Although it’s not officially summertime, many regions of the country with cold winters are already experiencing hot sunshine and warm evening breezes. Those located in yearlong warm climates might not notice much a difference – yet. But the sun is stronger and melanoma is nothing to mess around with, especially since many skin cancers are preventable.
One of the easiest ways is being smart about your sun exposure. Rather than bask in the sun all day to achieve that summertime glow, you can have a natural looking, healthy tan at home.
A History of Sunless Tanning
After officials confirmed links between UV rays and skin cancer in the 1960s, health-conscious individuals turned to tanning creams to achieve their glow. Even women in the early 1940s used tea bags to attempt and stain their skin. The “Man Tan” was the first sunless tanning product. One of the main ingredients, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), was used to react with the proteins in skin’s outermost layer (or epidermis), resulting in a brownish tint.
Sunless tanners get a bad reputation because they used to cause an orangey glare rather than the sexy bronzed look. Today, most brands have revamped their production to include more DHA and fewer chemicals that cause discoloration or unwanted odors.
Sunless tanners come in many shapes and forms, primarily lotions, gels, and sprays. Some are semi-permanent while others are intended to bronze and wash off like regular makeup. The problem with wash-off methods is the potential for them to transfer onto clothes. Your body sweats more than your face most of the time, so any kind of perspiration will result in noticeable streaking.
Most semi-permanent methods dry within 4 to 8 hours, so as long as you don’t sweat or shower, your tan should gradually increase in a natural fashion. While sprays are easier to apply, they are usually completed at a salon and require you to dress right away – before the product has the chance to fully set. Plus, you’ll get a better return on investment with a high-quality sunless tanner at home that lasts for multiple applications versus individually purchased spray tans. If you desire a natural-looking tan without overspending, consider the at-home method: sunless lotions and gels.
How to Properly Apply Self Tanner
The sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look tan, consider using a self tanner instead. Following these basic tips will help you get even coverage and longer lasting results.
- Exfoliate the skin, which means remove dead skin cells, with a washcloth. Spend more time exfoliating in areas where skin is thickest, including elbows, ankles, and knees.
- Dry your skin thoroughly.
- Massage the sunless tanner into the skin using a uniform circular motion.
- Apply the self tanner in sections, starting with your arms, legs, then trunk. Then, apply in a downward motion from wrists to hands and ankles to feet.
Tip: To avoid having orange-colored palms, do not apply self tanner on the palms and soles and wash hands each time you’re finished with a body part. To decrease absorption on the knees, ankle and elbows, dilute self tanner, by lightly rubbing these areas with a damp towel or applying a lotion.
- Wait at least 10 minutes before getting dressed. Wear loose clothing and avoid sweating for the next three hours.
To hide streaks, start with a gradual tanning product. Once you are used to the process, you can use a more immediate tanning product for faster results. Keep in mind – sunless tanner is not intended to protect you from harmful rays. Always apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher before venturing out in the sun.
Stay Healthy This Summer!
No matter what your preferred method of tanning is, regularly check yourself for melanoma. For more information on early melanoma detection and treatment, contact Dr. Mariano Busso at 305-857-0144.