Tanning Tips

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How do bronzers work for tanning?

Know your self-tanning options: Bronzers give you a temporary, cosmetic glow.

Bronzers are cosmetics available in cream, lotion and powder form that produce immediate effects. Bronzers can be easily removed with soap and water, and need to be reapplied after washing, sweating, or rubbing off. Note that bronzers can rub off on clothing, so use caution when putting on and taking off clothes. Apply bronzers to parts of your face, chest and shoulders that would naturally get sun, highlighting your forehead, nose, cheekbones and collar bones. Layer bronzer over your foundation and under your blush to create the most natural effect.

How do tanning pills work?

Know your options: Tanning pills change skin color from the inside, but carry risks.

Recently, tanning pills have hit the market and are advertised as a way to get a natural-looking, even tan from the inside out. While avoiding the sometime messy process of applying self-tanning lotions and sprays may seem appealing, consumers should be cautious about ingesting chemicals that have not been tested and approved for this use. Most pills contain the pigment canthaxanthin, which has been approved by the FDA as a food color additive, but not as a tanning agent. After large amounts of canthaxanthin are consumed, it is deposited throughout the body - including in the skin, which turns an orange-brown color that is known as a “tan”, and also in internal organs, including the liver and the brain. Unfortunately, canthaxanthin-based tanning pills have been linked to dangerous side effects, including hepatitis – a dangerous inflammation of the liver. There is no point in avoiding the harmful effects of the real sun just to subject yourself to the harmful effects of these pills: bronzers and tanning lotions will give you that truly healthy glow you seek.

How can I get a tan without damaging my skin?

Use self-tanning products to get that golden glow without damaging your skin.

In recent years, it has been proven that UVA and UVB rays, from the sun or from tanning lamps, can alter the DNA of skin cells and contribute to skin cancer. Also, these rays contribute to the aging process, creating wrinkles and the darkened patches of skin called sun spots. Still, though, people love their golden glow. While the self-tanning lotions of the 1970s and early 1980s often left users looking orange, modern tanning lotions create a natural-looking tan that you can have year-round while saving your skin from long-term damage. Cosmetic tanners, such as bronzing powders and creams, are make-ups that let you experiment and play with your glow on a day-to-day basis.

Can I use self-tan products on hairy areas of skin?

Prepare to apply self-tanner by removing unwanted hair a day before you self-tan.

Like so many things, the best self-tanning results are achieved with planning and preparation. To avoid unexpected and/or suboptimal results, you might prefer to remove unwanted body hair. The same properties of self-tanner that will color your skin will also cling to your hair, so that tanning may appear darker than intended when applied over hair. Plan to remove unwanted hair a day before you want to apply your self-tanner, especially if you shave or wax to remove the unwanted hair. Allow skin to recover before using self-tan products. Note that shaving or waxing (particularly waxing) AFTER applying self-tanner will risk removing layers of tanned shin, which could also leave you blotchy. Also note that you should avoid getting tanning lotions or creams on hair that you want to keep, such as your eyebrows.

How do tanning lotions work?

Know your options: Tanning lotions and sprays use chemicals to change the surface color of your skin.

The most effective sunless tanning products are lotions and sprays that contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the active ingredient. DHA is colorless, but it interacts with the uppermost skin cells to change the color of those cells. As these skin cells naturally slough off, the tan created by the change fades, so you'll need to reapply self-tanning lotions every few days. Note that these tanning products will change the color of any skin they touch, so protect the palms of your hands and areas where skin is thicker – such as knees, elbows and ankles, to achieve an even and natural-looking tan. Refer to other tips on this page for more details on how to apply self-tanning lotions.

Do I need to exfoliate before applying a self-tanning product?

Exfoliate and moisturize your skin to ensure a smoother application.

The condition of your skin will affect the final results of tanning lotion application. One way to ensure an even and pleasing color is to exfoliate and moisturize your skin before applying the product. Use either a body/facial scrub or a loofah and shower gel to slough of dead and dry skin. You can also try this technique: Fill a cup or jar with salt (ordinary table salt is fine, though coarse or kosher salt will be grittier). Add enough oil (baby, vegetable, olive or bath oils work well) to form a paste. Rub the salt and oil mixture over your entire body while showering, rubbing in circular motions. The salt removes dead skin cells, and the oil will cling to your skin to add much-needed moisture. If you use this method, be sure to wash the oil film off before applying self-tanner, as it could interfere with absorption by the skin.

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