Health and Beauty by Jean Stratton

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Healthy Alternatives to the Sun: Tanning in the 21st Century

As much as you may want to, lying out in the sun for hours is no longer the way to get that golden glow. Who wants prematurely-aged skin (i.e. wrinkles and a cowboy-type leathery visage), not to mention deadly skin cancer?

Sad to say, those UV rays can do us in, and the tanning salons, once so popular, have become controversial. But before you envision a "ghostly" summer image and despite some fashion mags' "pale is in" reports, be assured that there are safe tanning alternatives. A sun-kissed look is always in style – especially for those sassy summer days, and now, a beautiful, healthy glow can be yours.

The new products offer a big change from the self-tanners of the past. Remember the orange skin with its stinky aroma from the tanners in a tube back when? Although safe tanning creams were just that – safe – the supposed healthy glow made of a lot of people strangely streaky and resemble orange peels or jaundice patients.

Now, companies have dramatically improved their formulas, and truth be told, it's hard to tell the difference between someone who has been lying out in the sun from one who has applied a self-tanner. The glow can often last from five to 10 days.

Still skeptical? Not convinced slathering on a tinted cream won't turn your skin orange or make you unpleasantly pungent? Look no further. Evidence abounds that today's state-of-the-art tanning technology can result in a terrific tan. Satisfied customers from celebrities to your local pharmacist attest to the effectiveness of these sprays, creams, and lotions. Faking it really is best these days.

Paige Petersen, owner of Rouge boutique, is enthusiastic about her tan, brought about by Philosophy self tanner.

Summer Glow

"The tan is just as beautiful as if I had been lying out in the sun. It's really perfect. We also carry a variety of bronzers and tinted moisturizers to give you a summer glow."

Careful application of the products helps to avoid streaks and splotches, and another tip is to choose a shade that most resembles your current color. Thorough washing and exfoliating the skin before is important before applying, so the product will adhere properly and have a smooth look. There may still be a hint of an odor with some, but you will surely not offend the olfactory senses of those around you.

Herewith is a sampling of some current favorites among a group of testers, all devotees of a terrific tan – an unscientific study, granted, but with results presented in the tanners' forthright, albeit paraphrased, style.

St. Tropez Self Tanning Cream: This self-tanner wins all of the top beauty awards, and there's a reason: the tinted cream lets you see exactly where it's going as you apply, so no waking up with that dreaded "oops, I missed a spot" horror. This brand is also the only one to make a self-tanner remover so mistakes can be easily resolved. (By the way, it may seem like a fabulous idea at the time, but don't tan after a night of margaritas with your gal pals!}

As anyone who has applied self-tanner can attest, this stuff really sticks to the skin and will not come off with a scalpel! Hence, we are comfortable calling this remover a breakthrough in scientific beauty.

A reminder: you must apply this at night, sleep on it, and then shower in the morning. Don't be afraid when the water turns a brownish-orange color – this is normal and will ensure an even, natural-looking tan.

Super Easy

SUN Self Tanning Spray: Don't we love it when product names ring true to their purpose? Yes, SUN will make you look as if you have been out in it all day (minus the nasty red burn spots). This spray is amazing! One of the best things about it is that it is super easy and fast to apply. Modeled after the Mystic Tan at salons, this is the ideal product to get the same results at home (minus the $$$).

The other nice thing about this product is it smells super after it's applied. It's such a nice change from those old smelly tanners. Really, this one is reminiscent of the way skin smells after you've been out in the sun – throw in a little natural floral breeze scent and you have it!

A tip for using this product: you can use it on your face, but just don't spray it on directly. Spray a bunch into your hands and then apply to the face. There you go! Unlike St. Tropez, you can apply this tanner at any time of day; just wait an hour or so before showering.

A lot of other tanning products are out there right now, too, and there is a big buzz about such marvels as L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning lotion, Neutrogena Build-a-Tan, Clarins Sheer Bronze Self Tanning Hydrating Gel for Face (especially good for sensitive skin), and Clinique Quick body Bronze Tinted Self-Tanner Mousse, among others.


The other hot item in tanning is the Mystic Tan spray tans, available in salons and health clubs nationwide. These ensure a perfectly even tan, especially for areas, such as your back, you can't reach with self tanners. We have seen the results, and it is a great idea for a big event or important vacation, when you don't want to look like a ghost in your bikini.

It's easy! Visit the salon of your choice, step into a booth, and tanner sprays from jets to cover your whole body. A few seconds of drying time, and you're done! Within hours, you have a beautiful streak-free tan. This is not inexpensive, but for special events, it is worth it.

If tanning in a tube or at the salon is still not for you, try getting the glow with a bronzer, available in powder, cream (stick or compact), or gel. An example is Lancome Hydra Flash Bronzer, a daily moisturizer with a dash of DHA (a simple sugar that browns skin cells).

The most natural-looking bronzers have predominantly brown tones with a touch of red, just like sun-tanned skin. Apply bronzer where the sun naturally hits your face – forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. The bronzer should blend easily and warm your face with a natural glow.

Some of the tanners and bronzers today contain SPF, but if not, sunscreen is a must.

Whatever your choice, you can surely find a tanning alternative that is best for you, and your "faux" tan will turn heads year-round. Then you can enjoy the real thing in moderation, knowing that you have the look, but without the risk.

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