Gaww, you’re so pale you nearly blinded me just opening this tab! I’m sorry; I don’t mean to insult you. Welcome, my milk bottle friend. Despite my testament of the bronze, I am a secret Caucasian with a hint of “olive undertones” AKA, yellow…or Dipsy from the Teletubbies. So, as you can imagine, I know your pain. Just so you believe me, you can see from the picture above that I did initially begin this journey a vanilla pallor.
Enough of this gabbling though, it’s time to get down to business. So, you want to know how to get the best tan? Well, sit back, relax, and allow me to take you through my journey so far. Yours truly has played guinea pig just for you! And a little bit for me, because I quite like this glow I’m donning. Plus, it’s summer soon, so we need ample bikini prep time!
Recently I was lucky enough to jet off to the Caribbean island of St Lucia, so my bronzing journey began among 31 degrees of cloudless sky. So, yeah, I got a bit of a head-start! But, I was not prepared for my skin to actually change as much as it did, as I’ve always been a bit of a sun-phobe due to fear of my skin prematurely aging. What I can tell you is that the natural sun is the best way for a dramatic colour change and as long as you are safe with it (by applying SPF with a strong PA+ rating) then you will be protected from the UV rays and still turn a pretty shade of brown. Just make sure that if you are planning on tanning, then you might want to avoid straps…see embarrassing pic above.
Sun Pros=Tan fast with a natural and deep colour. Your skin will have a healthy glow, as the cell turnover rate is accelerated. That and I’m pretty sure I’ve got enough Vitamin D in my bod to last me all year.
Sun Cons=May not tan evenly if you don’t flip over in your sun lounger and necessary clothing means you’re going to be subjected to “white bits”. Also, the sweat is real! You may turn a pretty colour, but that isn’t without avoiding rather sticky skin…need I say more?
The Fake Tan
So, stepping back into the UK I realised that whilst my shoulders and legs looked like tasty roast chicken drumsticks, some hidden parts of me were still rather “undercooked”. The Neapolitan ice cream look certainly wasn’t something I was digging. Thus, I ventured into my local superstore and bought myself some fake tan, with the attempt to even up the bits the sun couldn’t penetrate. Now, this £11 tanner promises no streaks, even application and a medium colour with a fresh scent; so I was hopeful. For a good week I used this little bottle once each day living in hope it’d match up my skin. On the positive side, it did change the colour of my skin! Negative side…it wasn’t nearly dark enough to what I was expecting. Plus, I kind of smelt like gone off cookie dough, which isn’t a great scent to be honest. So, did it work? A bit…but not enough, It’s probably more beneficial to use as a base, rather than a matcher-upper.
Fake pros=Easy to apply and changes relatively quickly and evenly on the skin. The colour it leaves is very natural and smells good upon application.
Fake cons=1 week’s supply cost £11, and it wasn’t even that dark a result! And my skin reeking of potatoes as the tan developed was not a fabulous one.
The Sun Bed
Now this is what I’m talking about! This baby right here is a sun bed. It’s probably a claustrophobe’s worst nightmare, but if you’re a brave tanning warrior, then I’m sure you’ll be able to take it. It is stuffed to the brim with ultraviolet lighting which works to produce a cosmetic tan. What’s best about this? You can get naked. That means no white bits, woohoo! I started doing a couple of sessions a week, for about 8-10 minutes at a time. I put on SPF 15 with a UV filter to protect my skin from damage prior to this, and also used a tanning accelerator to give my skin a bronze boost. At 50p a minute, it feels fairly well priced; especially if I only have to go twice a week to maintain the glow. BUT…my white bits are still kinda…not brown. Don’t get me wrong, they’re darker than they were, but man they are still not filled in. So, if you want to go down this route then know this is going to take a lot more dedication and £££’s, if you want to maintain your honey glazed skin.
Sunbed pros=Will give you an all-over tan, and it won’t smell and it’ll be as natural looking as the sun’s rays. It’s pretty relaxing too, as all you have to do is lie there and let the machine do the rest. Oh, and on a random note, it has cleared my skin up completely!
Sunbed cons=Depending on the colour you want to achieve, this could start to become pricey…I’m only on a tenner a week to maintain my glow, but to have it all match up could take more minutes and sessions; and this precious time isn’t available to everyone so easily.
The Gradual Tanning Lotion
Let me just start by saying…this cost £2.74…AMAZING. I was staggered at the low price and the compulsion to purchase it happened before I even finished gasping (it’s Garnier’s Summer Body Mositurising Lotion in “Deep” by the way). Now, like with any tanner, it’s wise to exfoliate your skin first so the base is prepped. They also advise gloves, but I’m a bit lazy for that, so I reckon just washing your hands after does just fine (my hands aren’t orange, so I’m not going to faff with marigolds). Anyway, the best thing is that you can use this as your daily body moisturiser; so it doesn’t really take up any more of your skincare routine! My favourite thing about this is that it builds your tan gradually, that way no scary streaky mistakes are obvious! And, it gives you a chance to even it out. Although it does claim that once it reaches its colour “peak”, if you will, then it won’t continue darkening it. So, you just have to apply it happily and by the time you’re ready to get your pins out, they’ll be advert-worthy! All hail the gradual tanner!
Lotion pros=Gives you a natural glow that builds up gradually, but the change is noticeable relatively swiftly. The initial smell is beautiful, absorbs quickly and as it develops it doesn’t become overwhelmingly potato-like. Oh, and it’s cheap as chips! No pun intended…
Lotion cons=My natural tan is still darker and I can still detect a liiittle bit of fake tan smell…nothing that can’t be covered with body spray, but I’m aware of it.
Aside from my satire, I do hope this has proven helpful for you guys on your journey a la bronze! I guess depending on what kind of colour you want to achieve and the lengths you’re prepared to go to will dictate which route you go down. For me, my best recommendation is to use a gradual tanner as a moisturiser every day and then top it up with the sunbed (just make sure you remember your SPF in there, cos the lotion alone will not keep your skin from the dreaded leather satchel look!). Or, if you’re brave enough, just go on holiday somewhere exotic with a nudist beach.
Or just stick to the sunbed…save your eyes.