A golden tan is a sign of a life lived well: basking on the beach or poolside, soaking up that coveted vitamin D. Not only does it make you look better, but catching those rays also helps boost serotonin levels and improve your mood.
Still, like all good things, it’s important to know your limits and practice proper care and moderation. There are plenty of ways you can practice smarter skincare, and tanning is no exception. Your skin is your largest organ, and taking care of it now goes a long way towards having healthy, beautiful skin for a lifetime.
Prepare Your Skin
During those first few glorious sunny days after a long winter, it may be tempting to just run straight out into the sun and soak it all in. However, a little preparation before any major exposure goes a long way towards tanning like a pro. Here are a few simple steps you can follow:
Start scrubbing: Adding exfoliation to your skincare regimen is essential to having a beautiful, even tan. Exfoliation helps shed tired old skin, sweat and grime from the surface, boosting your body’s ability to generate fresh cells and creating a smooth, healthy, even surface.
Hydrate: It’s important to drink plenty of water when you’re in the sun, but don’t forget to have a few pre-tanning glasses of water to minimize any stress on your body and the risk of dehydration.
Learn to Love Sunscreen
First things first: The only thing you’re going to get if you decide to forego sunscreen is a nasty sunburn. A quality SPF (preferably 15 or higher) sunscreen is essential to safely tanning, allowing your skin to get plenty of that quality vitamin D without the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays. Always follow the instructions on the packaging, making sure to apply before exposure and reapply over the course of the day.
Also, consider using a sunscreen (or sunscreen-infused moisturizer) specifically formulated for use on your face. This will help protect some of the most vulnerable skin on your body (around the eyes) but also prevent irritation or breakouts that can result for those with even mildly sensitive skin.
Though it may be tempting, avoid ultra-low SPF “tanning oils,” as they provide little protection from the sun’s harmful rays. If you have to have that glistening look those products create, opt for layering an all-natural product like coconut oil on your skin after applying a proper sunscreen.
Keep It Moving
Everyone loves just lying in the sun for hours on end, but that’s never going to get you the perfect all-over tan you desire. Make sure to set an alarm on your phone and try to move every 20 minutes or so to keep from getting an uneven result. A great path to a perfectly even tan is to get active in the sun, whether it’s running, swimming or a friendly game of beach volleyball.
After any tanning time, it’s important to get in the habit of helping that tan “set.” This means having a shower (either hot or cold) to help wash away residual sunscreen, sweat, sand or chlorine that has coated your skin. After that, apply your favorite moisturizer to help nourish your skin and give it the nutrients it needs to recover from the stresses of sun exposure. Though you’re going to want to continue with your exfoliation regimen, always wait a day or two after sun exposure to limit the stress on your skin.
If you decide to skip the sun, check out this post on The Best Products & Application Methods for Sunless Tanner.