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Ask Andi: How Do I Make My Summer Tan Last All Year Long?

Hi Andi!

Is there any way to prolong my tan? I know I could go to the tanning salon, but I’m not really into that. Is there some secret trick or product to make my summer glow turn into a winter one?

-Fading Summer or After Glow

Dear Fading Summer or After Glow,

Although you seem pretty decided on not going to a tanning salon, I want to include all the information that I have for your benefit and for all of my other lovely readers’ knowledge.

Who doesn’t love being tan? Our skin looks and feels firmer, we don’t have to wear make-up often, and our cute little freckles come out to say hello.  The only thing more heartbreaking than kissing a sweet sunny summer goodbye, is watching the sunshine fade from our skin.  The good part is there are options to maintain your tan.

Indoor Tanning

If you chose to try indoor (Ultra Violet bed) tanning, you will find it is a great way to not only maintain your tan, but to deepen it as well.  Indoor tanning is a quick and convenient way to stay island bronzed no matter the season. A few minutes in a UV bed can be equivalent to hours in natural sunlight.

However, all shortcuts come with some risks.  As you should know, tanning can damage your skin by causing it to burn, age prematurely, cause wrinkles, and even cause damage as severe as skin cancer!  Plus, indoor tanning is not always easy on your wallet.

Sunless Tan

A healthy and safe way to maintain your glow is to try sunless tan or self tanner.  Sunless tan comes in a variety of methods.  One option is going to your local tanning salon and scheduling a spray-tan.  Many salons offer services where a professional sprays your body with dihydroxyacetone (DHA) formula, which reacts with your skin cells to produce a color change that can last five to seven days. Other salons also have an automatic spray-tan chamber where the same deed is done by a machine, such as Mystic Tan.

The same DHA formulas are made available for use at home in sprays and creams such as L’oréal Sublime Bronze tinted lotion; which provides an instant bronzed look, or such as Jergen’s Natural Glow Moisturizer; which is a more diluted source of DHA, allowing you to gradually build your desired level of tan through multiple uses.

Sunless tanning is great because you do not risk harming your skin.  The downside is, that sunless tanning can be costly when done in a salon and, in some cases, it can fade faster than UV generated tans.  Also, sunless tanning methods can appear blotchy when not applied carefully.  Many women also report that home methods of sunless tan make them look orange.

Taking Care By Moisturizing

If neither of these options appeals to you, one final option is quite simple: take care of your skin!  Moisturizing 2-4 times daily, depending on your skin type, is essential for maintaining a tan.  Healthy moisturized skin cells will live longer than dry, neglected ones.  When your skin cells die, they turn into ashy flakey cells that your body sheds.  Just like you lose individual hairs throughout the day, you also shed skin cells.  When cells die and shed, new skin cells generate, only these ones may have less dark pigmentation (darker tone) than those previously exposed to long-term sunlight. The drier your skin is, the more rapidly your cells die and shed, and the quicker you lose your tan.  Keep in mind that constantly applying lotion will not prevent your cells from ever shedding or allow your tan last forever.  Moisturizing will, however, prolong your tan and prevent it from fading faster.  Even so, moisturizing your skin, along with eating right, resting and drinking plenty of water will make any shade of skin appear more even-toned and glowing. ?

All of these methods yield unique results and work differently for different people.  The most important fact is that you chose the option that is most comfortable and convenient for you, and for your health.  And remember, it is normal to want to preserve a tan- but when summer’s over there’s no need to sweat- we all get paler!  Light, fair, medium, or dark skinned- if you take care of your skin it will glow all year!

xoxo Andi

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