So many of you out there are probably aware of the dangers of tanning beds. However, I suspect that many of you also think that if you don't use them often or only use them to get your "base tan" that you will be safe. Wrong on both counts. First of all, the concept of building yourself a "base tan" so that you won't get burned will at best give you a SPF of 4. Which in terms of sun exposure is practically nothing. You might as well be unprotected. Secondly, your skin accumulates damage. So it doesn't matter if you are outside unprotected 5 min here/5 mins there while running errands, or at the beach unprotected for 45. Your skin collects this damage. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that these newer high pressure tanning beds that tout about not "burning" your skin, are seriously misleading. They work by filtering out most of the UVB rays that burn your epidermis (outer layer of skin), but give you a more powerful blast of UVA rays which also burn, but on a much deeper, less detectable level. Burning, as a matter of fact, is our body's way of warning us that we have had too much UV exposure. With out that visible alarm, we may sustain higher levels of damage with out even being aware, and of course this damage is inherently what takes away from our youthful appearance. Loss of elasticity/tone, skin discolorations, wrinkles, and in a rising number of super scary cases, skin cancer.
But why bake when you can fake? Why take the risk if you don't have too? There are plenty of of products that will give you that perfect glow and the technology behind these self tanners is improving every year! With these few tips in your back pocket you will be on your way to a new bronzed beauty you, and far away from looking like this orange Umpa Lumpa.
First things first. You need to prepare your skin. The dry wintry weather has undoubtedly left your skin parched, so I always recommend using an exfoliating scrub to smooth (paying special attention to knees and elbows), and following up with a great moisturizer. I recommend hydrating for a few days before your initial application of self tanner for best results. Need some pointers/recommendations? View my previous post. Smooth, well hydrated skin will give you a more even application and give you less of an opportunity for unsightly streaking.
For lotion/foam/gel applications:
1. Layer! Do not do a heavy application to start. Do a light application and layer to achieve the desired depth of color. (Especially important if you are fair skinned!)
2. If you are very fair or skittish, mix a bit of body moisturizer (in your hand) with your self tanner to dilute it.
3. Apply a very light layer of moisturizer to your knees, ankles, and elbows just prior to application. These areas tend to have dryer/thicker skin and are prone to absorbing more product.
4. Work in small sections and work fast. Divide your body into sections and do one at a time to ensure even coverage. (ie. lower leg, upper leg, lower arm, upper arm etc.) Work quickly so the product doesn't sit in any one area longer then another giving an uneven appearance.
5. Brown hands? Put a layer of sunscreen on them before you start. This will help keep the sunless tanner from absorbing into the skin so quickly. Additionally, I always have a pumice stone by the sink and use it on my palms with warm soapy water.
6. Refrain from or limit the use of self tanners on the face. Unless you are really experienced at self tanning and don't have sensitive skin, I wouldn't. Additionally, many women who exercise proper skin care are most likely using products on their faces that are made to exfoliate. This means that the color on your face will end up fading much faster then that of your body and you will need to reapply daily to keep up. I would just pick up a stellar bronzing powder and use that instead. It will give you a much more natural finish anyway, (unless you are going to be frolicking in the H2O), then I would pick up a sunless product made specifically for the face. Just be warned, as DHA (the active ingredient in sunless tanners) can cause breakouts.
Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel ($32)
Bare Escentuals Faux Tan Gel ($22)
Neutrogena Sun Fresh Sunless Foam ($10) (Ulta is offering $3.50 off any $10 purchase right now!)
After achieving your perfect tan, make sure to extend the life of it by keeping up with daily applications of body lotion. Also, I recommend using a moisturizer that is advertised to give you "gradual color" in between full color applications. These are basically just lotions that contain small amounts of self tanner. Because they have less, you don't have to be so careful and it will help to maintain your color while keeping you hydrated. WIN WIN!