Are you the subtly sun-kissed type? Or the-bronzer-the-better kind of gal? Either way you can have your tan and save your skin (and health) too. Your glow will have friends asking, Is that a fake tan or the real deal?
A real tan may look great. But the sun spots, wrinkles, and parched skin that follow do not. You don’t have to look like Casper all summer to keep your skin healthy. Natural self tanners are the best way to achieve a natural-looking tan, sans the chemicals and damaging UV rays.
Chemical spray tans and self tanning products contain synthetic Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and/or dyes to give skin a tanned look. Most conventional tanners also contain other harmful ingredients, like petro-chemicals, silicones, and synthetic preservatives and fragrance.
Natural tanners use a plant-derived DHA, often from sugar beets or cane sugar. The fermented sugars react with amino acids on the top layer of skin, which creates a tanned look. Safe tanning options should also be free from synthetic ingredients.
As for self tanning lotion versus spray tanning. Spray tans have become very popular, with everyone from celebs to housewives going in for a quick boost of color. But spray tans carry an inhalation risk, even those claiming to be all natural can come with a health advisory from the (often MIA where cosmetics are concerned) FDA. In other words, stick with the lotion to avoid possible health risks associated with spray tans.
You are probably wondering about pros and cons of natural self tanning lotions. Questions like:
Do natural self tanning lotions provide a natural looking tan? The short answer ... Yes! Natural tanning lotions provide very natural color. As good or better than the conventional stuff. As a test, I recently took one for the team and used a chemical drugstore brand (Jergen's). The verdict? I actually like my natural brand better. Less greasy and not as heavy, plus the tan is identical.
Are natural self tanners easy to use? As easy as applying facial moisturizer or lotion. And no streaks or orange-hued skin. The best approach to applying natural tanner to body: Start with clean, freshly exfoliated skin. Apply to smaller areas at a time (calves, thighs, stomach…) and work your way up. A light swipe over ankles, knees and elbows means product won’t concentrate and show up darker on these thicker skinned areas.
How long will it take for my tan to show up? Most products say anywhere from 2-4 hours, which seems about right. I have read that it takes less time for chemical tanners to show a tan, but have not experienced a significant difference either way.
How long will my tan last? Usually labels say your tan will last from 3-10 days, but I recommend applying the day before you want to look tan.
Are natural tanners gentle on skin? No harsh synthetics means a gentler product. Many natural brands also include antioxidant and anti-aging ingredients too.
Do I have to use moisturizer with my natural facial tanner? Nope. Natural self tanners for face are made with the same plant oils as natural moisturizers. Take a break from your regular moisturizer the day you apply tanner and, as with body, start with clean, freshly exfoliated skin.
Fake Tan Product Picks
Lavera Sunless Tanning Lotion is an award winner for a reason. Super natural looking color, goes on like the lightest lotion, smells terrific, and so easy to apply. Gotta love this one!
True Natural makes tanners for face and body with tone options. They even have one with shimmer, if you are feeling extra fancy.
Chocolate Sun comes in a variety of tan color options for face and body. A full range of products for beautiful summer skin.
Alima Pure Bronzer If you’d rather not deal with self tanners or are just looking for a quick summer glow, mineral bronzer is the answer. A dusting of this light powder takes the edge off of pale skin.
RMS Beauty Buriti Bronzer For color that glistens try this cream bronzer. Super natural looking, use to add warmth or enhance your natural tan.
*Disclaimer: We've included some affiliate links above in case you need to purchase any of these products. Our site is dedicated to helping people live a healthy and conscious lifestyle and affiliate links are a way to generate revenue in support of our mission.
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Image of woman with summer glow via Shutterstock