Be Sun Smart – How to Get a (Healthy!) Sun-Kissed Glow
The weather is warming up and the time is coming for us to stow away our sweaters and pull out the shorts and capris. Showing more skin can be a little nerve-wracking, though – especially with the still-pale skin that winter leaves us with.
There’s no doubt about it: a tan can really boost self-confidence. Having a tan can make you look slimmer and more vibrant. A tan can also minimize stretch marks and the appearance of veins.
Unfortunately, baking in the sun is known to cause melanoma (skin cancer) and premature wrinkles. In fact, in terms of skin damage, according to some, a tan is just as bad as a sun burn!
What’s The Harm?
The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which are categorized into three types of harmful rays, two of which can damage our skin: long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB). To keep it simple, UVA rays are the rays that cause aging and UVB rays are what can burn us. Clearly, it’s important to protect our skin from both!
UVC, the third type of rays, are absorbed by the ozone layer and don’t reach the Earth – which is fortunate since they are the most powerful UV rays!
Protecting Your Skin
Wearing large brimmed hats and sunglasses in the sunshine can help protect your face from harmful UV rays. Long sleeves and pants or skirts that cover up your skin is also a good form of protection- choose thin, light fabrics to stay cool. Fortunately there are a lot of stylish options for clothing and accessories that can help protect your skin!
Wearing sunscreen is also crucial. Use a sunblock with SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher and reapply often! Be sure to choose a toxin-free, natural sunblock – your skin absorbs the products you put on your skin so it’s absolutely vital that you use pure personal care products that don’t send harmful chemicals into your bloodstream! Oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate and PABA are all sunscreen ingredients you want to avoid: a few are shown to disrupt hormone balance and some are linked to cancer. Ecolani, Lotus Moon and Avalon all formulate sunscreens that use minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients rather than chemical barriers.
Last, avoid direct sunlight in the middle of the day, when the sun’s rays are strongest. Stay in the shade as much as you can between 10AM and 4PM.
Non-toxic Tanning: Natural Options
Luckily, it’s still possible to get a fantastic, glowing tan by using sunless tanning lotions, or “fake baking.” These are not your mother’s tanning potions – they have come such a long way. We no longer have to resort to settling for orange skin in lieu of achieving the glowing bronze we really want.
Since the aim here is a healthy tan, I have to address the need for natural, toxin-free products again. Since so many harmful chemicals such as parabens and fragrances are found in standard versions, slathering them all over your skin to be absorbed into your bloodstream isn’t exactly ideal. Parabens have shown the ability to mimic estrogen, disrupt hormones. They are even linked to cancer.
Fortunately, natural, toxin free options exist all over the market. You can find all natural options for everything from shampoo to the top anti-aging skin care products. Self-tanner is no exception. Choose a natural product like the self-tanners from Fresh Indulgence or Nature’s Gate.
Get a Perfect Sunless Tan!
Some sunless tanning products like the gradual lotions are pretty fool-proof. You can just apply those like you do any other moisturizer (skip them, though, if you just shaved) as long as you remember to wash your hands afterward!
The darker lotions that offer quicker results are still really easy to use, but here are a few tips that will help you get a perfect tan that no one will believe is sunless:
- Exfoliate. Use a loofah or washcloth to buff away dead skin cells before you apply your tanning lotion so that it goes on evenly and beautifully.
- Skip shaving. Wait a day after you shave to apply sunless tanning products to avoid irritating your skin.
- Moisturize first. Apply a non-greasy moisturizer all over your body and let it sink in for a few minutes before fake baking. Being super moisturized helps the tanning lotion go on more evenly and prevents flaking that results in patchy color.
- Dry completely before getting dressed! This part can be a little awkward, ladies. You need to be completely dry before you get dressed, otherwise you’ll ruin your clothes and your tan! My suggestion? Keep a book handy and use this time to get a chapter in.
Melissa Cameron is the mother of two young children and is married to her best friend, Dave. She enjoys scrap-booking, bargain hunting and writing and is chronically curious; she loves learning new things and will research anything under the sun – from family life to Zeolite supplements.