If getting the sun-kissed look is high on your priority list, slathering
on a fake tan as a lotion, foam or spray is safer than basking in the sun
because it doesn't put you at risk for skin cancer. The trick is applying
it so it looks natural -- no streaks or orange colored skin. A professional
spray tan is the most goof-proof way to go, but these can get expensive,
and the resulting tan doesn't last any longer than it does with do-it-yourself
sunless tanner products. Like the spray tans, foams and DIY sprays dry faster
but aren't any easier to apply than lotions and creams. One option is going
for a gradual self-tanning lotion, which uses a lower concentration of dye
and can help minimize streaks and missed spots.
No matter which self tanner you choose, all contain the dyeing agent dihydroxyacetone
(DHA), a harmless but smelly chemical that produces a scent when it comes
in contact with your skin. The smell fades as the product dries, but self
tanners vary in their level of initial and lingering stinkiness, which may
or may not bother you.
Here are some other things to keep in mind about sunless tanners:
tanners use dihydroxyacetone (DHA) to temporarily color skin. Although
this dye is considered safe, it does not offer protection from the sun's
damaging rays. Experts urge consumers to top their faux tan with a sunscreen
when outdoors (dermatologists currently suggest at least an SPF of 30).
Also, beware of the SPF claims made by some sunless tanners. If your product
doesn't list the ingredients titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone
or Mexoryl SX (Tinosorb outside the U.S.), then it doesn't offer ample
Bare, smooth skin offers the best base for a faux
tan. To avoid an uneven
application, shower, shave and exfoliate before you apply any self
tanner, and apply it only to bare skin (hold off on makeup and moisturizers
until after it dries). Failure to do so may cause uneven coverage. Also,
go easy when applying to joints like elbows and knees. These areas possess
rougher, more wrinkled skin, and oversaturation can result in darker color.
sunless tanners can stain. For optimal results, give your tanner ample
time to dry (carefully following the directions on the label) before
dressing. Not one for waiting? Opt for a foam or spray formula, because
these tanners dry faster than lotions. And don't forget to wash your hands
immediately after application to avoid darker fingers and palms.
If you decide you
can't wait for a sunless tan to fade on its own, reviewers recommend
using St. Tropez Tanning Essentials Self Tan Remover (*Est. $18 for
8 oz.) to remove color. You can also use this to clean your hands to avoid the
tell-tale orange palms that can occur after application. A good exfoliating
scrub can also speed the process. For smaller fixes, experts suggest using
nail polish remover -- just be sure to rinse it off quickly.
Watch the video
To learn more, watch this About.com video on airbrush sunless tanning.
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