|thanks to PL for the leg modeling!|
This summer I've received some emails from readers asking for suggestions on how to get rid of tan lines from bicycle shorts. The women I ride with sometimes discuss this as well. Some say they actively try to cultivate cycling tan lines, seeing them as a source of pride and part of their identity as road cyclists. Others say they dislike tan lines, because they look unflattering when wearing skirts and bathing suits. For me, it's more about the attention they generate and feeling branded: I've had stares and questions from cyclists and non-cyclists alike that I'd rather avoid.
For those who do not wish to cultivate obvious cycling tan lines, one solution is to alternate bicycle shorts of different lengths. Assuming that you are not a racer who is required to ride in a specific kit, yet ride often enough to justify owning more than one pair of shorts, this method works pretty well. I now own three pairs of shorts, each from a different manufacturer: One hits just above the knee, the other half way up the thigh, and the third somewhere in between. I make sure to rotate them, while also doing my best to regularly apply sun screen. The result is a very gradual colour-fade from the knees up instead of a harsh tan line. The leg model above is sporting a similar look, though a little more crisp than mine.
If you've already got the tan lines and need to quickly get rid of them (say, for an event), try makeup. Buy liquid makeup in a shade that matches the tanned area and apply it to the untanned part - reducing the density as you move upward. A friend of mine did this when she had to wear a short bridesmaid's dress (the bride said the tan lines would ruin her wedding photos). It works, though will smear on the underside of your hem a bit. Spray tan would also work if you need the effect to last longer, though makeup tends to look more natural.
What's your take on tan lines from cycling shorts? Are you bothered by them, pleased by them, or does it not matter? I admit that I've identified other cyclists by their tan lines... though I try not to stare!