Ever notice how few summer hit singles talk about the awesomeness of staying in the shade and wearing a wide-brimmed hat? If pop music was sunsmart, Katy Perry would sing, “California gurls, We're unforgettable/ Daisy Dukes, a hat long-sleeved top / pale, suncreened skin so hot / We'll melt your popsicle (if it’s hot enough under a tree).” Because sun protection is dope, yo, to keep your skin healthy.
But, we will admit, while we LOVE pale skin (remember Tilda, Sparklers, or the beautiful Emma Stone), there is something nice about bumping up the color a notch in summertime when you’re bouncing around town in skimpier clothing. Luckily, there is a gigantic industry devoted to helping the weak of melanin to achieve a bit of tone without risking sun damage. Even better, we know the best ones to use thanks to a lifetime spent slinking between plots of shade and wearing UV-resistant sunglasses any time our own blinding skin is exposed.
Jergens Natural Glow: Is there anything particularly “natural” about locking your brother out of the bathroom for half an hour while you slather a gently self-tanning moisturizer all over your alabaster bodystocking and wait, frozen in place like a tai chi master, for it to seep in? Perhaps not, but this daily moisturizer is MONEY. Because you build up just a tiny sheen of color each time, it’s hard to end up with the orange hands and streaked legs that flag a self-tanner to the world. Use daily!
Kate Somerville 360 Tanning Wipes: Get out, this girl’s name is Somerville? We gotta trust her then, right! Kate’s tanning wipes have a bit more firepower than tanning moisturizers, so you can expect to be in superhero shape in two-to-four hours. Luckily, the wipes help you to achieve an even application without tanning the webbed insides of your fingers and leaving handprints all down your arms. Still, applying a REAL DEAL tanner is a bit like writing something in invisible ink—there’s every chance that in four hours your legs read: “This is my first time doing a tanner!” Hot tip: these are often available in the cheap samples section of Sephora.
Clarins Self-Tanning Instant Gel: The cadillac of the self-tanner garage, Clarins gel dries super quick and is a safe hue to apply right to your face, neck and decolletage (that’s the upper boob and bib section, ladies, where popcorn falls when you miss your mouth). The color says, “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts” and the scent says, “A little place called Kokomo.” It’s also a little pricey, so unless a year-round tan is key to your plot for world domination, you best treat yourself to this one just in summer, or before a special party.
Ulta Bronze Tinted Self-Tanning Suncreen Lotion: Eagle has landed, dove flies south (wink wink). Guys, this sneaky tanner masquerades as sunscreen, so you can put it on in the sun and not get burned, but MAGICALLY TAN WHILE YOU SIT ON YOUR TOWEL. Clearly, it was created by evil geniuses. It also has a tint so that you can see exactly where your cloak of mischief is being applied. Just make sure you reapply this baby if you’re staying out in the sun, because it’s only SPF15. Or alternate with a stronger sunscreen, if you don’t want to end up looking like Tan Mom.
Spray Tan from the professionals: Before you head down to the Tahitian Bungalow at your local strip mall, ask yourself: How badly to I want to look tanned? Enough that you don’t mind wearing a paper thong and no bra while a stranger moves around you with a spray gun, like the cleaning men around that elephant in the Sesame Street song? Okay then! Tell the technician you want just a couple of shades darker than your natural skin tone—you can go full Brazil on us later if you’re still not satisfied. (Alternately, experiment with a tanning mist in the privacy of your own home.)
A few tips before you go out into the wide world of self-tanning: go easy on knees, ankles, elbows, hands and feet; exfoliate before you start; build up light layers; and watch your clothes and towel—now is the time to bring out those ugly brown towels from the back of the closet and leave the nice white ones put away. Happy painting!
Do you use any products to fake a bit of gold during summer or do you cover up and keep it alabaster?