February 25, 2020
Is it possible to tan safely? In my opinion: yes. It’s about finding balance – I don’t think you need to never be able to sit in the sun to look after your skin.
Sun damage causes pretty much all skin issues – from pigmentation to wrinkles, to lack of collagen and elastin. So it’s easy to get scared of the sun if you’re conscious about your skin, and it’s why I wear SPF50 every damn day – even in grey and rainy London. If there’s light – then there’s sun rays. And don’t forget that screens also emit skin damaging rays, and I bet you look at those most of the day, too.
For me, lying in the sun (especially on holiday) makes me feel happy from the inside out, I also feel really well and sexy when I have a tan – two things that are really important for me. It is a wonderful, calming and meditative experience. It also tops up my Vitamin D which is often lacking due to living in London. Vitamin D helps your absorption of calcium which means strong and healthy bones, teeth and muscles. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (where grey and darkness affect your mood) and the sun – and Vitamin B3 – is something my body and brain crave to feel good. Alone, this is good enough reason for me to lie in the sun. But at the same time, I don’t want to end up damaging my skin.
I never put my face in direct sunlight. Mainly because it doesn’t really tan but also because I want to protect it from damage and keep my skin youthful for as long as possible. I wear a hat in summer and on the beach, and glasses too so that I don’t squint. If I’m heading abroad somewhere sunny I believe prep is the name of the game. If your skin isn’t used to sunlight it will likely be more sensitive at first (how many times have we all burned the first day away?) so I like to help my skin get ready 2 weeks before sun exposure. For this I use the Bronz Impulse spray that does this for me. It wakes up the melanin to activate the pigmentation process (aka, tanning) while also strengthening the skin’s natural defences to the sun. This not only means you won’t burn when you first go into the sun (of course, still wear protective SPF and stay out of the sun between 12-3pm) but it means your tan will be quicker, deeper and longer lasting. Once I’m back from a trip I use it again for a couple weeks (I use it all over once a day, you just mist it over your body so super easy to use) to keep my tan going. Sounds magical – and it really is. I can’t recommend this product enough because there really isn’t anything else like it out there. Exfoliating your skin the week before is a great idea for an even tan, too, as it eliminates any dead skin cells that cause uneveness in tone.
There seems to be a myth that the lower Sun Protective Factor, the better your tan. I’d say it’s more like, the better your burn… which eventually turns into a tan. This is, of course, damaging your skin. The age old rule is that you multiply the amount of time it takes your skin to burn (which may be, say, 10 minutes) by the SPF number. So 10 x 30 = 300 minutes of protection. Personally, I think 5 hours is far too long to not re-apply sun protection. Plus, most people have no idea how long it actually takes their skin to burn. It may only show up hours later but it likely sets in a couple minutes after your sun exposure. I would always recommend re-applying SPF in direct sun every hour, and anytime after your swim or sweat, and this means both face and body.
I would say the higher the SPF, the better your tan. If you burn your skin then you have just taken the top layer of your skin off. Yes, it may happen quicker, but it will also go quicker. A good, deep tan may take a day or so longer to appear, but it will last a lot longer as it is several layers of skin deep, not just the superficial layer.
Below I’ve listen some of my favourite products for each step of your tan. It goes without saying to also hydrate your skin everyday too.