Tan-fastic! The right way to sun your buns

Not everyone is fortunate enough to live in a sun-dappled clime. I happen to live in Florida, and yes, right on the coast, so I revel almost year-round in balmy breezes, starry nights, and the most sought-after of all: hot, sunny beach days.

The quest for the ultimate tan (and I don’t mean the charcoaled, over-60-Miami Beach-matron look) can be had easily, even if you don’t live in such paradise as I do. One question: what is the deal with tanning salons? It’s like sitting inside a Proctor Silex toaster for an hour.

A safe tan can be yours too, without the American Board of Dermatology chewing your ass about melanoma and wrinkles. If you follow my advice, and I’ve had years of trial-and-error practice, you’ll end up looking radiant and luscious, with minimum effort.

“But I’m too pale to go on the beach in my bikini!” Ok, this is one lament that I never understood. So your current color is closer to Tori Amos than Torii Hunter? Well, that’s the whole reason to get some sun, right? You have to start somewhere. If the very idea of heading out to the shore looking like a vanilla wafer gives you the willies, let’s begin here. Getting started is the hardest part. But it doesn’t have to be trauma. Smart chicks respect the sun. They don’t expect to brown in one day

You’ll need the tools of the tanning trade:
A bottle or tube of really good self-tanner (May I recommend Banana Boat spray-on, in Medium) Moisturizer, or baby oil A loofah, bath scrubbie, or body scrub Good sun tanning lotion or gel, with a mid-range SPF A spray bottle

We’ll do this in steps, so follow me now:

Step 1: Exfoliate

Take that loofah and scrub yourself clear of old, dead skin. Your self-tanner won’t cling to you if it’s just going to flake off. If you exfoliate, you’ll prolong your pre-tan. Rinse with lukewarm water in the shower or tub. Hot water tends to dry your skin, and you’ll be back in the same boat.

Regard your self-tanner as your new buddy. I prefer the spray tanner because it’s easier to use, especially when tanning my back. Plus the stream covers more skin, and spreads more easily than the lotion-style. Give yourself ample time to be naked so you can dry. Do laundry, dance, or whatever. It should dry in about 20 minutes so you can then get dressed.

Reapply later in the day to add another dimension of deeper color.
Now you should be ready to hit the beach on Day 2 without shame — and to work on the “real” tan.

Step 2: Sunbathe

Smart chicks respect the sun. They don’t expect to brown in one day. It takes a good long summer to cultivate a healthy tan. Anyone who thinks they can do it in a weekend by staying in the sun all day, is literally playing with fire. If you can, limit yourself to between one and three hours per weekend day. Mister Sun is one big bad dude, and this objective is to get golden, not burnt to a crisp like a campfire weenie.

Slather your fake-tan bod in the suntan oil/lotion of your choice. Be generous. Flip yourself over every 30 minutes or so, or whatever you can tolerate. If the heat from the sun is ungodly, you can fill your spray bottle with fresh water and spritz yourself every so often to refresh yourself and re-smooth your lotion.

Step 3: Moisturize

In order to keep both tans, fake and real, in optimum shape, it is essential to stay smooth and supple (to keep your hard-earned tan from flaking off!). Use your favorite moisturizer after every shower or bath. Dry skin is the enemy of a good tan. Moisture, moisture, moisture, inside and out: drink lots of water, and give your epidermis the liquids it needs, too.

Repeat the process as often as needed throughout the summer. It gets easier as your become accustomed to it, and the effort will get you noticed, guaranteed!

Kristi Siegel See all posts by this author
lives and writes in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida.
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