Monday, August 23, 2010

How To Tan: Getting the most out of Chocolate Sun(less) Tanning Cream

Sarah, a Nature of Beauty staffer, has been the most hesitant in our crew to try Chocolate Sun tanning cream. It's not that she's concerned about Chocolate Sun specifically; she's just never used a sunless tanner before, and is afraid of looking like a striped, overripe tangerine.

It's true that a hasty or misinformed application of faux tanning product can leave you with a stubborn reminder of what went wrong. The good news is that with only a few simple tips, you can all but guarantee a faux glow that is indiscernable from the real deal.

Tip #1: Exfoliate. Sunless tanning products are kind of like hair dye for the skin. The active ingredients interact with your skin cells, causing them to turn a permanent shade of light to medium brown (depending on the shade you're using). It's only when you shed those skin cells that the tan fades. Consequently, making sure the skin cells that interact with the cream or gel are new is key to getting an even, longer-lasting tan.

Not surprisingly, we recommend giving Chocolate Sun's Detoxifying Body Scrub a go (sold under the brand name Flowers Body Care). It's a delightful blend of invigorating Dead Sea Salt, and delicious Turbinado Sugar. And the scent...oh, the scent. Cocoa Fleur or Cranberry Vanilla, you will want to use it every day. Which brings me to the next tip:

Tip #2: Don't exfoliate every day after you apply the sunless tanning products. For the reasons above, exfoliating every day means your tan won't last as long. This may sound a bit gross, but you want your dying and dead skin cells to hang on longer when they are responsible for your tan.

Tip #3: Protect the knees, elbows, and ankles. If you're already experienced in the ways of sunless tanners, you know that there are several areas of the body where the tan can get a bit intense. Skin cells are more concentrated at the knees, elbows and ankles, hence the risk that applied improperly, you could end up looking like you stuck your elbows in caramel pudding. Susie Hatton, founder of Chocolate Sun, recommends applying a thin layer of body lotion to these areas (without rubbing it in) prior to applying your tanning cream. After you're done with the application, take a slightly damp washcloth and make one very light pass over those same body parts to ensure even color.

Tip #4: Rub in circles, not rows. A great way to prevent streaks is not to make any in the first place. By applying your tanning lotion in a circular motion, you won't wake up the next morning with the stripes Sarah is so afraid of. Oh, and just as a side note: Wait until your skin is 100% dry, as water mixed with the lotion will create streaks as well.

Tip #5: Don't get dressed or crawl into bed for 20+ minutes after application. The reason for this is simple: The product takes this long to absorb and start working. So plan your tanning session for when you have at least 20 minutes to hang out pants-less in your house, or if that's not possible, wear a loose-fitting skirt or sun dress for at least a half hour.

Tip #6: Wash your hands! I have learned this one the hard way, and more than once. If you don't wash your hands immediately after your tanning session, your palms, finger nails, and the space in between your fingers will all turn an unfortunate shade of Unnatural. Why? Because like your elbows and knees, those areas will absorb more of the active ingredient. If you're tanning your arms and don't want a white streak that looks suspiciously like a bit of water ran down your arm, use a washcloth instead of running water - just be sure to really scrub, and use soap.

Have any other tips or tricks to share? Leave your comments below!

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