There are of course 2 dangerous ways to achieve a tan: To lie out in the sun on the beach or a pool or lie in a tanning bad and fry. This I do not recommend whether you easily tan or not. When you sit in the sun or under a sun tanning bed and your skin ‘tans’ essentially UVA and UVB rays trigger the melanin granules close to your skin to become oxidized, so your skin turns darker. Melanocyte in your deeper epidermis also changes and produce new melatonin granules. These granules are transferred to keratinocytes in the upper cell layers of the skin and position themselves in the outer portions of the cell above the cell nuclei providing additional protection for your skin. However, in the third stage of this process, damage occurs to the skin. The melanocytes divide and make more melanin granule producing cells. The production of more cells leads to additional melanin granule production which in the 3rd stage occurs 5 to 7 days after initial exposure to the UVA.
And if that doesn’t convince you not to tan for real here are some statistics from Skin Cancer the Facts, a Canadian article. “Skin cancer (including basal and squamous cell carcinomas – collectively referred to as “non melanoma skin cancer” and melanoma) is the most common cancer, by far, in Canada.” In 2007, 73,600 Canadians were diagnosed with skin cancer and 1 in 7 Canadians will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. Skin cancers represent one third of all new cases of cancer each year.
If you do decide to lie out in the sun to tan, limit your time in the sun and I cannot emphasize this enough: WEAR SUNSCREEN SPF 30 or higher. If you are fair like me or have children you may want to use a sunscreen with even more SPF such as an SPF 50, although, it is arguable whether an SPF 50 is any more helpful than a SPF 30. Apply sunscreen according to your SPF so every 30 minutes for example with SPF 30. And if you do get sun burned, do not forget the aloe vera! Some of my favorite sun screen brands include Ombrella, Neutrogena and Copper Tone because they make sunscreens without oil that are light to put on and made for sensitive skin and are effective.
So how do you achieve the perfect tan if you cannot actually suntan? You have 2 or 3 options when it comes to this. Your first is a spray tan, where you stand in a booth and a spray is applied evenly to your body. I tried this once at a salon and my experience was mixed. It cost about $30.00 and was supposed to last for about a week, which in the scheme of salon prices is not that bad. A spray tan machine told me when to turn and when to raise my arms and dried me as the spray tan was applied. I think this is a good option if you have medium to darker skin, however, if you have fair skin, prepare to be orange. I chose the lightest setting on the machine and as soon as I stepped out I knew I looked funny. I also had streaking in some areas where the spray tan was blotchy such as on my stomach but my legs looked great. I was supposed to leave the spray tan alone over-night and not shower, wash my face, or apply makeup but I was so shocked by how dark and orange my tan was that I showered right away. About 2 days after showering the initial spray tan off I had the perfect tan for my peaches and cream complexion. The areas on my skin that were blotchy still looked brown and bad. So whether a spray tan works for you or not, my best advice is just to try it once or twice and see how it looks on your skin, you can always shower it off.
A better way to get fake tan especially if you are fair is by applying a tanning lotion such as Jergans 3 day to Glow Moisturizer ($12.99) or L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Lotion ($17.89) at www.well.ca or Shoppers Drug Mart. Basically every beauty brand has their own kind of self-tanning lotion and it’s up to you to find out which one works the best. Try to apply these lotions with smooth hand motions and remember to wipe your knees, behind your knees, your ankles, hands and between your fingers and toes before you let these lotions dry on your skin as you may not be able to see the tan until the lotion is dry.
You can also get these self-tanners in different skin tone ranges so for light, medium and dark-skinned gurls. If you are light-skinned and still find that tanner is too dark or orange, try applying regular lotion before you apply the sunless tanner lotion. This lightens the tanner more. Tanning lotion also comes in sprays and wipes. Also, watch that you do not get self-tanner on white or light sheets or clothing as it may stain.
One more option you have in self-tanners is a product called Scott Barnes Body Bling Original: Moisturizing Shimmering Body Lotion. This a lotion you can apply just in the areas you need – so just on your legs, arms and facial area for instance, and it washes off the next day in the shower. It is a visible tanner so you can see it as you put it on and needs to be rubbed in well but looks great on your skin for the day no matter your skin tone. It is used by Jennifer Lopez and can be found at www.well.ca for $45 (120 ml) or $12 (30 ml). Although the tan does not last long it, it is my favorite option for self-tanning due to my light skin tone. Happy tanning, and if you have any other ways you like to tan safely let me know!