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Alternative Tanning Methods

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Screen the Sun!

Sunless Tanning Machines for your home!

Sunscreen to tan? You may be thinking it makes little sense, but it does.  If you are going to let yourself sit out  under the bright yellow rays, sunscreen can be your friend in getting enough sun, but saving yourself from harmful exposure levels.

While choosing a sunscreen, be sure to read labels. We all know to check SPFs, but many only protect against UVA rays. Ideally, we want one that protects against UVBs as well. Also notice that sunscreen and sunblock are different animals: Sunblock is meant to block all sun reaction, while sunscreen is meant to screen it. Sunscreen will not prevent you from tanning, however it will help prevent you from getting burned.

Choosing the right SPF is related to your tanning history and your complexion. While a pale person may need an SPF of 30, a darker-skinned person may need as little as 4. Use more than you need and you are less likely to tan. Use less than you need and you may be more susceptible to burning. Knowing what is best for you is something you will learn with experience, but you can easily get assistance from a store employee or doctor if you need guidance.

Are Tanning Pills a Dose of Magic?

Seeking a magic pill that will give you the perfect tan? It's not as mystical a notion as you may believe. Though not yet FDA-approved, several varieties of tanning pills are on the market that tint the skin via color additives, such as canthaxanthin.

These pills contain a dose of color multiple times stronger than you may find in food. Due to these mass quantities, the substance will infiltrate the body and impart color. Other pills may contain the amino acid tyrosine, which is said to stimulate and increase melanin  formation, thereby accelerating the tanning process.

There's a great debate about the effectiveness of tanning pills, and they have been somewhat linked to unsavory side effects, such as deposit of crystals in your eyes or even hepatitis. Still, tanning pills are an alternative to outdoor tanning and do create a new glow, at least temporarily -- one without any of the faux-orange often associated with sunless tanning.

If you use this method, keep wearing sunblock -- these pills will not protect you against UVA and UVB rays and you may still burn.

Toweling Away the Pale. Is it Possible?

As much as many of us love tanning lotions and sprays, they do have a tendency to get a little messy. The tanning towel was invented in answer to this, as a way of achieving a sunless tan neatly, but also evenly. Just drop it in your purse or gym bag and go!

On the surface, it seems a little too good to be true: With tanning towels, all you do is wrap yourself in the towel (the snugger the better; consider it a extra-tight hug!), and the tan will soon begin to appear. It's important though that you evenly cover the entire body with the same duration and tightness, or you may have a deeper tan on one area than the other -- the sunless tanning equivalent a bikini line.

To use a tanning towel, you start with the folded towel and work your way from your feet up. Gently unfold the towel a little at a time until you have covered your entire body. The towel-potion will dry within 20 minutes or so, and after that you can use the dotting effect to catch any straggling spots you may have missed.

While you research what tanning towel to use, you will discover that some tanning towels will exfoliate while distributing the tanner. You want this trait because the tanner works best on smooth surfaces. Another consideration is whether you want wipes or towels. Both are on the market, and each has its merits.

Because of their ease of use, safety, and much lower mess factor, tanning towels are a great alternative to consider when buying tanning products for yourself.

Tan in a can?

We are all familiar with sunless tanning lotions, which are all pretty self-explanatory. Their method is simple -- you simply lather on the lotion as evenly as possible and it temporarily tints your top layer of skin. Much as with airbrush tanning, the tan will fade a little each time you bathe, eventually disappearing in about a week. However, if you reapply frequently, the tan will not only maintain, it will deepen.

This sun tanning alternative used to have a bad rap -- it was hard to use and would often resort in a faux orange tone that made its unnaturalness quite apparent. However, with improvements to various product lines, the look is now more natural and long-lasting. Many also include some SPF protection and come in various shading, meaning that an appropriate option for your skin color is often available. Most come in light, medium, or dark shading; as deep as you wish your tan to be, the idea is to use the right shade for your natural skin tone and build from there. A pale-skinned blonde going immediately to dark will not get a look anyone will determine to be natural.

Not all tanning lotions contain all these benefits, but if you read labels carefully and follow instructions, they will provide you with a safe and useful tanning alternative.

Good Old-Fashioned Sunshine

One obvious alternative to sunless tanning would be sun tanning. While outdoor tanning may seem the most natural, and thus obvious approach, it is not a wise option.

A little known fact is that Coco Chanel accidentally invented tanning nearly a century ago. While cruising from Paris to Cannes, she -- probably accidentally -- got a sun tan. Being she was the Anna Wintour of her own era, she thus started a fashion trend that has yet to die. It wasn't until decades later that we learned the association between sunburns and tanning and skin cancer and wrinkles.

The tan look remains popular though, and throughout the world, attending the beach is seen as the paramount vacation destination. Paleness became connected to tired/overworked, tan meant fun-loving and outgoing. These are connotations that seemingly have stuck.

Increasing knowledge of the dangers of an "authentic" tan is what has led to the popularity -- and preference toward -- indoor sunless tanning. Sunscreen helps prevent damaging effects from the sun from occuring; it should always be used, no matter what your skin tone.

Oil Up and Get Some Rays

There's those of us who can handle slowly and steadily winning the race, and others who are looking to accelerate results as much as possible. Tanning oil appeals to such individuals.

Tanning oil comes in many varieties -- spray-on and rub-in, and also in a variety of scents. The way tanning oil works is twofold: it softens skin and changes the way it reflects light. This works to maintain an illusion of a darker tan. The key to beautiful skin is health and hydration; tanning oil keeps it moisturized while also encouraging a faster, darker tan.

It has also become popular to combine tanning oil with alternative sun tanning methods. Some people lather up in tanning oil prior to using a tanning bed in order to optimize results. This oil is often called accelerating oil, and it means just that -- it makes results happen faster.

The ideal oils are non-greasy but moisturizing. Many contain plant extracts and vitamins or minerals, which accentuate hydration/skin-saving qualities. Still, oils offer no UV protection, so those susceptible to burning should use extra caution.

Powder up a bronze

There are many alternatives to the traditional sun tan, but perhaps the simplest of is the bronzer. Bronzers are simply a powder that you dust on to give your face a sun-kissed glow. Moderation is key however: The correct amount can create a beautiful shade of bronze, too much can lead to an ashy, dirty appearance.

The purpose of a bronzer is to subtly darken and enhance your natural coloring; it should never be too dramatic. Ideally, take your normal color of foundation and up it a shade or two. You should always try on a few brands at the store to find the right bronzer that accentuates your tones rather than creates new, false ones. Generally, fair people are complemented by pinker bronzers; medium-toned looks better with orange undertones; and darker tones work best with amber bronzes.

Never go too orange. This is a common mistake with bronzers, and it's what makes the natural look distinctly non-natural.

Bronzers are an easy, fast way to adapt to a new season -- but remember, it's only makeup and will wear off the same way your lipstick does. If you find a favorite shade, keep it and a brush with you and reapply as needed!

Tanning Alternatives during Pregnancy

As much as we want to maintain our healthy glow year-round, if you are pregnant, it may be necessary to say goodbye temporarily to the tanning bed. Furthermore, excessive sun exposure of any kind during this time is not good for the baby. This is perhaps a great opportunity to invest in sunblock, sunglasses, and a cute floppy hat!

One safe alternative to sun tanning during this time is the organic tan, a trend that has become more and more prevalent as the world has begun to go green. This comes in several options -- airbrush tanning is safe and almost entirely natural, as are most bronzers and tanning lotions. Many tanning salons even have a shower-on tanning booth with the spray made of beets! All natural alternatives provide a great compromise toward limitations and beauty/fashion needs.

If you are heat sensitive, this will be true even more so during your pregnant months, so sunless options are the best for you. As is staying very hydrated -- 8-10 glasses of water a day is best, and more is even better!

Solar Tan-Through Bathing Suits

News from the Twilight Zone of sun tanning is actually quite accurate: One of the newest trends is an ingenious creation that can make tan lines a thing of the past.

These bathing suits are designed by using a very porous fabric that allows the sun's rays to shine right through and ensure an all-over tan. This is a great alternative to traditional sun tanning because it allows for modesty in public (the fabric remains opaque despite all the pores), and yet ensures an even, no-line tan.

These garments also are known to provide mild sun protection (though of course you should still wear your traditional sun block) -- and are a really fun way to get exposure without actually feeling exposed. They come in many styles too, meaning you can look as conservative or free as you wish.

With these bathing suits, it's important that you eventually exfoliate and moisturize your whole body, so that your tan truly will be even. Sometimes we forget to worry about the parts people don't see very often -- but if you are going to give it a glow, it may as well be an even one!

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