Beauty & Health, First Blush

It’s That Time of Year…

By Genevieve LeFranc

It’s That Time of Year…

Skirt hems are getting shorter; chalky, winter skin is peaking out from under stuffy layers; and store windows are already showing off tiny bikinis and resort wear. The weather is getting warmer, which means shorts, sundresses, tank tops—and with it—bare skin. If you’re not blessed with one of the rich brown mocha skin tones of your African, Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern sisters, you can get a jump on summer by transforming your skin from milky, winter white to glowing, supple bronze.

There’s no doubt—a tan makes you feel prettier, look healthier, and enhances muscle definition. Nothing beats being on the receiving end of compliments on your luminescent complexion when you’ve been putting in overtime at the office and haven’t seen the light of day in weeks. However, by now we all know the perils of overexposure to the sun and baking in it during your vacation is the fastest way to age skin, speed the formation of wrinkles, and increase your chances of developing skin cancer (I won’t even get into tanning beds but if you’re are still using one, stop immediately). If you’re ready and willing to pass up or at least drastically reduce laying out but don’t want to give up that warm healthy glow, self-tanners are one of the best options. Some formulas do a great job of building color gradually with natural results that can last up to a week, but many self-tanners get a bad rap for their less than pleasant smell, streaky application, or orangutan-like results.

Skeptics, take note! Follow these tips, do’s and don’ts, and suggestions for the best formulas, and you’ll be looking like an exotic island princess in no time—no vacation required.

It’s not only about the product you choose. You need to know the essential tips and tricks of application, or any self-tanner will end up looking tragic. First and foremost, you must exfoliate with a body scrub in the shower, paying close attention to rough, dry areas like elbows and knees—dry skin will absorb more tanner, creating an uneven, blotchy look. Try Laura Mercier’s Almond Coconut Milk Scrub. Shave beforehand, but do not apply moisturizer, lotion, sunscreen, deodorant, or perfume—your skin needs to be totally clean to ensure proper absorption of the self-tanner. Stay away from sugar or salt scrubs that are oil based.

When you’re ready, rub Vaseline on your cuticles and nails to protect your manicure and keep your fingertips and nails from staining. Next, apply the tanner limb by limb, starting with your legs, sweeping the product over the shin and calf, and then over the ankle, foot, and toes. Continue with your thigh, from front to back, applying any excess over the knee. Then, apply tanner to hips, stomach, and torso, and lastly shoulders and arms. Wait ten minutes before getting dressed, and don loose fitting, dark clothing. No point staining your favorite pieces. Avoid water, bathing, or activities that will make you sweat for at least eight hours. If your tan hasn’t properly set, sweating will cause unsightly streaking a la Christina Aguilera. By now your hands will be covered in the product, so to remove the tanner from your palms and not the tops of your hands, rub your palms along a wet washcloth. If you mess up or your end result is streaky, you can fix flubs with an astringent toner or even toothpaste. If your application is patchy and uneven, try exfoliating again. If the color is too light, repeat after allowing time for the tan to fully develop. Now that you know how to properly apply self-tanner, you’re ready to go out and pick the perfect product. Do your research based on your skin-type and tone to see what comes highly recommended.

Finally, don’t forget to always wear a moisturizer with SPF to prolong your sunless tan, and. more importantly, to protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays.

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