“A girl simply has to be tanned,” said Coco Chanel after bronzing herself on a yacht in the Mediterranean sometime in the 1920s. Today, a lot of people associate a tan not just with health and attractiveness but also with leisure and wealth. A golden glow means having the means to afford a luxurious vacation on some beautiful exotic island. This is why many try to achieve the effortlessly fashionable tan, especially in the summer months.
Ways to Get a Tan
There are many options available today for attaining your desired bronze color. Tanning salons offer varying services, from tanning beds to airbrush tanning. However, the deeper the tan is, the more expensive the service is likely to be. It may also require more sessions, which will prompt you to spend even more time and money. For these reasons, people also turn to less costly tanning alternatives.
Sunless tanning is a popular option for achieving a sun-kissed glow without hitting the tanning bed. However, it’s not easy to find good affordable products that stay golden on your skin. A lot of spray tans and lotions tend to turn neon orange after some time. Getting the perfect tan may even require professional spray tanning, which is not a sensible idea if you wish to avoid the fees of tanning services altogether. Besides, even professional spray tanning does not guarantee that your skin won’t end up looking somewhat orangey. If your goal is to look like a bikini model, not a pumpkin, it will be worth it to explore some more options.
If you want a more do-it-yourself approach, the classic alternative is sunbathing. It seems simple enough—you just rub some oil, lie in your yard, and enjoy the warm rays of Mr. Sun. However, although he is generous with his rays, we all know that Mr. Sun is not as friendly as he appears to be. Exposing your skin to the sun’s damaging rays can lead to multiple skin issues. Ultraviolet radiation causes damage to the skin cells, which in turn, can trigger mutation of the cell’s structure. To make matters worse, the mutation can cause skin cancer, the type of cancer most commonly diagnosed in the United States, as reported by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Sunbathing with Tanning Oil
Conventional tanning oils are available in many brands, types, and packaging, but all work by promoting a deeper tan when sunbathing. These oils attract the ultraviolet rays of the sun, encouraging penetration into the skin. By intensifying the penetration, the UV rays speed up the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for giving color to your skin.
To protect the skin, more brands of tanning oils now contain SPF. However, the SPF protection in tanning oils usually does not exceed the SPF 4 level. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) minimum requirement for sunscreens is SPF 15, but according to the American Academy of Dermatology, to effectively shield the skin from UV rays, the level must not be lower than SPF 30.
Some tanning oils also contain bronzers that enhance color. A common ingredient of tanning solutions is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). According to Dr. Jennifer Lin, a practicing dermatologist, DHA is a colorless sugar which deposits itself onto the outer layer of the skin, causing a chemical reaction with the amino acids. This reaction leads to a dark pigment which typically stays for 14 days. The pigment, however, as stated previously, lightens within a week into a weaker color close to orange. Another thing to consider is that although DHA is FDA-approved, this chemical is not safe to inhale and can cause some serious health issues. This being said, having a more natural approach and using DIY tanning oils is a safer option.
If you want to bake a tan but wish to avoid the risks, here are some helpful tips to safely prolong your glow.
Cleanse and Exfoliate First
Before you slather anything on your skin, it is a good idea to cleanse and exfoliate first. Cleansing is the first step to any type of beauty routine. It is therefore essential to not skip it. Exfoliation sloughs off dead skin cells and gives you a smoother canvas to work on. This will allow better and faster absorption which will yield desirable results.
Use Natural Tanning Oils
Most tanning oils available in the market contain unnecessary synthetic ingredients such as fragrances and bronzers. To ensure that you are feeding your skin the right ingredients, it’s suggested that you combine some healthy ingredients to create your tanning oil. There are plenty of organic options guaranteed to provide your skin with nutrients.
This oil is loaded with antioxidants that keep the skin supple and smooth. It also contains anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties which aid in the skin’s natural healing processes. By assisting in its recovery, coconut oil can soothe your skin and prevent sunburn, making it ideal for tanning.
Natural, unrefined avocado oil has a rich composition of vitamins, fatty acids, and lecithin which nourish the skin by providing intense moisture.
This thick oil enhances the skin’s elasticity by promoting collagen production. It works well with coconut oil for tanning because both oils have a natural SPF factor of over 4.
Being rich in vitamins C, D, and A enables sunflower oil to combat signs of aging and retain the skin’s natural moisture. It also helps the skin recover by aiding in the regeneration of cells.
This oil is not just yummy on your pasta! It’s also very good for your skin. It provides moisturizing properties and contains a significant amount of vitamin E.
Don’t Overbake Your Skin
It’s recommended to apply broad-spectrum sun protection before sunbathing. Contrary to popular belief, sunscreen will not prevent your skin from tanning. Rather, it will filter UV rays and prevent sunburn without affecting melanin production.
Dermatologist Dr. Nick Lowe explains that every person has a “melanin cut-off” or the point when the skin cannot produce any more melanin. After this cut-off, you will just be pointlessly exposing yourself to UV rays and increasing risks of cell damage. According to Dr. Frank Schwanke, former head of Sun Care R&D in Beiersdorf, taking a break from the sun also helps by reducing risks of sunburn and ensuring that your tan will last longer.
Please remember that although the golden tan is a popular beauty standard, it’s not a requirement. Health and attractiveness are not solely dependent on trends. However, if it is your personal choice to bronze yourself, opt for the safest way to do it.