How to Get a Tan With Fair Skin
Tanning Fair Skin
My skin is naturally very pale, and while I'm very much at ease with my genetic predicament, there are moments when I would like to don a more sun-kissed look. I spent years half-dreading my Italian summers as I would irrevocably draw a little tragi-comic attention on the beaches and piazzas.
Beyond my insecurity, a little research made the objective of having healthy, tanned skin not only achievable, but quite easy to attain as well. This article is a summary of methods and solutions that truly work, for any type of skin (if it works for me, it'll work for you -- trust me), and whatever the weather. Some methods will involve a great deal of patience, and will need to be fit into a routine, others are near-instant but will have their own set of pros and cons.
Protecting Fair Skin
Before we begin looking at what methods may suit you on your quest on how to get a tan with fair skin, here's a brief and concise look at how to make sure our skin also remains healthy in the short and long-term.
- Ideally, pale skin should be constantly protected with sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating of at least 30.
- Even under a newly refreshed layer of sunscreen, limit sun exposure to before 10am and after 4pm to avoid burning and damaging the skin.
- Make sure your sunblock is capable of blocking both UVA and UVB radiation.
- If you burn in the sun, you'll burn on a tanning bed.
- Allow some time to pass between tanning sessions.
- Skin that is more often covered will be more likely to burn.
- Spray-on DIY tans do not increase your skin's ability to withstand the sun and tan more easily.
Is It All Doom And Gloom?
Aside from the risk of skin damage and cancer, many people who use sunbeds claim they offer secondary benefits which make it worth all the hassle. Exposure to sun-mimicking UVB rays can lead to a sense of relax and well-being, as well as be used as an effective cure for some forms of dermatitis and psoriasis.
Sunbeds, Myth Or Option?
Sunbeds are something of a mixed bag with regards to tanning fair skin. On the one hand it can, if done patiently and sensibly, lead to natural, long-lasting results, but on the other it presents many of the same risks that traditional tanning entails. If you are every-bit as fair-skinned as I am, chances are, sunbeds should not be considered a worthwhile option.
Reports published by the World Health Organization and Cancer Research UK make clear the dangers involved. If you have:
- Freckly skin.
- Skin that burns easily.
- A large quantity of moles.
- Take certain medication that increases your sensitivity to UV sunlight.
- Are underage.
Then there are important cancer risks to consider. If you decide to go on anyway, limiting your sessions to a few minutes and gradually increasing over the course of weeks, and taking 24 to 48 hour intervals between tans can lead to a decent healthy-looking tan. But remember that it is only healthy-looking, any sign of redness indicates damage to the skin.
Fake Tans (Sprays And Lotions)
The idea that naturally tanned skin is healthier is a common myth, and easily dispelled with a little research. For many of us, contemporary fake tanning agents are fantastic opportunities in that they allow us to shake up our look without damaging our skin. Many people are now catching on and employing them as part of their everyday cosmetic routine (roughly 9% of people in the U.S use self-tanners).
There are many ways to avoid looking cheap with a fake tan, here are a few options:
- Dyes - These are natural vegetable dyes that stain the skin in authentic looking tones which fade over the course of a few days.
- Bronzers - Unlike dyes, these wash off with soap and water giving you a great deal more flexibility.
- Tan Catalyzers - Claim to speed up tanning by stimulating melanin production (I have not tried these myself).
- Beauty Salons - Can use high-quality sprays to uniformly achieve a perfect, customized tan. Can be expensive!
Bear in mind that while you may marvel and strut around proudly in the sun with your new "tan", artificial tans offer no additional protection from the sun! You will need to continue to use high-protecting SPF sunscreen. Here are a few examples of popular products for the fair-skinned (I threw together some of Amazon's best-selling offers, though I urge you to do your own research).
The Sun Itself
Achieving a solid tan on fair skin involves taking it easy. Getting a mild burn is absolutely not required to get some color, in fact, it is counter-productive. If you're getting red, you're going too fast. As I've already mentioned, as a rule of thumb do not attempt to bravely soak in the sun between 10am and 4pm, you won't be doing yourself any favors. Instead, try the following tips:
- Refresh your 30 SPF sunscreen every two hours. Make sure it's still on when you come back from a swim.
- Prevent flaking by keeping your skin moisturized at all times, especially after a day on the beach.
- Certain kinds of beach foods are claimed to enhance tans (beetroot, carrots, oranges), I have no experience with this personally.
- If in doubt remember that you can tan in the shade!
I hope this article has been of help, and was not an overly depressing read (it certainly wasn't my intention)!. If you have any personal tips to share please do so in the comment section, thanks!