Everyone should wear sunscreen when outdoors for a longish period of time. And don’t pull the Vitamin D card– 15 minutes of exposure is all you need to soak up your daily D (you can also get it from salmon or fortified milk). A natural tan signifies cell damage just as much as a sunburn, even though it looks a helluva lot better. But you know what’s not pretty? Being prematurely spotty and wrinkly. Also ugly: cancer.
Please steer clear of tanning beds. It’s even sillier to actually pay someone else for the destruction of your largest organ. If you’re going to tan, skip the human toaster and do it by enjoying the outdoors. While you’re at it, smoke a few packs of cigarettes, mix some prescription medications, and live a little! (I do mean a little.)
Do a fact check on these things, and it’s no wonder they look like coffins…
MSNBC makes the case for why the “convenient” ultraviolet glow is up there with arsenic: Ouch.
2. FAKE BAKE.
I like being pale. As a redhead, I can accept that a thorough bronzing would look odd on me. I’m not trying to pull a Lindsay Lohan.
I’m sort of a naturalist when it comes to beauty (opposed to plastic surgery, colored contacts, acrylic nails, hair dye/extensions, etc.), but I realize it’s hard to draw the line between why-not? enhancement and becoming an artificial Barbie-droid. A couple summers ago, I picked up a tube of Jergens on a whim and experienced the power trip of being able to conceal the latticework of my veins.
For the 3 hottest months of the year, I prefer not to offend American society with my translucence. A tan makes one look healthier (oh, irony…) and thinner: 2 qualities anyone can appreciate while double-knotting that string bikini.
3. I’LL SAY IT: DON’T SPRAY IT.
Self-tanner requires trial and error. I hope to save you an error by recommending lotions over aerosol sprays. You’re saving the ozone layer from a teeny hole and your body from a whole lotta streaks. I earned my stripes once with some Banana Boat drugstore crap, but online reviews of “celebrity-grade” Sevin Nyne mist confirm that even the pricey stuff is high risk. Lotions, gels, and even foams fill the shelves now, and they’re easier to apply evenly. You’ll have to get your hands dirty…just make sure to wash them immediately afterward, lest ye be caught brown-handed.
Sevin Nyne self-tanner, $35 for the mist, lotion, or a trial size of both at Sephora.
Humorously, this line is designed by the afore-bashed Lohan. But apparently it’s good stuff and smells wonderful. Most products have a reputation for smelling nasty as they chemically alter your epidermis… So, each product will probably smell different from person to person (like perfumes).
Jergens Natural Glow, $7.94 at Target.
This smelled like graham crackers on me.Which is okay, I guess. Everyone likes s’mores.
Products that are formulated to build color gradually over multiple uses are a safe bet. It won’t be very noticeable if you screw it up. Also, these low-dose bronzers are often just enough for the fairest chicks. However, if you want a darker shade and aren’t new to the process, it’s definitely convenient to get a full-effect version so you only have to deal with it once a week tops. Summer is supposed to be leisurely, but who really has the time every few days to do the following?–
5. EXFOLIATE AND HANG OUT NAKED.
Whether you read women’s publications or just the backs of bottles, you’ve seen this tip: exfoliate. But for serious…do it. Salt scrub yourself down. Then dry off. Pin up wet hair. Lightly moisturize knees, elbows, and ankles. Smooth tanner on evenly. Rub it in until absolutely every area gets covered. Don’t dress or touch things or go get the newspaper until that junk is dried beyond a doubt. Resume living your life.
6. RUSH UP YOUR TOUCH UPS
If you want to throw on a pair of shorts and your stems just need a quick fix, this stuff is great:
Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs, $13.79 at drugstores
II gave my contradictory endorsement to ol’ Lindsay and I’m making an exception for sprays, too. I like the lightest shade (duh), which is less of a tanner and more like a speedy foundation for the legs. Sounds like overkill, but it’s easy and blurs out imperfections like bug bites, bruises, and yeah, fish-belly whiteness. It’s water resistant, so don’t cackle “I’m mmmelting!!!” if it starts raining. But don’t wear it if you’re going swimming, either.
Also, consider a bronzing powder for making sure your face matches your body and for highlighting/blending areas. Physicians Formula makes cakes of the stuff in every shade for a reasonable price.
7. PUT DOWN THE BOTTLE.
People have varying loyalty to fake baking. You may just do it for a certain beach vacation or big event. You may maintain it religiously all season. But please don’t worry about it once the temperature falls below 80 degrees and/or it’s October. An autumn or (gulp) winter “tan” might make your acquaintances ask if you’ve been on vacation. They’re wondering if it was a vacation to Awkward Insecurity Island.