A. Janet, first off let me commend you for wanting to get a tan the healthy way. While we are more educated today than ever before about the perils that the sun and tanning beds can do to our skin –including skin cancer, wrinkles and brown spots – many people still want that sun-kissed look. Isn’t it quite the oxymoron when a tan is called “healthy looking” when in fact it is visible damage to your skin? A tan, not just a sunburn, is your skin in trauma trying to protect itself. Did you know that it was in 1929 that Coco Chanel made tanned skin in fashion? The good news is today there are many alternatives to achieve that same look without the damage and without the worry of looking like an Oompa Loompa. Follow these easy steps, Janet, and in no time you will have a natural and healthy looking glow.
- Choose Wisely: Not all self tanning lotions are created equal. Many people who tried them when they first hit the market in the 1960s vowed to never try them again because of the orange color and streaky appearance. Sunless tanners have come a long way since then allowing a much more natural look free of streaks and an awful smell. When selecting your sunless tanner Janet, look for one that builds color gradually and is only a shade or two darker than your skin tone or even better one that adjusts to your own color.
- Exfoliate: Once you have selected your sunless tanner, the most important step is to exfoliate your skin. Just like you prime a wall before you paint it to help the paint go on smoother and last longer, so should you prepare your body for the sunless tanner. If you don’t exfoliate off the dead skin cells first, your tan will not go on evenly and as you naturally lose some of your skin cells your tan will look uneven. Be sure to especially exfoliate drier areas such as your elbows, knees, knuckles and feet.
- Protect & Apply: Once you’re dry it’s time to get tanning. I recommend you apply some Vaseline on your fingernails and toenails to keep the lotion from staining them. There are many differing opinions on whether to work your way from bottom to top or top to bottom. Whichever way you choose, when you are finished buff your elbows, knees, knuckles and feet with a washcloth to help ensure the color does not become too dark in those areas. Be sure to immediately wash your hands so your palms do not turn tan as well. It is best to let yourself dry for about 15 minutes before getting dressed.
Don’t be afraid to try a sunless tanner this summer, Janet. It is one of the easiest and safest ways to get that golden look you desire. If you have any further questions about sunless tanner, I recommend you talk with a professional makeup artist. Just remember that you will still need to wear and SPF 30 every day as no tan – real or fake – offers you protection from the sun.