Think dangerous UV light is the only way to get a natural tan? Think again. Although melanin is the pigment most commonly associated with bronzed beauty, carotenoids can also influence the color of your skin.
Upping your intake of beta-carotene-rich foods like carrots, cantaloupe, peppers, apricots, and even green veggies like spinach can give fair skin a more golden glow in as little as one month. British researchers have even determined that volunteers prefer the look of the carotenoids’ effect over that of melanin.
Some experts do warn, however, that eating excessive amounts of these fruits and vegetables can cause your palms to look unusually orange-as if you applied self-tanner and forgot to wash your hands. You may also find that the golden shade you’re hoping for turns out more like a jaundice-like yellow, depending on your starting skin tone.
That said, attempting a tan by way of beta-carotene is arguably far healthier than baking in the sun or a tanning bed, not only because you spare yourself aging and cancer-causing photodamage, but because these fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in antioxidants.
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