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How to Get a Great (and Safe) Tan at the Beach

It’s vacation time, and you need the perfect tan. Not the splotchy burns or tan lines of last year, but an even, healthy golden glow all over your body. Tanning salon? Spray on lotions? Those are definitely options, but if you love the feeling of a natural tan at the beach, and the ambience of lying outside near the surf, read on.

Yes, it’s a fact the sun’s natural rays can be harmful. Skin cancer is rising, and sunburns are a constant threat. Does this mean the end of feeling the sand beneath your toes and listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean? No, of course not! You can tan more safely. There are a few easy steps to take beforehand to prepare yourself:

  1. Smooth yourself – A few days or weeks before you head to the beach, before you shower every morning, buff your skin with a body brush in gentle, circular motions to ensure smooth skin and better circulation. During your shower, exfoliate with a soft body scrub to brush away dead and dry skin. This will give your skin a soft, even surface for your tan.
  2. Moisten – After your shower, take the time to apply a rich body cream to seal in moisture and keep your skin feeling smooth. A daily moisturizer is essential to minimize damage to your skin from UV rays. After tanning, it doesn’t hurt to apply a cream to your skin again. If you’re on vacation, you’ll probably shower before heading out for a night on the town, so this would be the perfect time for a moisturizer.

Once you’re in the sun, limit yourself to a few hours a day, and try to avoid sun tanning during the peak hours of 11 AM and 2 PM. Always use sunscreen, as a full sun on unprotected skin is bad no matter what. A lotion with SPF 6 to 15 will still allow you to tan, based on your skin type. A good tan should take a few days. Tanning too fast is dangerous and could lead to burning and long term damage. The idea is to tan slowly. Because the act of tanning is your body’s defensive response to the sun’s rays, you don’t want to overdo it. Gradually, as you get darker, your skin will raise its natural SPF to about 3 or 4. Certainly not enough to protect you for prolonged periods, but enough for your body to know it’s hot out there. The idea is to look like you’re enjoying your summer. Keep practicing step 1 and 2 every morning before you go out.

The perfect tan means minimizing tan lines. One method is to wear a bikini and periodically adjust your straps. Another idea is a tan through swimsuit, which allows part of the sun’s rays to penetrate the fabric. The straps will still need periodic adjusting due to the knitted seams, but you have the ability to tan your entire body, even while wearing a 1-piece bathing suit, should you so desire.

Practise this daily regime, and you’ll have a great tan by the end of the week. If you treat your skin right, the sun will again be your friend. Have fun at the beach.