Summer is here. With beautiful weather comes beautifully tanned skin. There are two options to getting a tan, the natural way or the sun-free option. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you achieve a sun-kissed look, and keep it.

Sun-free tan products

How does it work?

The active ingredient in most sunless tanning products is the colour additive dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When applied, dihydroxyacetone reacts with dead cells in the skin’s surface to temporarily darken the skin and simulate a tan. The colouring typically wears off after a few days.

Prep your skin

Before you do anything, prep you skin. Shower, shave, and exfoliate the day prior to using the product. You can use a loofah or put some salt or sugar in your body-wash for grit and scrub. Avoid oil-based scrubs as the oil acts as a barrier.

Moisturize rough areas such as elbows, knees, ankles, hands, wrists. This will stop the colour from building up on these patches. If you’re tanning your face, moisturize your hairline for the same reason. This also prevents the tan from staining your hair.

Passion Fruit Body Polish – Fake Bake
  • This is a gentle oil free body polish, but effective exfoliator which leaves the skin feeling silky smooth and ready to tan. It contains the high concentration of botanicals and aloe vera extracts, as well as micro particles for gentle, natural exfoliating. Pay special attention to the elbows, hands, knees and feet.
  • Tips: Use 3-5 days after self-tan application to ensure your tan fades evenly
  • $21. bathandunwind.com.

Choose your shade

Whether you’re using a cream, gel, spray or mousse, it’s important to get the right shade. Do a prior patch test on a small area to ensure that you have chosen the correct shade and that your skin doesn’t react to the product. Make sure the shade you have chosen isn’t too dark, otherwise your tan will look unrealistic.

The Big day
  • Before: Use a baby wipe to remove deodorant to avoid green tinged armpits (temporary, but annoying).
  • After: Wear dark and loose fitting clothes and shoes, as well as a strapless bra (straps will leave lines – no bra is the best!).
Tan Applicator Mitt – St. Tropez Tanning Essentials

A tool for a great tool for an even, streak-free application. This soft mitt will also protect your palms from staining. $9. Sephora.com.

Foaming Sunless Tan – Rodan + Fields Essentials

This foaming, sunless tan is the top sun-free tanning product currently on the market providing a natural-looking tan that’s not streaky or orange. It’s light, dries quickly, and doesn’t streak. The foam consistency guarantees an even application. Very natural looking. $30. Rodanandfields.com/ca.

 

 

Tanning for Dummies

If all of the above advice sounds too much like hard work, you’ll be happy to know that there is an effective and easy alternative – gradual tanner. Think of it as the love child of a fake tan and a body cream.

Gradual Tanning Moisturizing Lotion – Palmer’s

How does this work? Because this type of formulation features less DHA than traditional tans, not to mention more moisturizing agents, it is less likely to streak. This means you can just slather it on and no prep work is required. You will find yourself with a gorgeous sun-kissed glow within hours. $14. Amazon.ca.

 

Using Natural Products

Swap ‘tan-accelerating’ creams for supplements

Tan-accelerating creams are not effective, as some dermatologist say. Nothing you apply to your skin can improve the production of melanin, the skin’s protective dark pigment. However, taking a daily 25g beta-carotene supplement can. It will boost your skin’s natural defence against UV by improving its ability to tan. But that doesn’t mean you need less sunscreen!

Tan Optimizer Supplements – IMEDEEN

Try Tan Optimizer supplements, which prepare the skin for the sun and protect cells from UV induced oxidative stress using a duo of antioxidants. $68. Amazon.ca.

Eat sun-friendly foods

CarrotJuiceMax Capsules – Hallelujah Acres

Certain foods are known to increase lycopene, the skin’s own SPF. An antioxidant found in tomatoes, and other red and orange fruits and vegetables, can boost your sun protection by 33 per cent. These capsules come from carrot juice powder that is a whole-food concentrate made from the juice of fresh grown in 100 per cent vegan capsules with no artificial colours or preservatives.

You can protect your skin by using a natural photo-protector such as green tea. It contains an antioxidant called polyphenols. This antioxidant will help repair DNA and is also an anti-inflammatory. Sip it after a sushi lunch (fish, rich in omega-3, has anti-inflammatory powers, too).

Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids that can help protect against sunburn. While caffeine is thought to help cut your skin’s cancer risk, it’s best taken in an espresso shot right before you hit the beach! $46. Amazon.com.

Maintaining the Tan

To make sure your tan endures, you need to stay hydrated. Either you choose to use sun-free products or go the natural way. This means drinking lots of water and applying moisturizer daily.

After Sun Moisturizer Ultra-Hydrating – Clarins

Consider a tan extender that will keep your colour rich and lasting a day or two longer than it otherwise would. $37. Thebay.com.

 

Final tanning tip: Enhance your tan

The Multiple Stick – Nars, and Sun Beam Golden Bronze Liquid Highlighter – Benefit
A big buzz in makeup artist circles is the concept of skin finishing, the perfect way to set off your newly minted tan. It’s makeup for the body. Run a shimmer stick along the shins to help elongate your leg or apply a liquid highlighter on the collarbones to give the skin a gorgeous glow. Nars’ Multiple Stick $49, Benefit Bronze Liquid Highlighter $35. Sephora.com.