Are the short, chilly winter days leaving you looking like Frosty the Snowman’s twin?
It’s hard to hold on to that healthy summer glow when you haven’t seen sun for a while. With the holiday party season revving up, there’s nothing worse than seeing just how pale and pasty you’re looking in your LBD every time someone posts new pics on FaceBook!
What can you do to keep your skin looking great through the holidays and beyond? Tanning beds will brown your skin and warm you up, but they’ll also damage your skin and age you. While there are great treatments (like Botox and Dysport) to address those little lines on your face when they begin to appear, there’s no reason to speed up the skin aging process unnecessarily.
These days, doctors agree that the best, safest way to avoid looking pasty, at any time of the year, is to use a sunless tanner.
Read on to learn about how sunless tanners work and why they’re your best bet to bring back some summer sun in the snow!
What’s the difference between a sunless tanner and a bronzer?
Bronzers are a temporary sunless tanning or bronzing option that normally doesn’t contain DHA. These come in powders, sprays, mousse, gels, lotions and moisturizers. Once applied, they create a tan that can easily be removed with soap and water. Like make-up, these products tint or stain your skin only until they are washed off.
You can opt for an airbrush tan, which is typically done by a professional. They can last five to ten days depending on how often you shower. At-home airbrush tanning kits, gels, lotions, and aerosol mists are also now available and are an easy, affordable option as well.
How do sunless tanners work?
Sunless tanners contain an active ingredient called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is actually a sugar that interacts with the amino acids in your skin’s outer layer (the epidermis). This essentially stains the cells on the surface to a darker color, making you look tan without ever having been exposed to even a ray of sunlight.
Do sunless tanners give you a “real” tan?
Nope. Since the reaction caused by DHA occurs only on your skin’s surface and not deep down like a suntan, the bronzing effects of sunless tanners generally wear off after about three to seven days as your skin renews itlself. Basically, the more you exfoliate your skin, the faster your tan will fade, but it’s not going to wash off on its own when you work up a sweat on the dance floor or take a shower.
Are sunless tanners safe?
One of the dangers of sunless tanners is the false sense of security you can fall prey to. If you use a sunless tanner, remember to be careful when you go back outside. Fake tans won’t protect you against sunburns. The mild protection that your usual “base tan” gives you comes from melanin, which is produced as a result of sun exposure, not from DHA. As always, wear an SPF every day, regardless of the weather.
Also, the risks of inhaling DHA are unknown. It is recommended to cover your eyes and mouth while getting a spray tan. Always choose a facility that has good ventilation and can provide you with their product information.
Which sunless tanners give the most natural color?
Jergens Natural Glow ($7.89, target.com) is an excellent option for the price. You can use it every day and it slowly gives your skin color. It will also give you the added bonus of a moisturizer too.
If you want to keep your glow just where it shows, try a product meant for flaunting your favorite feature. We love Tarte’s Glam Gams ($30, sephora.com) for slimming our legs and letting us lose ugly ‘hose. A little bronzer swept over your forehead and cheeks can pick up even the palest palor. Try blending a sprinkle of Bare Escentual’s Warmth ($18, bareescentuals.com) into your regular foundation or moisturizer for a healthy touch of sun.
Why Go Fake When I Can Go “Au Naturel”?
Many people prize their ability to sunbathe without burning. You can spend entire summers pursuing that much-coveted, hard-won “perfect tan” all the fashion magazines rave about, but under all the hype lies an inconvenient truth. Even people who don’t sunburn can get skin cancer and prolonged,repeated exposure to UV rays will cause your skin to deteriorate over time no matter what your complexion is.
Sunless tanners may not boost your melanin or last as long as a suntan, but they will give you all the glow without making your skin “old”. If you think about it, that’s really the point of getting a tan anyway, to make your skin look fantastic. This is one of those rare times where the fake is even better than the real thing, so go for the faux!