following her divorce from Ashley.
In the crazy, heady days -- and nights -- of the Celtic Tiger, Tanning Thursdays were legendary. Whether doing it yourself, or heading to a salon, almost every woman in the country would spend the evening preparing themselves, and their skin, for the weekend ahead.
Because, as we tanimals know, a decent fake tan will last three or four days, so Thursday night was optimum anointing time.
As the reality of our credit-crunched situation dawns (er, January paycheck anyone?), I predict a return to Tanning Thursdays.
Salons are doing incredible deals right now, or if you're more cash-strapped, an evening spent in latex gloves rubbing yourself all over is far more uplifting than a night in front of the nine o'clock news.
Go on, try it.
Become a golden girl this week, and feel the boost for yourself.
Melanie Morris is editor of Image magazine