A natural tan should be made a thing of the past. If you’re looking for ways to fake sun-kissed skin and avoid sun damage, you’ve come to the right place.
As you may know, tanned skin is damaged skin. While tan, ‘sun-kissed’ skin is desirable for many of us, the sun is doing anything but kissing our skin — it’s damaging it irreparably. Ultraviolet radiation in sunlight damages and destroys the DNA that comprises skin cells. When skin is damaged, it produces more melanin as a defense mechanism to further damage. After the DNA within skin cells is damaged, it needs to rebuild itself. As skin cells rebuild, they are at risk for mutation. This mutation can cause skin cells to replicate at an accelerated and uncontrollable pace, becoming skin cancer. While skin cancer is highly treatable when it’s detected early, it can still prove lethal if it spreads to other organs. Sustained sun damage in the form of tans and burns can cause other health problems as well.
Tanning poses cosmetic threats to your skin beyond skin cancer. Actinic keratoses are sometimes precancerous lesions that develop as the result of prolonged sun exposure. Though many AK lesions don’t develop into skin cancer, they can be large and unsightly. Most require removal, which runs the risk of leaving behind scars. People who have tanned a lot will notice that their skin develops wrinkles, pigmentation irregularities, and other signs of aging far earlier than people who protect their skin from sun damage. Thankfully, there are ways to get around natural tans and still get the tanned look you’re after.
First and foremost, you need to consider a few critical things about the product you’re purchasing. There are countless self-tanning products and many establishments that offer spray tans. Spray tans are more expensive, but take a lot of the pressure off of you and are done quickly and efficiently. There are at-home spray tans you can administer too, but if you’re looking for a quick and easy solution, and spending a bit more is fine for your budget, you can’t go wrong with spray tans! Most self-tanning products come in one of three forms: towelettes, moisturizers or lotions. You may conflate the terms lotion and moisturizer, but they are different. A tanning lotion or cream may not contain anything that will help keep your skin smooth and hydrated. A tanning moisturizer, on the other hand, will absolutely help your skin retain its moisture and stay silky smooth.
Depending on your level of experience, you may want to practice with easier products like moisturizers, lotions or tanning towelettes. When you have the hang of using these self tanning products, you can expand into other products. There is a great deal you can do with contouring and blending to give your skin a more natural look.
This should go without saying, but many of these products don’t contain sunscreen or offer added protection from UV radiation. Find the right sunscreen for you, and apply it every two hours when you’re outdoors, year round. Just because you can’t see a burn doesn’t mean you won’t feel it, and your skin will be damaged and at higher risk for skin cancer.
Spray and self-tanning products have a bad rap for looking unrealistic or orange. Many of these issues are not a failure of the product, but rather owed to user error. Make no mistake: applying self-tanner is a bit of an art form, just like effectively using makeup. If you apply self tanner in multiple places, make sure you’re washing your hands frequently to avoid having tan palms. Another important tip is to blend naturally. The backs of our hands or feet often don’t tan quite like the rest of the body, so gradually lightening as you apply to these areas is critical. A major mistake some make is not tanning their hands or below their ankles at all, and the stark contrast looks jarring. Additionally, many joints like your elbows or knees absorb more self-tanner than other parts of the body. You should dilute the product on your joints with a wet towel or apply lotion to these areas to keep them from over-absorbing and becoming unnaturally dark. Ultimately, you will probably not be an expert on your first go, so practice practice practice!
Natural looking tanned skin does not and should not need sunlight. If you want to avoid sun damage and learn more tips on self-tanning skincare, reach out to the experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates.
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