We all know by now that worshipping the sun comes at a price, and a very big one, indeed. Prolonged exposure to the sun, without taking measures to protect yourself, can lead to skin cancer, at worst, and rapidly ageing skin. Those aren’t very good odds, But what if you still want a tan? Is it possible to keep that healthy glow of someone who’s been in the sun, but without the damage? It is indeed, and we will show you the do’s and don’ts how to get a good tan.
- Limit exposure to safe hours
When you’re on vacation somewhere sunny, you want to take advantage of every moment and spend it all basking in the glory of the sunlight, but while that will give you a deep tan, that comes with sunburn and skin damage, so it’s hardly worth it. It’s always best to limit your tanning periods to mornings and evenings, usually before 10 am and after 4 pm. That way, you will still get a nice tan, but you don’t have to worry as much about damaging the skin.
- Use high-level SPF and re-apply often
Sun cream is an absolute necessity and don’t even think you can get away with no using it, even for short periods of time. Not only that, but it needs to have an appropriate SPF level to protect you properly. This will depend on the part of the world you’re in and how strong the sun is. The British Association of dermatologists recommends SPF 30.
- Remember to alternate sides
The secret to a good, even tan is to make sure you get equal amounts of exposure all over your body. That means you might need to constantly roll over like a rotisserie chicken, but you will be guaranteed to tan evenly and beautifully.
- Don’t use oil
The worst thing I see women do on the beach is use oil on their bodies. While it’s true that it makes your body glisten attractively in the sun, you are practically begging for sunburn. When you think about it, it’s exactly like roasting yourself in an oven, so it’s the opposite of what you want to do. It can be incredibly dangerous, so put down the baby oil and use sun cream, instead.
- Don’t fall asleep
We’ve all been guilty of this at one point or another, and it’s easy to fall into that trap: you’re on the beach, you’re super relaxed, your eyes are closed, and you doze off, with the faint noises of the ocean in the background. When you wake up an hour or so later, whichever side was exposed to the sun is now probably red and angry and it hurts to touch it. Congratulations, you’ve burned yourself. Get some Aloe Vera and don’t let it happen again.
- Don’t forget to drink water
Dehydration is a real concern when you’re spending so much time in the sun. It can be difficult to keep liquids fresh, cool and ready to drink, but you need to keep an eye on your water intake, more than ever. No matter how annoying it is to keep getting up to look for a bathroom, the alternative is sun burn and even other, more serious health problems that can land you in a hospital bed. Proper hydration should be your number 1 concern, along with SPF.
- Exfoliate properly
If you’ve ever tried to use a fake tanning lotion, you will know that it’s very easy for the end result to be splotchy and uneven, no matter how much time you spend trying to perfect it. That’s why you want your skin to be hydrated, exfoliated, and prepped, so that the tanning lotion can provide even coverage and an even colour. If you fail to exfoliate, the dead skin cells won’t take the colour properly, and you’ll end up with bits of different coloured skin all over your body.
- Use a tanning mitt
Sticking to the topic of even tanning, I would recommend always using a tanning mitt to do the job. Why? Firstly, because you want something to help you get the lotion evenly all over your body. Secondly, because the product will stain everything it touches, including the palms of your hands. In order to prevent that, you’ll want to either use the mitt provided with the tanning kit, or purchase one of your own.
- Choose the appropriate level for your needs
Tanning lotions come in different levels of depth, depending on your natural skin colour, as well as the level of tan you plan on achieving. Many people make the mistake of choosing the darkest colour without thinking about it, but be careful, because it might end up looking unnatural. It’s always better to start out with the lightest shade, especially when you’re trying out a new product. That way, there is less room for unfortunate surprises.
- Don’t use a tanning bed
By now, everyone knows that tanning beds are a very bad idea, and not just because of that one Final Destination movie with that girl trapped in the tanning bed. Although they’re marketed as an “alternative” to sun tanning, they’re every bit as dangerous, because they use the same harmful UV rays. Stay away from the tanning bed and opt for fake tan, if you don’t fancy laying out in the sun.
- Don’t shave immediately before tanning
While it’s true that shaving serves the double purpose of exfoliation, as well as hair removal, the blades can also cause microscopic cuts on the surface of the skin, and tanning lotion seeping into them won’t help them heal. In fact, it might make things worse and lead to a nasty infection, so make sure you shave the day before.
- Don’t try to do it yourself
It’s hard enough to reach around and zip up a dress by yourself, imagine how much harder it is to spread tanning lotion all over your back, in a place you can’t reach and can’t see. Sometimes, you have no choice, but ideally, you’d have a spouse or a friend help you out with the bits at the back that you can’t do on your own. That way, you ensure an even tan on all sides, not just the front.