It is bikini season (or almost bikini season, at least) and despite all the warnings about sunbathing and tanning beds, once you step out on that beach in your cute new swimsuit and realize everyone is too distracted by your pasty white skin to notice how adorable you look, it’s hard to resist the urge to bake, even just a little bit. Instead of heading to the tanning salon, why not read through my list of 3 safe(r) ways to tan so you can get your glow on without having to worry about health problems down the line. Turns out there is such a thing as a healthy tan, and here’s how to get it:
The easiest, most comfortable, and cheapest solution would be to use good old-fashioned, store-bought self-tanning lotion. If you’ve had bad (read: orange-tastic) experiences in the past, give it another shot. The formulas have been improved dramatically in the last few years to reduce streaking and make the look more natural. To ensure your best results, choose a tanner that suits your natural skin tone. As much as you may want to look like you stepped off the set of Jersey Shore, if you’re natural skin shade registers around the “fish-belly white” side, then steer clear of the “deep tan” products and look for one that boasts a light, natural tan, or one that builds gradually as you use it. Try Famous Dave’s Fair Skin & Face Tanner or Aveeno Continuous Radiance. If you are lucky enough to have naturally more tan-coloured skin, go ahead and try the deeper products, like Clarin’s Self Tanning Instant Gel. Make sure you wash your body and exfoliate all over with a body scrub or natural sponge to remove any dead skin, dirt, or oil: this will ensure a smooth application to banish streaks. Once you have your self-tan as deep as you want it, you can help preserve it by mixing your self-tanner with body lotion and applying every other day.
2) Spray Tan
If the at-home process doesn’t work for you, you can still get the results you want from the tanning salon without having to climb into one of the tanning coffins they have in the back. Instead, find a salon that offers spray tanning, which works similar to self tanners but is misted on from head to toe in a quick and easy session. You’ll step into a special spray tan chamber naked (or in a bikini that you don’t mind getting ruined) and be gently sprayed head to toe. Some spray tanners require you to turn half way through, while other spray you from the front and the back. Wherever you go, explain that it is your first time and they’ll walk you through it. To take away any pre-tan jitters (since most of us aren’t used to the idea of being “sprayed” with things while standing in a “chamber”), why not check out a video, like this one, online that demonstrates the process—and don’t be afraid to ask questions at the salon, or mention that you’re nervous, the workers at the salon get it all the time and will help calm your nerves. To avoid even more surprises, be prepared to spend anywhere from $35-$50 for a single session, but most salons offer packages at a discount if you decide you like the look and want to maintain it for the summer or a special event. Remember to shower and exfoliate before your session, as most types of spray-tan require you to avoid showering for at least 8 hours after your application.
3) Lying Out
Okay, so lying out is obviously not a safe tanning option, but if you absolutely decide against the other options, there are steps you can take to make laying out in the sun at least safer. First, try to avoid going out during the peak hours of the day, between 11:00 and 2:00, when the sun’s rays are the strongest and can do more damage in a small amount of time. Second, be sure to apply a broad-spectrum sun block with at least an SPF 30 and reapply every hour. You’ll still get a tan, but this way you won’t also risk getting a burn. Focus on areas with thin skin, like the tops of your feet, your ears, face, chest, shoulders, and the tops of your thighs (ok pretty much your whole body) which burn more quickly than thicker, or less-exposed skin. Finally, remember to drink lots of water while you’re out in the sun, and limit your tanning session to 1-3 hours so you don’t risk dehydration—which can make your skin dry and prone to flakes. Although you should try to avoid lying out in the sun, if you decide to a couple times this summer, make sure you do it as sun-safely at possible. No amount of gorgeous golden skin is worth potential damage, illness, or even cancer.
What Do You Think?
Do you care about getting a tan this summer? What is your preferred method of sunless tanning? Any steps I missed? Leave a comment and let me know!