While we usually like to fake (not bake) our tans, there are plenty of reasons why we love the sun. It boosts levels of serotonin (nature's own Valium, proven to alleviate anxiety). Not only that but it produces vitamin D which is good for bones, teeth and skin. But to avoid premature ageing and skin cancer risks you need to take care for a safe, sun-kissed glow.
1. ALWAYS, ALWAYS AVOID SUNBEDS
Don't fall for the myth peddled by some salons that they can give you a 'healthy' tan with a sunbed. "It's the wrong UV – tanning beds pump out huge amounts of UVA and virtually no UVB (which stimulates vitamin D), and can increase your risk of skin cancer by 75 per cent" says Dr Nick Lowe.
2. APPLY THE RIGHT SUNSCREEN
Don't just rely on SPF; on the bottle you need to look for the term 'broad spectrum' or the UVA logo plus the word 'high'. We recommend La Roche-Posay Anthelios.
Go for SPF30 over SPF50. "It filters 97 per cent of UVB rays, while SPF50 filters 98%. The latter can give a false sense of security and can be so chalky you may not reapply it every two hours like you should.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF50+, Dhs79
3. UNDERSTAND YOUR TANNING TIME
Your skin reaches a tanning cut-off point when it physically can't produce any more melanin, the tanning pigment, so it's pointless to lounge by the pool all day. "Everyone has their own melanin cut-off, typically two to three hours or much less if you have fair skin" Dr Nick Lowe. After this you're just subjecting your skin to the risk of UV damage.
4. SEEK SOME SHADE
"Taking breaks from the sun will reduce UV intensity and your sunburn risk and means your tan will be healthier and longer-lasting" says Dr Frank Schwanke, head of suncare R&D for Beiersdorf.
5. SWAP 'TAN-ACCELERATING' CREAMS FOR SUPPLEMENTS
Skin cancer authority Dr Marko Lens says 'tan-accelerating' creams are no good. "Nothing you apply to your skin can improve the production of melanin, skin's protective dark pigment. But taking a daily 25g beta-caretone supplement can. It doesn't mean you need less sunscreen, but it boosts skin's natural defence against UV by improving its ability to tan."
Try Imedeen Tan Optimizer tablets which prepare the skin for the sun and protect cells from UV induced oxidative stress using a duo of antioxidants.
Imedeen Tan Optimizer, Dhs167
6. EAT SUN-FRIENDLY FOODS
Certain foods are known to increase lycopene, the skin's own SPF. An antioxidant found in tomatoes, and other red and orange fruit and veg, it can boost your sun protection by a whopping 33 per cent. One of the best sources is tomato paste – did someone say spag bol?
Dermatologist Dr Samantha Bunting says "I'm a big fan of a group of antioxidants called polyphenols. Green tea is a great example. Sip it after a sushi lunch." (Fish, rich in omega-3 has anti-inflammatory powers too).
Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids that can help protect against sunburn, while caffeine is thought to help cut your skin cancer risk. "It's best taken in an espresso shot right before you hit the beach" she says.
7. FAUX YOUR GLOW
Remember that fake tan offers no sun protection, but it can help you stop burning by easing the first day pale panic on holiday. Treat yourself to a spray tan before the big bikini reveal or find the perfect one to use at home with our round up of the best fake tans.
These are the best (streak-free) fake tans out there
BEST FAKE TAN: ST.TROPEZ SELF TAN EXPRESS BRONZE MOUSSE, Dhs109 If you want a long-lasting fake tan without having to wait around for hours whilst it develops, this one is for you. Leave it on for one hour for a light sun-kissed glow, two hours, for a medium tan and three hours for a deeper bronze. The golden shade is one of the most flattering we've found...
BEST FAKE TAN: SIENNA X HIGH INTENSITY EXPRESS TAN, Dhs120 If your limbs are looking a bit worse for wear (pale, dry, flakey) then this consider this your all-in-one beautifier. It'll smooth the skin, moisturise any dry patches and gives a golden glow in as little as an hour. Where has this been all our lives?
BEST FAKE TAN: VITA LIBERATA 2-3 WEEK TAN, Dhs140 Three weeks is a bold claim, but honestly, this stuff is pretty immovable. It has no tell-tale smell and a beautiful creamy texture - and that's not to mention the deep, natural colour. Perfect before a holiday or for lazy girls who can't be bothered to touch up.
BEST FAKE TAN: NKD SKN PRE-SHOWER 10 MINUTE TAN, Dhs67 This. Is. Genius. Simply apply all over your bod, wait ten minutes then hop in the shower. The guide colour will rinse of (aka the mega-dark bit) and leave you with a soft bronze that'll develop over the course of the day. Game changer!
BEST FAKE TAN: GARNIER BB BODY BRONZER, Dhs25 Commitaphobe? Try a wash-off tan. Perfect for when you only need to tan the bits of you on show (hey, we all do it), this blurring tan has the effect of a BB cream, so it'll smooth any imperfections while adding a sun-kissed glow. Lasts until you shower it off.
BEST FAKE TAN: ST TROPEZ GRADUAL TAN TINTED, Dhs72 Chuck out your body lotion - this is all you need this summer. Sure, it will gradually add colour, but this clever fake tan also has blurring particles, to help soften the appearance of any lumps, bumps and scrapes, and generally make your legs look #flawless. Our tip? Always apply gradual tans with a mitt to ensure perfectly smooth application.
BEST FAKE TAN: XEN TAN TRANSFORMATION ULTRA, Dhs 272 If you need to be tanned FAST (like last-minute-beach-trip-date-fast), this is what you need. It applies clear, but will develop in as little as an hour (leave it on for up to three for a deep tan) before you can rinse it off and enjoy the shade. The best bit? Even after you rinse, it will keep developing, so you literally only need an hour, a quick shower, and boom, your tan is a-cooking. Win win.
BEST FAKE TAN: TAN LUXE THE WATER, Dhs158 A fake tan water, you say?! Yes, you read that right. Sounds crazy, but it's actually brilliant. With a silky-soft feel, zero transfer and a natural finish, we are obsessed with this bad boy. It's quick-drying, so you can spray on in the AM, head out to work and the colour will develop over 2-4 hours, without any tell-tale smell or prints.
BEST FAKE TAN: RIMMEL SUN SHIMMER GRADUAL TAN & TONING, Dhs34 If you're nervous about fake tanning or want something super natural, go for a gradual tan. This argan oil-infused offering from Rimmel will leave your limbs soft and supple, with a colour that builds with every use.
H/T Cosmo UK