Summer can give most people the best accessory for the season: a smooth, fresh-from-the-beach tan. That is, when tanning is done correctly and safely.
Forget nasty tanner streaks and that leathery skin brought on by fake tanning. Let us walk you through the old-school way of getting golden with results that will last throughout the season.
Thou shalt remove thy dead skin cells. It is advised that you scrub all over three to four times a week to get rid of them, even when it means taking five extra minutes in the shower. For the face, there are gentler exfoliating masks that you can use instead of the harsher scrub. Whatever product you choose, the point remains: Exfoliation is vital because dead skin cells make the skin dry and flaky.
Thou shalt get bare. Well, not all the way, unless you’re into nudist camps; no judgment here. But for an even tan all over, wear appropriate clothing that will cover only the necessary body parts and expose skin that you want the sun to reach. Avoid wearing sleeved shirts in the outdoors to avoid those unwanted “built-in clothing” tan lines.
Thou shalt hydrate and re-hydrate. The ideal water intake is at least eight glasses of water a day, but when you’re heading out, better drink up more. Take in water as well while you’re lying under the sun to avoid heatstroke.
Thou shalt screen thy skin from the sun. Instead of using sunblock, you can slap on some sunscreen, as it allows the sun’s rays to penetrate the skin while still screening harmful UVA/UVB rays. (Read up on the difference between the two here.) Plus, sunscreen won’t give you those white pasty streaks that some sunblocks give. Remember to use sunscreen under your tanning oil to avoid sun damage. Focus on applying the stuff on your elbows, knees, shoulders, behind the ears, and on the nose bridge, as these areas easily burn.
Thou shat oil up. But no baby oil, please; get a nice tanning oil instead, as it intensifies the effects of UV rays so you can achieve a darker skin tone. Most tanning oils come with sun protection factor (SPF) between four and 15, so you can choose the level depending on how light your skin is. Unlike with sunscreen, avoid applying tanning oil on your nape, shoulders, face, elbows, and knees to keep them from roasting.
Thou shalt get even (coloring). The harshest light from the sun comes from 10 a.m. to three p.m., so mind your clock to avoid getting fried. While under the sun, remember to give both your front and back sides equal tanning time; give each side about 15 minutes.
Thou shalt not be shady. Stay away in the meantime from sunglasses, hats, and any stuff that throws shade, even your flip-flops, unless you want to have built-in goggles and white straps on your feet. Keep your eyes shut while tanning to protect your eyes from too much light and wear lip balm to keep your kisser from getting sunburned. As a popular lip balm’s tagline goes, “Lips don’t tan, they burn.”
Thou shalt re-apply sunscreen and tanning oil. Sweating is unavoidable when you have that scorching sun shining down on you, plus you might find yourself wanting to take quick dips in the water during a tanning session. Don’t forget to re-apply sunscreen and tanning oil after toweling off.
Thou shalt cool down. Once your friends start to make jokes about seeing a human tomato, it’s time for a break; actually, it shouldn’t even reach that point, for your skin’s sake. After 15 minutes of basking in the sun, check yourself in the mirror and see if you’ve done enough tanning. Massage on some after-sun gel with aloe vera extract to cool down and soothe your skin, relieving it from the heat.
Thou shalt moisturize. Find a lightweight lotion or body oil that you can use after your daily shower. Just remember that body oil is different from tanning oil: Body oil doesn’t prolong the tanning process, plus it doesn’t leave the skin feeling sticky. Moisturizing is also a continuous process that you need to observe daily to keep skin from peeling off. It will also make your tan last longer.