Yes, being pale is making a comeback, and I personally love my porcelain skin. (Yes, it’s porcelain. I get red and blistered just by looking at the sun.) However, there is something about having a tan in the summertime that still appeals to me. It’s definitely my vanity speaking here, but I always feel better when I’ve got the perfect golden glow. However, laying around all day in the sun is an incredibly BAD IDEA, even with sunscreen. Trust me, skin cancer is not pretty.
So, how do we get a nice natural looking tan that makes us look and feel like we’ve spent a weekend on the beaches in Nice or Thailand without having to get areas of our skin singed off when we’re old and leathery? Well obviously we fake it.
Faux tanning is not the easiest thing in the world. It can be messy, difficult to get just right, and occasionally leave us the wonderful orange shade of an Oompa-Loompa. If you’re as pale as me I’m sure you’ve already had your fair share of encounters with looking like you rolled around in a bowl of Doritos. However, don’t lose heart. Today I’ll acquaint you with some of my tanning advice so that you don’t have to go through the same mistakes I did.
First, there are three types of commonly available fake tanning methods. Each has their highs and lows, and one I just don’t recommend trying. But here we go:
1. Professional Spray Tan / Mystic Tan
These tans have a lot of wonderful qualities about them. They’re relatively fast, definitely easy, and deliver an even color. I’ve never personally tried them, but plenty of my friends swear by them. However, they only last about a week, can fade in an odd scaled manner, and you never know exactly what color they’ll turn out. Personally, I would avoid them at all costs if you have light skin – I’ve had three friends who turned ridiculously orange after a spray tan. However, they can look great on people who naturally have a hint of color in their skintone.
2. Tanning Lotion / Mousse
This is my preferred method of tanning. They come in three forms – a gradual tan that builds over the course of a few weeks, and instant tan that gives you color immediately, and an in-between that develops in 6 to 8 hours. I’d avoid the instant tan unless you know what you’re doing since they streak easily. Gradually developing lotions are a great choice if you’re wanting something that looks natural, however they take a while and you have to be diligent in application. My personal recommendation for a gradual tanning lotion is Jergens Natural Glow Revitalizing Daily Moisturizer. Its gives the most natural color of all the gradual tanners I’ve tried and doesn’t smell too bad (there is a bit of an odor but it fades after a few hours).
However, I’m extremely impatient and don’t want to wait 2 or 3 weeks to look like a bronzed goddess. So, I opt for my favorite tanning product – Tarte Brazilliance Skin Rejuvinating Marajuaca Face and Body Self Tanner. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive but it delivers a wonderfully natural color in just 8 hours (I put it on before I go to bed) and smells like chocolate and walnuts. Yes, it’s divine! I’m slightly obsessed. It comes with a tanning mitt too, which is essential for even application. I personally swear by this tanner, as it’s the only one that’s been pleasant for me to use and delivers a natural looking color. I TOTALLY RECOMMEND THIS PRODUCT! Try it, if you don’t like it you can always return it.
3. At Home Tanning Spray
Just don’t do it. Unless you want to look like a streaky mess. There are much easier ways to tan that will get you significantly better results.
So, now that you know what products to use, let’s talk a bit about tanning preparation and maintenance. You spent all this time and money and energy getting the perfect tan, you want it to last!
- EXFOLIATE EXFOLIATE EXFOLIATE! Before you apply your tanning product take a shower. Shave, use a gritty body scrub, and end by cleansing with a loofah or body brush. Be sure to spend extra time on elbows, knees, and ankles.
- MOISTURIZE! After you get out of the shower apply a thick, creamy moisturizer (or even vaseline) to your elbows, knees, and ankles. If there are other areas where you notice your tan collects – for me it’s my cleavage and around my neck – use a lighter lotion to moisturize these areas. The goal with moisturizing is to create a barrier between the skin and the tanner so that it develops into a lighter color that better matches the rest of your skin. (If you’re using a gradually developing tanning lotion and are afraid it will go orange you can also moisturize everywhere.)
- Avoid sweating, showering, or swimming for at LEAST 8 hours after tanning (and up to 24). I personally suggest tanning right before bed so that your color develops while you sleep. Just be careful not to use white sheets, since some of the color is likely to transfer – although in my experience it washes out in the laundry without a problem.
- Use a gentle (non-soap, if possible) body wash when you shower. Bar soap and strong body washes are not only harsh on your skin, they can cause your tan to fade a lot faster. Also, don’t be afraid to lightly exfoliate. Yes, it will cause your tan to fade a bit, but it will keep it from fading in a splotchy manner, which is worse than being pale.
- Moisturize, again. What’s the point of being tan if your skin looks dull and scaly. The whole point of fake tanning is to get a bronze GLOW after all. So use a lightweight moisturizer, or moisturizing spray (I love Vaseline Spray and Go) every day.
So there you have it, how to look tan and radiant all summer long – without getting cancer. What more can you ask for?! And remember: