Master Self Tanning Before Your Day at the Beach
● By Brandi Barnett
You Glow GirlMarch 2007
By Melissa Gulden
Okay all you Spring Breakers, and those of you who are looking a whiter shade of pale, those days of Crisco and a lounge chair are over.With the rapidly depleting ozone layer, one can’t be too careful when it comes to the sun. There are many other ways to warm up that complexion in time for Cancun. Self-tanners have improved by leaps and bounds and so has their user-friendliness. So grab a pair of gloves and get glowing!
There are definite dos and don’ts to self-tanning, beginning with formula. Be sure to pick out a kind of tanner you can handle. You may want to take a trial run on a weekend, several days before your vacation. If something goes awry, you don’t want to be an orange streak in a bikini the very first day in Mexico, Havasu, or wherever your destination.
Home tanners come in lotions, gels, sprays and mousses.Whatever kind you get, a faux tan develops in about nine to 12 hours and lasts three to five days. Gradual tanners contain smaller amounts of DHA (dihydroxyacetone, the active ingredient) for color you build over time. Face products contain even less DHA, since facial skin absorbs tanners more easily.
Self-tanning is cheap, convenient, and easy, so don’t be afraid. However, there are rules to tanning:
Always exfoliate away dead skin. Removing the dulling cells makes the skin’s surface smoother, so the tanner’s pigments can spread evenly. Keep in mind that some exfoliators contain abrasive particles, which can tear away at the skin’s outer layer and cause irritation. To be on the safe side, use an oil-free, cream-based scrub with fine granules, such as almond meal or sugar. For an invigorating body scrub, try Lancôme Aromatonic Energizing Body Scrub. This bright green scrub smells so fresh you’ll wish it was a fragrance ($30, department stores).
Avoid buildup by rubbing a moisturizer into tough areas, such as knees, elbows and feet. Let it absorb before applying tanner. Start at the bottom and work your way up. (If you begin at your face, you’ll have to bend over to reach the lower areas, causing crease lines around your belly.) Dry areas grab on to tanning agents and turn extra dark. To smooth tanner over hard-to reach
places, such as your back, use a paddle applicator, spreading the gel or cream in a back-and-forth motion (SunMate, $6, drugstore.com). Be sure to wash hands afterward. If you happen to streak, use an exfoliator and start over.
Use a mirror to make sure you cover all body angles. Tinted tanners make it easy to see where you’ve missed, but the color can rub off on clothes or sheets.Most tanners also leave temporary odors.
• Sprays: The fastest at-home option, this makes it easy to hit hard-to-reach body parts. (Avon Sun Self Tanning Spray, $9.99, avon.com).
• Foam: Light, spreadable and easier to control than spray. (Neutrogena Instant Bronze Streak-Free Foam, $10, drugstores).
• Wipes: Individually wrapped in convenient foil packets and pre-moistened with just the right amount of self-tanner, these single-use towelettes deliver a foolproof, fast-acting tan — ideal for travel. (Estee Lauder Go Tan Sunless Towelettes, $23-$28, esteelauder.com).
• Tinted Gel: The gel’s bronze hue shows where you’ve applied. (Lancôme Flash Bronzer Glow N’Wear Gel, $29.50, lancome.com).
• Gradual Tan: Subtle color makes this good for beginners, but it’s still a tanner like the others; apply unevenly and you’ll tan unevenly. Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer, $6.99, drugstores).
Beyond At-Home Tanning: Spray Booths
At the tanning center, you take off all your clothes (if you’re not comfortable doing that, then wear an old swimsuit you don’t mind staining), put on the shower cap provided and step into a booth that spritzes tanner all over you (you can choose whether to go light or dark). A beep or voice tells you when to turn around so every spot is covered. The booth is very userfriendly, just be sure to wear the goggles, and rub the barrier cream over rough spots, such as knees, tops of feet and hands. While no one should purposely inhale or ingest the mist, DHA is a non-hazardous compound and causes no adverse reaction in moderate quantities.
It’s affordable, and definitely the fastest route to a tan—the spraying takes less than five minutes.
You don’t have great control over where or how much tanner goes on. The process doesn’t include exfoliation, so you should do that at home before you go. Booths also tend to be chilly (the misting has to be done below 74 degrees for best effect). And you’ll notice a slight self-tanner smell for a few hours afterward.
A single session is around $30, but many salons offer packages that cut the cost of individual sessions.
Try the Mystic Tan at Sunkissed Tanning Salon, 64 Hartnell Ave., Redding. (530) 223-9444.