Sunday, May 10, 2009

Beautiful Summer Skin – Hold the UV Rays

Every summer I am faced with a predicament: to tan or not to tan? I crave that golden tan look but I also know that UV rays cause wrinkles and skin cancer – both of which I am sure we all want to avoid.

photo credit: evilerin

I am very fair and I don’t tan in the sun very well even if I wanted to so I have spent many a summer trying to embrace my glow-in-the-dark white skin but honestly I feel like pale skin is only suitable for winter (but that is just me). Needless to say, with my wanting to be a tan beauty and my reluctance to lay out or use a tanning bed, I have tried a multitude of self tanners – both good and bad – and I am here to report back to you because these days no one needs to be damaging their skin when there are such great alternatives.

My top five self tanners:

  1. O2 Cosmetics Tanning Mist $9.99 – this is the best self tanner that I have used to date. It is easy to apply and the tan develops quickly and the self tanner smell is very minimal. The tan lasts about a week in my experience so if you want to have a constant tan I would apply twice a week or so, or maybe more if you want a deeper tan. TIP: This tanner is meant to be used with an airbrush system but I was cheap and didn’t want to spend that kind of money so I bought a small spray bottle from Target and some latex gloves (you will want these, this stuff sticks to skin well and tan hands are no good) and I simply sprayed the tan on with the spray bottle and rubbed it in evenly with the gloved hand.
  2. Lancôme Flash Bronzer $28.00 – This one is a little bit more expensive but it worked nicely. It made the list because it is very hydrating and this is a plus for me because of my chronic dry skin. It also gives a nice “pre-tan” while the tanner actually develops on the skin which is also a plus.
  3. Jergens Natural Glow Daily $7.99 – This is a gradual tanner lotion, you use it daily and over a week you develop a nice tan. I liked this product a lot as far as the results go but I was more of the ‘I want it now’ customer and I didn’t want to have to worry with putting a lotion on evenly every day. If you don’t mind the daily thing then I would recommend this one.
  4. L'Oreal Sublime Sublime Bronze Airbrush $ 9.99 – This self tanner is a spray on variety and provided pretty even coverage. The color was beautiful and it lasted about a week. The cons to this one are that it was a little messy. I used it in my shower but the spray would accidently get my arm or my foot or somewhere I was not meaning it to go. That is probably just error on my part though. If you are used to spray on airbrush style then this might be the way to go!
  5. Neutrogena Body Glow Moisturizer $9.49 – I was very excited to try this one out because I love Neutrogena products and this tanner lived up to my expectations of the brand. Once again though it was a gradual tanner and that is too much work in my opinion – and there was the self tanner smell of course. The main con of this product is that whenever the tan started fading I got streaky – no good.

Now that you have a self tanner you have to know how to put it on. This involved a lot of trial and error on my part – lots of streaky legs and arms and splotches and things that can definitely be avoided. In my experience with self tanners I have come up with a set of guidelines that keep my tans from getting wonky.

  • Before you do anything, exfoliate! This is the absolute best advice that I can give you. Self tanners stick to dry and dead skin more than moisturized skin (and although that may sound like a good thing, it isn’t) and so the result will be streaks. Even if you don’t think you have dry skin, exfoliate.
  • Make sure that you shave before you tan. Shaving afterward will decrease the life of your tan because it is a way of exfoliating, believe it or not.
  • When applying tanner separate your body into sections: left arm, right arm, front of stomach, etc. This will help to keep your tan even and help you to not miss any spots because you have only a small section to focus on instead of your whole body.
  • Use tanner sparingly on elbows and knees and any other spot on your body where the skin may be rougher or thicker.
  • Rub a very thin layer of regular lotion over your knees or elbows if they are severely dry before you tan.
  • Asking for help for your back may be your best bet.
  • Remember to wait to dress until the tanner has dried as to not ruin your clothes or your developing tan.
  • Don’t get wet or do anything that will have you sweating for at least 3 hours after you apply your tanner because this could cause either streaking or tan fading.
  • If you are not using gloves, wash your hands periodically during the process so that the tanner does not get the opportunity to soak into your palms – tan palms are a dead giveaway.

Now you have your tanner and you know how to apply it but what happens if you make a little mistake? It has happened to me and no, you do not have to walk around in summer in long sleeves and pants (I’ve tried it – not fun). Here are a few ways to either fix the streak and splotches or decrease the tan.

  • First try to shower – sometimes the streakiness is not what it seems. It may just be the tanner that is uneven, not the actual tan.
  • Use a loofah to bathe. This will provide a little bit of exfoliation and may even out a small mistake.
  • Use a body scrub on areas that are a little but more noticeable.
  • If you are using a gradual tanner then you are at an advantage because often, since it is gradual, the application of the lotion for a few more days will get your tan all evened out.
  • Use an astringent or alcohol to dab on darker spots – this will significantly lighten them up.
  • Apply baking soda to a wet rag and gently exfoliate the messed up areas.
  • Try Flavours Freedom Sunless Eraser: it is meant for this exact thing.

So there you have your fake, but safe tan! Of course there are always tanning salons that provide fake tan services but I prefer to do it myself – whichever method floats your boat. That is not the end of it though – simply switching to self tanners is only one step in keeping your skin safe from UV rays.

So how do you protect your skin? It is just goofy to say that you are going to stay out of the sun this summer because after all isn’t summer about swimming pools, beaches, and being out doors? Of course it is! So go out and enjoy yourself (and your gorgeous fake tan) but keep these little tidbits in mind – your skin will thank you.

  • Always wear SPF 15 or higher sunscreen everywhere (especially on your face), even when you are not going to be out in the sun for long. This is probably the best thing that you can do for your skin as far as protecting it from UV rays.
  • If you are going to be outside for an extended time, wear a higher level SPF.
  • Reapply, reapply, and reapply, especially if you are going to be out for a while. Most people do not realize that the sunscreen will wash off, sweat off, or otherwise quit working within 2-3 hours so don’t leave your skin unprotected.
  • Wear sunscreen even if it is cloudy! UV rays can still sneak through the clouds.
  • If possible avoid being outside in the harshest times of the day: between noon and 4pm.
  • Don’t forget that your sunscreen can expire – if you are using a bottle from last summer, it is time to get a new one.

And there we have it, my guide to summer skin without the damaging repercussions. What do you think? Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments!

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