One of the main detractors from a sunless tan is perhaps the fear that it will flake or fade after just a few days. Why spend $20 or more on a sunless tan if it won’t last as long? The idea of having to slather the orangey product on your skin every day probably doesn’t sound that appealing, either.
Before you give up and instead surrender to the sun’s harmful rays (remember, any tan indicates skin damage!) try making a few changes to your lifestyle. You might just find you can glow all summer long with minimal effort (and money!)
Before you bronze
Lengthening the life of your sunless tan starts before you even get it. The product will color the topmost layer of skin, so make sure that layer is smooth, healthy and won’t peel off any time soon.
How do you do this? Exfoliate of course! Directly before you head to the salon or slather on your tanner at home, use a body exfoliating scrub in the shower. This will slough away any dead skin cells so not an ounce of your tan is wasted! The healthy, new skin underneath will soak in all the color and help the tone stick around for a while.
You should shave any unwanted body hair before you tan, too, since shaving tends to slough away the top layer of skin. But don’t use shaving cream – many have thick moisturizing oils that can block your pores and prevent the tanner from seeping in. Instead, use an oil-free body wash or just water.
During the process
Don’t apply any moisturizer before your tan, since this could create a barrier between your skin and the tanning product. If the bronzer is a spray or foam and not a moisturizing lotion, just wait until afterward to cream up.
Also, try to tan in the morning. Usually, it takes about 6 to 8 hours for a sunless tan to set all the way in, but if you apply it at night, some might rub off on your sheets instead of sinking into your skin. Instead, apply in the morning and wear loose clothes.
Protecting your tan from the elements
One thing to keep in mind once you are perfectly bronzed is that the tanning product essentially dyed the top layer of your skin. Here’s how to keep it there.
• Moisturize every single day. When you get out of the shower, pat your skin dry instead of rubbing, then apply a light moisturizer. Remember, the longer you keep that outer layer healthy, the longer your tan will last.
• Avoid chlorine. Chlorine that is present in pools and hot tubs can break down the pigments in tanning products, so it’s best to either steer clear or rinse off with fresh water directly after you take a dip.
• Don’t exfoliate until the very end. Shaving or using any type of scrub or loofa on your body will remove some of the top layer of skin before you want it gone. However, at the tail end of your tan’s life, exfoliate lightly so it fades evenly.
Whether you paid for a one-time spray or you want to make the most of your bottled-up tan, certain precautionary tricks can help keep you glowing even longer. And never forget to layer sunscreen on top of a fake bake to protect your skin from the damaging effects of a real tan!