It’s 2019 and tanning beds are off the table. Yes, the glow might be temporarily satisfying, but UV rays emitted from tanning beds promote premature skin aging — and, according to Dr. Jennifer Pennoyer of Bloomfield, Connecticut— an increased risk for skin cancer. (And no, you shouldn’t use them as a resource to create a “base tan” before vacation, either.)
But just because tanning beds are taboo doesn’t mean you have to hit the panic button and resign yourself to being pale (though if you want to embrace that, I support you!). Rest assured that you can glow in the winter months: Pennoyer recommends self-tanner for those of us who prefer to look toasty and radiant despite frigid temperatures. As a professional makeup artist, I’ve tested dozens of formulas to add warmth to skin during cooler months — on both myself and my clients. Below, four tried and true bronzing solutions that will work without any negative repercussions.
Option 1: Self-Tan Your Body at Home
I don’t like to waste time or money on spray tans, so I am always on the hunt for an effective at-home self-tanner. I discovered my crème de la crèmee tanning formula through a client of mine; a reality star who boasted the most beautiful, natural-looking glow. As I was doing her makeup recently, I inquired about her smooth, natural-looking tan. She shared her secret weapon: Loving Tan® Deluxe Bronzing Mousse in Ultra Dark ($35).
The client swore this product was life-changing, yet I didn’t believe her until I tried the formula myself. It’s a winner because the tone isn’t the least bit orange. For a streak-free finish, I recommend using a tanning mitt to apply it in even, circular motions. (For more tips on creating a believable tan, read this.) Not only does the tan look believable as soon as you apply it, but it also fades in a more natural-looking fashion than other tanners I’ve tried. It lasts about five to seven days.
I’m not the only makeup artist who loves this particular self-tanner. Makeup artist Pavo Marcinowski of Springfield, Massachusetts, agrees. “People never believe how pale I really am because the results looks so real!” he says. “ I can apply it in the morning before I get dressed and show up to work looking like I was just on a vacation,” he adds.
Option 2: Splurge on a Spray Tan
The money and time required for a professional spray tan can be a deterrent. However, if you can dedicate about 30 minutes every so often and some of your beauty budget, the results can be fantastic. There are two options for professional spray tans. The first involves a machine-operated tanning booth, which sprays your whole body with self-tanner to ensure you come out looking streak-free and glowing. (It is often the more affordable option, but can really offer a beautiful outcome.) It is important to follow the instructions provided before you enter the booth, especially regarding applying cream to knees, knuckles, elbows and other areas that might catch a little bit too much tanner. After all, you don’t want to end up looking orange!
If you are nervous about uneven tone (or not good at following instructions!), you might want to consider having a professional spray your body with self-tanner. This option allows for a more meticulous tan than a machine-operated booth. Another benefit of hiring a professional spray tanner is that they often use better-quality tanning ingredients, and many can apply it to key areas to give your body a contoured look.
Janice Raccio, a private spray tan professional, recommends clients do a little bit of prep work for best results: “I always tell clients to exfoliate right before our tanning session, and skip deodorant or moisturizer, which can create a barrier on the skin.” This advice holds true for the booth, as well!
Option 3: Apply self-tanner Solely to Your Face
If you’re unsure about taking the full-body tanning plunge, you can still add a warm glow to your face. I swear by the Clarins® Liquid Bronze Self-Tanning for Face and Decollete ($25), which I believe is the absolute best product for the most realistically tan face. This self-tanner comes in a liquid form, and is meant to be poured onto a cotton pad and swept across skin. As with all self-tanning applications, exfoliation is recommended before use.
Do not be alarmed if the formula appears black when you dispense it. As soon as you swipe on to the face, it will sheer out and turn into a bronzy glow. I usually apply it at night so that I can wake up and pretend that I just went to Brazil. The tan appears after 12 hours, and looks best after two applications. The smell is tolerable; and as someone with oily skin, I am happy to report that it has never caused me to break out. It works perfectly on my darker olive complexion, but I’ve also used it on my fairest of clients with great success.
Option 4: Skip the Self-Tanner and Just Add Bronzing Makeup
If you don’t want to spend time or energy building a long-lasting glow with self-tanner, consider using bronzing makeup instead. Unlike self-tanners, body and face bronzers provide a short-term solution that can be completely washed away at the end of the night. Additionally, bronzers do not need time to develop like self-tanners do; instead of waiting on a DHA reaction to deposit color, these formulas work more like makeup.
For this reason, I opt for bronzers when I’m in a pinch — usually before an event if I haven’t had time to get a spray tan. Try the Tom Ford® Bronzing Gelee ($49), which is my new favorite bronzing makeup for both face and body. (I’ve found very few formulas that do both and fit my high standards!) It perfectly smooths and evens out skin tone while providing just the right amount (and the right tone) of bronze.
Karen Jaminson, a makeup artist for Tom Ford Beauty, says this product is her go-to for all skin tones. “I like to use this product for [deeper-complected women of color] almost as a primer,” she says. “Often, primers offer a bit of iridescence that can read ashy on dark skin. This one just melts into the skin and offers a subtle glow, so it’s the perfect solution for deeper skin tones.”
Another way to use this product is to add it to foundation, Jaminson continues. “It add[s] just the right amount of bronze [for olive complexions], and for fair skin tones, I just use a little bit to provide a hint of color. Because the gel has a true neutral brown-based tone, it works for everyone, it is an amazing product.”
It’s 2019; there’s no reason to look orange — or cause damage to your complexion in the name of adding a glow. With some of these options, you can skip both pitfalls and achieve radiant, bronzed skin.
Some products were gifted to the author for the purpose of writing this article.
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