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How to build up a natural, long-lasting tan

Posted on 24/04/2014

Preparing your skin for a natural tan

The key to achieving a natural, long-lasting tan is healthy skin.  Moisturising is essential as it will help to keep your skin hydrated and soft, which allows UVB to penetrate into the skin cells and produce melanin (tanning pigment).  If your skin is dry then the UVB will simply be repelled and it will take much longer for your skin to tan.

We recommend moisturising after bathing or showering, when your skin is slightly damp.  The moisturising lotion will capture the water that is still on your skin, helping to keep it hydrated for longer.  It’s also advisable to moisturise after shaving or exfoliating to restore the skin’s normal balance and prevent it from becoming dry.

Choosing the right moisturiser can make all the difference so take the time to look at the ingredients on the product label before you buy.  A good moisturiser should contain humectants, such as glycerin or alpha hydroxyl acids, which take moisture from the air and hold it in your skin.  Also look for emollients, such as lanolin and mineral oil, as these ingredients provide moisture by filling in spaces between skin cells where fat cells used to be.  Moisturisers might also contain minerals and plant extracts such as aloe vera, almond or olive oil.

Accelerator tanning lotions

As well as your daily moisturising routine, if you’re preparing for a sunbed session, you might want to consider using an accelerator tanning lotion.

Accelerator lotions can help you to build a base tan more quickly because they contain tyrosine, which allows the skin cells to produce slightly more melanin when the skin is exposed to UVB.  They also contain vitamins (anti-oxidents) that can help prevent free-radical skin damage, associated with aging.

Exfoliate for an even, longer-lasting tan

Exfoliating helps to keep skin healthy by removing dead skin cells that can plug follicles after shaving or waxing and cause problems such as acne and ingrown hairs.

We recommend exfoliating your skin on a regular basis (around three times a week) to keep your skin hydrated and soft, whilst creating an even skin tone that will help your tan to last longer. 

A gentle touch is important when exfoliating as you only want to remove dead skin cells - if you scrub too hard you may remove healthy skin cells and leave your skin red and sore!

You are what you eat

There is some evidence to suggest that your diet could actually help you to achieve a natural, long lasting tan!

A recent study found that eating certain foods, such as carrots, spinach and plums, could help because they are packed with antioxidant compounds known as carotenoids.  When you eat these foods, many of those excess carotenoids are stored in the fat just underneath your skin, where their pigments peek through and give you a natural looking glow.

Whilst the jury may still be out on this one, it’s certainly true that a healthy diet helps your skin stay healthy and well-hydrated, which we know is key to achieving a beautiful, long-lasting tan.

How to get a deeper, darker tan

Once you have a light tan, what we refer to as a ‘base tan,’ you may find that your tan plateaus and it takes longer to get a darker tan. 

At this point, we recommend using a tanning maximiser lotion, which contains the same ingredients as accelerator lotions but in a more concentrated form.  Maximiser lotions also contain copper peptides that help the melanin that your skin cells have produced react with oxygen.  It is this reaction that turns the melanin brown and will help you to get a natural, long-lasting tan.

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