A little color or glow will freshen up most complexions and can be the ultimate accessory when sporting swimwear. But the risks associated with prolonged sun exposure can outweigh the beauty benefits. More and more people are turning to sunless tans, especially as industry advances have made them more effective and available. A good sunless tan is so natural it can almost go unnoticed while a bad tan – well, we all probably have a visual. So whether you are venturing to a salon or doing it at home, follow these guidelines to achieve sunless perfection.
Dry skin is enemy number one in the long list of sunless tanning enemies. Your skin is the foundation for this temperamental beauty treatment so if you start with a poor foundation, your result will suffer. Think uneven coloring or worse, scaling and flaking – a big no-no! Thoroughly exfoliate the day before and moisturize so your fresh canvas is ready.
Considering that most people do sunless tanning for a specific event or purpose, you want your investment of money and time to give you your desired result. I actually think the allocation of time is more crucial than the cost of a sunless tanning session which, depending where you go could easily surpass $100. Once you have found a tanning salon, airbrush artist or sunless tanning product you like, try it. Do this when you may have some downtime but NOT before you have to be photographed in your friend’s wedding or right before that big vacation you’ve been anticipating. What if the result is not what you expected? Adjustments or a new plan may be necessary. Removing a fake tan gone bad while not impossible, is not easy nor is it a good use of your time.
Planning the right outfit is another element that will help the success of your tan. You want something light weight and loose with long sleeves and pants. You want to be completely covered to protect your tan and avoid rubbing any off where you’ll want it to show. Dark colors are best because they won’t stain as easily. If you’re prone to sweating then really consider how to cover up without getting too hot. Sweat is wet and wet is another enemy of the sunless tan-in-process.
Check the Forecast
A perfect weather day is a gift from the tanning gods, something that can be easily overlooked. Just think for a second. You have a freshly glazed, golden body that may need several hours to cure before you wash off the excess. Now it starts to rain! Do you have an umbrella? Are you going to get wet? If you thought a little sweat would streak your tan, what about the rain? Be prepared.
Sleeping in It
If you are not doing a single-step tan or an express product, listen up. Many people recommend sleeping in the tan before they wash it off and this can be a good idea. But just like your tanning outfit, you want to dress your bed accordingly which means investing in some alternate bedding, dark fabrics in a lighter weight.
Just like a real tan, a sunless tan has a life expectancy. A good sunless tan could last a week but will peak for a few days. There are a few tricks of the trade to extend the life of your tan. Avoid prolonged contact with water. This means shorter, cooler showers, no baths, definitely no hot tubs and you probably want to avoid the pool and ocean as chemicals and salts will strip your tan faster. You can also buy products specifically made to extend your tan but check to see if any contain additional self tanners.
After you tan, check the ingredients of lotions, sunscreens and body wash. Ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate, mineral oil and petroleum will fade your tan more quickly.
Remember the Order of Operations. When it comes to a sunless tan, think of it as the final touch. That means that all other beauty treatments and grooming must be done first to avoid removing the tan in specific areas of your body. Things like waxing, manicures, even haircuts can ruin your tan so for optimal results, always do those in advance of any sunless tanning.
By Bobby Ciletti, travel and lifestyle expert and founder of TheDaysoftheChic.com. Twitter @BobbyCiletti