Thanks to Lindsay Lohan, UV-Free tanning may be getting a bad rap. The truth is, UV-Free tanning is easy, breezy, streak free and oh-so-bronze but never, ever pumpkin colored. In the name of summer, I’ve sprayed, misted and scrubbed my way to bronze skin, all to report back from the beauty trenches about which faux glow methods really work.
UV-Free Tanning 101
Sunless Tanning is often referred to as UV-free tanning, meaning you’ll enjoy the benefits of bronzed skin without increasing your risk of skin cancer via sun exposure. Many sunless tanning products call upon dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a chemical that reacts with dead skin cells to darken the skin’s appearance. The “tan” won’t wash off, but it will fade gradually, usually in about one week.
Many experts agree that sunless tanning is safer than traditional tanning but there are precautions to be taken, especially when spray tanning in a booth. DHA is not approved for inhalation or ingestion, so be sure to close your eyes and hold your breath when spray tanning.
The Airbrush Tan vs. The Spray Tan
The phrase “Spray Tan” is most commonly used to describe a treatment available at spas, salon and health clubs featuring a sunless tanning mist administered in a self serve booth. I’ve spray tanned enough that I’m a bit of a pro, meaning I can zip in and out of my favorite spot in less than five minutes. Here’s how it works: I step into the private spray tan booth press a little green button and a tanning mist automatically sprays, covering the front of my body from head to toe. After 30 seconds, the machine pauses; I turn around and the same mist begins again, spraying the back of my body. In just 60 seconds, I step out of the booth, buff off any excess self tanner with a towel, wash my hands and I’m on my way. The color takes about four hours to develop so I return to my daily routine, all the while developing a deep, dark tan.
An “Airbrush Tan” is applied by professional technician who uses special equipment to precisely apply sunless tanning solution to clients. Airbrush tans are normally more expensive than spray tans but they are also more precise since the tanning solution is evenly distributed all over the body by an airbrush professional. The DHA solution is often mixed with a bronzer that is immediately visible once the solution is sprayed onto the skin.
Sunless Tanning Tips
There’s no need to fear UV-free tanning, a streak-free, natural looking tan is achievable, if you follow these tips…
- Exfoliate: Be sure to exfoliate from head to toe with a salt or sugar scrub, loofah or even a washcloth before tanning. I do so with the Pomegranate and Cassis Sugar Scrub from EclipseSpa.com.
- Go Bare: Whether you wax or shave, remove that unwanted hair before you get bronzed. Not only does hair removal help exfoliate pre-tanning, but hair removal post-tanning will significantly shorten the life of your tan.
- Moisturize: Apply a water – not oil – based moisturizer, such as Cetaphil, all over your body the morning before you tan. Pay special attention to the driest areas of your body, think knees, elbows and hands.
- Fix It: If your UV-Free tanning application does end up blotchy, which usually only happens in areas that should have been pre-treated by exfoliating and moisturizing, use an AHA or BHA cleanser to even out the skin tone. You can also mix up a DIY combo of lemon juice and sugar at home and scrub the offending spots to remove dead skin cells and even out color.
Now, I’m back to my vacation, where my newly bronzed skin has me looking like a beach bunny instead of the work-crazed, mother of two that I actually am. Fake it ’til you make it, baby!