By now it’s a no-brainer that the only way to get a safe, sun-kissed tan is to fake it. “Today’s self-tanner formulas go on smoother, absorb faster and give better, more realistic results,” says Montclair, NJ, dermatologist Jeanine B. Downie, MD. And, with the multitude of offerings that are available, getting a golden bronze—minus the sun—is easier than ever if you follow these tips.
Set the Foundation
Always apply self-tanner to well-exfoliated, moisturized skin to prevent streaking.
Start off gradually and build color with additional layers, applying tanner evenly across the entire face and body. Go lightly on areas that tend to pick up more color like your elbows and feet.
Wear sunscreen. Most self-tanners don’t provide protection from harmful UV rays unless an SPF rating is specified on the package. Some supplements are claiming to help offer sun protection. Studies show that Polypodium leucotomos, a fern extract used in over-the-counter supplements like HelioCare, SunPill and FernBlock, delivers a dose of antioxidants, that, when taken orally, help the skin protect itself against the effects of the sun and provide a sort of “internal” sunblock. “I’ve seen patients who have melasma benefit greatly from taking these types of pills,” says Dr. Downie. And now, a new drug from Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals, Scenesse, claims to deliver a sun-kissed glow sans exposure to damaging UV rays. Drawing on the science behind the naturally occurring alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone, which causes pigmentation following sun exposure, Scenesse works to boost melanin content in the skin while also protecting against UV damage. The pigmentation is said to appear after two days and last for up to two months.
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