The “Sunless” Tan

Its summer time and that means shorts, tank tops and flip slop sandals but anyone who lives in colder climates knows that winter weather and gray skies leads to pale and pasty appearing legs and arms. Although it is tempting to run outside and lie in the sun for a few hours to correct this, we have all heard about the dangers of SUV rays and the potential for skin cancer down the road. This leads to the catch-22: wanting a tan but not wanting to risk getting a tan.

Backing up a moment, let’s take a look at what a tan is exactly and how it affects the skin in the short and long term. The skin itself has two main layers called the epidermis and the dermis – tanning (sunless or traditional) involves the epidermis. Tanning is actually the skin’s natural defense system against overexposure to UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Your skin is actually trying to protect your body from the potential damage when you begin to sport that bronze glow.

Frequent exposure to the sun, tanning beds or sun lamps have some definite down sides that have been extensively researched. The link between skin cancer and tanning alone should be enough to dissuade this activity but since the effects are not seen right away it is easy for some people to dismiss the real danger they are exposing themselves to on a daily basis. This is not to say that exposure to the sun is bad, on the contrary it is actually very important to maintaining a healthy body, but how much is the question.

A more immediate (and visible) effect of the damage the sun can cause is the sun burn. Redness, itching and sensitivity are all problems that come from overexposure with no protection. If that is the short term damage that can happen in one day, can you imagine what frequent tanning is doing to your skin’s health over several years even without burning?

Other potential damage to your skin includes dryness, premature wrinkling, decreased defenses against free radicals….the list goes on and on. So the only real question is….is it really worth it?

Options!

So now what? You understand tanning is not good for you but you still want to have a nice tan anyway. Don’t think you will be the exception to the damaging effects, instead think smarter and find alternatives! The sunless self tanner has become a revolution in the consumer market because it provides all the benefits of a tan without the damaging repercussions.

Sunless self tanners have a bad reputation for producing unnatural or uneven tones in the skin. This is entirely possible if you do not take the time and care to read all instructions and apply your sunless tanner correctly. Here are a few simple steps to help ensure a wonderful and even sunless tan this season and all year round:

1) Prepare your skin!
Shave, cleanse and exfoliate! You want your tanner to go into fresh and healthy skin – not clinging to dead skins.

2) Do Not Use Other Products!
Don’t risk weird product interactions by moisturizing before or after applying your tanner – remember that the goal is a smooth and even texture, not a blotchy pattern.

3) Use Gloves!
Tanner is meant to penetrate the skin and the more applied to one area, the darker that area will be. Using gloves will prevent your hands from looking like you just played in the sand and forgot to wash up/

4) Make a System!
Even color is essential to avoid the “fake” look most tanners are criticized for. Begin with one leg and go from top to bottom in sections. Follow the same plan for legs, chest, stomach, back, etc. Do not apply to random areas and risk forgetting where you have already completed.

5) Ask a Friend!
Okay, maybe you don’t want anyone to know your faking it but big blotchy patches on your back will be a dead give away anyway. Ask a buddy to help you with any areas of the body you cannot reach or see easily to prevent missing an area.

6) Time is Important
Applying a tanner can be time consuming and rushing through the process will lead to mistakes and terrible results. Give yourself time to apply the tanner thoroughly AND time to allow it to dry.

Give your skin that fresh summer glow without the damage! Try a sunless self tanner this year and have all the benefits without the worry.

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