As you’re probably already aware, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause all sorts of problems for your skin, including rashes, allergies, discoloration, sunburn and many others. And yet, you don’t want to spend the summer like a hermit and rock the Casper look for three months, all in the name of sun protection.
Well, you can still lock that sun-kissed look, as long as you take a few precautionary measures. With a little bit of patience and know-how, it’s entirely possible to rock a bronzed look while keeping your skin healthy and protected.
Exfoliate Your Skin
A lot of the times, our skin doesn’t tan fully or does so unevenly due to the various buildup that accumulates on its surface.
Dead skin cells, tiny hairs and daily grime are all clogging up the pores on your face and body and preventing the rays from getting to your skin.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to rid your skin of the unnecessary outer layers. This step will facilitate the sun rays to reach to your skin, but also prep your skin for all the moisturizing and other after sun care products.
There is a number of ways you can exfoliate your skin. When it comes to your body, you can choose stronger scrubs and exfoliators, as skin from the neck down is thicker and less prone to ripping.
Go for a body scrub enriched with natural exfoliants or opt for one of the tools that will help wipe off all the dead cells, such as mitts, loofas or body brushes.
You should avoid using any overly astringent formulas on your face. A better option for this area of the skin would be chemical exfoliators, such as AHAs or BHAs, as they can effectively remove buildup of dirt and dead skin while simultaneously promoting cell turnover and growth of new skin.
The best time to exfoliate your skin is the night before you plan on sunbathing. After you’ve exfoliated, make sure to lather up on moisturizer on your face as well as your body, so you don’t end up with water-deprived skin.
Avoid Peak Sunlight Hours
Tanning without running the risk of sun-induced skin damage is all about patience and planning.
This means that you can’t just go out to the beach at noon and expect to tan in a matter of minutes.
On the contrary, this might be the worst way to go about your tanning routine, as you will likely end up with sunburn and not-so-flattering “tan”.
When sun is at its peak (usually between 11 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon) is when the ultraviolet rays are at their most damaging.
This means that exposing yourself to the sun in this time frame can wreak havoc on the skin and increase your chances of developing more serious conditions.
That’s why it’s best to simply avoid direct sun exposure during those hours, when possible. And for all those occasions when you can’t avoid it, make sure to arm your self with appropriate sun protection.
Which brings us to our next point…
Apply Sunscreen Religiously
No talk of tanning is possible without mentioning sunscreen, the key to protecting your skin and securing a healthy tan.
Investing in a good sunscreen will not only protect your skin from sunburn, it will also prevent the occurrence of premature signs of aging, such as dark spots, rough texture and fine lines.
That is why the use of sunscreen is not only recommended during the sizzling summer months, but also for the rest of the year.
Despite the widespread myth that your skin won’t tan when you have SPF on, being diligent with your sunscreen doesn’t mean you’ll prevent your chances of developing a gorgeous bronzed hue.
It just means you will be doing so at a more gradual pace and in a more protected environment.
In order to maximize on the benefits of your sunscreen, it’s crucial that you choose and apply your product properly.
Modern sunscreens can be categorized into physical and chemical blockers. The former act as reflectors on the skin that physically block the UV rays from penetrating into your skin. On the other hand, chemical sunscreens contain certain compounds, such as zinc and titanium oxide, that have the ability to transform ultraviolet rays into heat, then release them from the skin.
Which particular sunscreen you will choose should depend entirely on your preferences and your skin type.
For example, chemical sunscreens are said to offer better protection from ultraviolet radiation, but they tend to be more irritating on the skin, so you might to avoid them if your complexion tends to be on the more sensitive side.
On the other hand, with physical sunscreens, there is no escaping that ghostly white-greyish reflection that might disrupt your makeup.
When applying your sunscreen, make sure to do so about half an hour before exposing your skin to direct sunlight.
Take a generous amount and rub it into your face, neck, décolletage and any other areas that will be exposed to the sun.
Make sure to keep your sun blocker close while you’re out and about and re-apply regularly (every two to three hours), since the protective capabilities of SPF diminish over time.
Consider Physical Protection
Sunscreen isn’t the be all and end all of sun protection.
Amidst all the talk of what is the best possible sunscreen for your skin, people seem to forget the fact that you can also use a literal, physical shield for your face and your body.
When it comes to protecting the skin from the neck down, make sure to wear light, breathable clothes that will keep your skin covered, but not suffocating.
As for your face, any trip to the beach simply has to be accompanied with a chic, wide-brimmed hat that will turn you into a bona fide resort diva.
And to compliment your stylish headwear, make sure to accessorize with a pair of oversized sunglasses. They will protect your peepers from sun’s harmful UV rays, but also prevent you from squinting and reduce the chances of fine lines and wrinkles forming around your eye area.
Tanning is all fine and dandy, but what happens when you start noticing dark patches on your skin?
That’s right, increased sun exposure can lead to increased production of melanin, skin’s natural pigment, in your face and body.
In real life terms, this means that all those dark blemishes and spots on your face will become even more pronounced after hours spent in the sun.
That’s why people who are suffering from melasma, hyperpigmentation and other forms of skin discoloration should be extra careful when they go out in the sun.
Special attention should be paid to the affected areas, which means that high-SPF sunscreen is a must if you don’t want your pigmented areas to become even more noticeable.
If the damage is already done, you can try to minimize and fade the dark areas through regular exfoliation that will help wipe away the surface layer of hyperpigmented patches.
Moreover, try treating the pigmented parts using products infused with Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that acts as a natural complexion brightener.
Keep Flare-ups at Bay
Individuals with hyperpigmentation are not the only ones who should take extra cautionary measures when out and about in the sun.
If your skin is prone to irritation, you should also provide it with extra protection during scorching summer days.
People who suffer from rosacea and other conditions closely linked to hypersensitive complexion are probably already aware that direct sun exposure can only further aggravate their skin.
Therefore, securing an effective, hypoallergenic sun blocker is the key to nailing a nice tan without causing your skin to act up.
When it comes to sunscreen, this means opting for physical formulas, as they are less likely to cause irritation due to lack of aggressive chemical components. Moreover, hats and sunglasses can also be used to shield sensitive skin from sun rays.
Switch Up Your Diet
Even though it might seem like tanning is entirely an external affair, how you treat your body from within can actually greatly influence how receptive your skin is to sun’s rays.
The food we consume every day has the ability to increase (or diminish) our ability to tan in a healthy, optimal way.
That’s why it’s important to replenish your summer meals with all those sun-friendly foods that will help your skin achieve that gorgeous bronzed glow in the most natural way possible.
And if you’re not sure what the right ingredients for this purpose are, it might be helpful to know that beta-carotene is the key ingredient to look out for.
This potent antioxidant has the ability to increase your chances of developing a tan and create a beautiful, golden hue to your skin.
Some foods that represent a rich source of beta-carotene include:
- Sweet potatoes
Once you stock up on these tan-ready goodies, not only will your skin be more equipped to develop that lovely hue, you will also be replenishing your body with a host of good-for-you nutrients that will benefit your skin and your overall health.
Indulge in Post-Tanning Care
The journey to healthy tan doesn’t end when you get to the shade.
On the contrary, establishing a dedicated after-sun routine can be key to really nailing the beautiful bronzed goddess look.
This is because our skin tends to dry out when it comes into direct contact with the sun.
As a result, you might experience increased flakiness, rough patches and emphasized imperfections on the skin.
Moreover, spending hours lounging in the sun without proper protection will likely cause some irritation in form of redness or tender skin.
That’s why a crucial step in your after sun regimen should be thorough moisturization.
By keeping your skin on your face and your body hydrated, you will prevent signs of sun damage and contribute to a faster healing process in case you suffered irritation.
To soothe skin that had spent prolonged periods of time soaking up the rays, look for products with natural cooling agents. These include:
- Aloe Vera
- Green tea
If your skin isn’t acutely inflamed, but you are experiencing more pronounced dryness, you will want to look for creams and lotions that are enriched with components that promote accelerated skin repair.
Some of the most effective ingredients for restoring your complexion include:
- Hyaluronic acid
These agents will replenish your skin with precious H2O and contribute to a quicker restoration of the dermis.
Fake It Until You Make It
Finally, it should be said that obtaining a bronzed glow can require precisely zero minutes spent in the sun.
That’s right: today, there is no lack of sunless tanning methods that can help you achieve that healthy shade to your skin.
One of the most popular ones are self-tanning creams, which can be applied on the body and the face, locking in the tanned look for up to a week.
Moreover, if you only care about rocking a tan on your face, this can be achieved with a couple of makeup tips.
First off, instead of your regular foundation or BB cream, you can use a bronzing gel that will make your skin a couple of shades darker. Since these provide little to no coverage, you can proceed to correct blemished, under eye circles and other imperfections using a concealer in the matching color.
Take a bronzer (one that doesn’t have a lot of shimmer in it) and apply it in sweeping motions on the outer areas of the face using a wide powder brush. And voila – that’s all you need for that “fresh from vacation” look.
We hope these useful tips and tricks have showed that tanning doesn’t have to come at a cost of sun-damaged skin. With a good sunscreen in your hands and a heap of patience, we are positive you will be able to nail that beautiful, sun-kissed look without harming your skin in the process.