Tan Obsessed: “I Have Another Puzzle for You”

Get a tan without damaging your skin. How does one do that, you ask? You fake it.

I have very pale skin. So, in turn, when I have to wear a dress or some other get-up that shows a little skin, I feel really self-conscious.

Instead of making the drive to a salon, spending my money, and lying in a human sized oven, I prefer to use a sunless tanning product. Elise Danh, licensed cosmetologist and esthetician, said sunless tanning is better for your skin anyway.

The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Dermatology said indoor tanning is similar to smoking cigarettes – “it will cause cancer,” according to the New York Times

However, the New York Times also reported that other studies have had different results.

According to the Federal government’s National Toxicology Program, broad-spectrum ultraviolet radiation, whether from sunlight or sun lamps, is a known cause of melanoma and less deadly forms of skin cancer.

Yet, when it came to ultraviolet light causing skin cancer, The Food and Drug Administration’s Working Group on Sunlamps found that evidence was inconclusive --although there was a suggested link between the two.

Just to be on the safe side, I think I’ll stick with the sunless tan.

For those of you joining me, here is some information and helpful tips when using sunless tanning products from Danh.

Exfoliate before getting a spray tan or applying tanning lotions.

If you don’t exfoliate, your skin may be more scaly and flakey after applying the sunless tan, Danh said.

Exfoliating takes off dead skin cells and stimulates the skin so that it will absorb the product deeper, giving better results.

St. Ive’s Apricot Scrubs is one suggestion.

After you shower and exfoliate, pat your body dry with a towel. Then, apply a hydrating lotion to your damp skin, paying special attention to the rougher areas of your body such as the knees, elbows, and heels.

Give the hydrating lotion a chance to set in. Products with coconut oil and shea butter are good lotions to use. 

Now it’s time for a tan. (I suggest putting on latex gloves for this part. This advice comes from my own experience -- I’m no beauty professional).

Danh said start by applying one layer of the sunless tan to the flat areas of your body: calves, thighs, arms, neck, etc.

Then go back and apply a small amount to the rough spots – your heels, elbows, and knees. A small amount means less than the rest of your body. This is because the rougher areas will take to the product (become darker) more than the rest of your body, Danh explained.

Make sure you massage the sunless tan into the skin in order to avoid streaks and uneven application, Dahn said.

Let your body air-dry.

You can do another layer once your skin dries ONLY if you are using a gradual tanning product like Jergen’s Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer or Neutrogena Build-a-Tan, according to Danh.

If you are using a product like L’Oreal’s Sublime Bronze, which will give you instant results and make your skin dark right away, one layer should do it.

You can put the gradual sunless tan on every other day until you achieve your desired color. Use it once a week after that.

Finally, Danh stresses (and I mean stresses!) how important it is to use a moisturizer/lotion with SPF.

Danh said sitting at my desk under the fluorescent lights all day is having an effect on my skin. Yikes, I didn’t even realize.

Authors from the American Journal of Epidemiology have concluded that fluorescent light exposure remains a potential risk factor for melanoma.

Elise Thuy-Hang Danh is a licensed cosmetologist and esthetician. Click here to read more about Elise in "The Face Behind the Make-Up"

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