A perfect tan coincides with a healthy tan. To avoid burns, wrinkles, spots and sunburn, it is advisable to start preparing your skin for sun exposure as early as spring. With the arrival of summer, we can’t wait to get rid of that pale, greyish winter complexion that winter has left us. But what are the best methods to prepare our skin for a beautiful golden and healthy complexion? And most importantly, how to avoid any problems caused by sun exposure?

Including the right foods in our diet, preparing our skin and adopting healthier habits is essential if we want to achieve a beautiful complexion. In this article, let’s see together what a tan is, how to get it evenly and how to maintain it for a long time.

What happens when you get a tan?

Tanning is actually a defence reaction of the skin against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Melanin is a pigment produced by melanocytes, whose function is to absorb the sun’s UV rays and protect the skin layers. And it is this pigment that makes our skin tanned giving it the much desired golden colour.

This defence process is called melanogenesis and it takes a few days to become protective and effective. In fact, at the first sun exposure, melanocytes are at rest and slowly start to activate and produce melanin. Therefore it is easy to understand that it is fundamental to prolong sun exposure in a gradual way. Doing so gives time to the melanocytes to activate, allowing the production and distribution of melanin over the entire surface of the skin. In this way, you will be well protected and avoid sunburns that could leave spots on the skin that are difficult to remove.

Melanin production does not occur equally in all skin types. Some skin types such as olive or dark skin can produce melanin in greater quantity and quickly. On the other hand, light complexions need more time to produce it and are more sensitive to the sun.

However, regardless of your skin colour, you need to prepare it by wearing an SPF (sun protection factor). Don’t take any chances! Blemishes, burns, erythema and premature skin ageing are just around the corner.

legs tanned on the beach near the sea

How to prepare skin for tanning?

Let’s see together what are the important steps to prepare your skin for sun exposure to get a healthy tan:

Skin preparation: exfoliate and moisturize

Exfoliating your skin will help you achieve an even and longer-lasting tan. Skin regenerates every 21-28 days and proper exfoliation will help you get rid of dead skin cells and stimulate blood circulation. As a result, you will stimulate physiological cell turnover.

Avoid using scrubs that are too aggressive and do not do it more than twice a week for the body and once for the face. Keep in mind that after the scrub the skin is more sensitive, so it is appropriate to do it 2/3 days before sun exposure.

To avoid early wrinkles or dryness, it will be essential to moisturize the skin as often as possible (before and after sun exposure). Moisturizing and nourishing the skin will make it more resistant to the sun’s rays and also help rebuild its protective layer.

Do not use aggressive creams especially on the face, but prefer gentle and moisturizing creams based on Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and C, antioxidants and nutrients. Below are my favourite body scrubs and moisturizers of the moment:

Sunscreen Anti UV

It’s not enough to just exfoliate and moisturize your skin to ensure a healthy, even tan. You must protect yourself and always use sunscreen. Pay attention to the SPF value, which stands for sun protection factor and indicates the degree of protection of a product. The range is from 6 to 50+, the higher it is, the more it protects from ultraviolet rays and consequently from sunburn and premature ageing of the skin. It is advisable to use products with at least an SPF of 20 to ensure proper protection from the sun.

A good sunscreen should be used daily and not only when going to the beach. Prevention is the most effective weapon we have at our disposal against unwanted wrinkles and spots at a young age. If you use make-up, use products with a high SPF factor to ensure daily protection.

On a beach vacation, apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go out in the sun and reapply every 2 hours. It’s an essential part of your skincare routine! Here are my favourite sunscreens with different SPF factors:

Sun exposure

Another important factor is for sure the time of day in which you expose yourself. A good habit is to avoid sun exposure during the hottest hours of the day from 12 to 16. I suggest you take many small exposures instead of a long one that can end up in a sunburn. Remember you don’t need to rush, slowly your skin will acquire the desired colour.

sun umbrella to protect from the sun on the beach

Food supplements for tanning

Sun supplements are products specifically designed to strengthen the skin’s self-defence. Their main functions are to counteract sun-induced oxidative damage and stimulate melanin synthesis. They consist of substances that promote photoprotection such as carotenoids, vitamins (A, C, E), antioxidants and trace elements (including copper, magnesium, zinc and selenium).

Leave the skin the right recovery time

What could be more relaxing after a beautiful day spent at the beach than a nice rejuvenating shower? And the moment after the shower is the one I love the most. I dedicate myself to my skin by massaging with moisturizing creams but this time with soothing action and refreshing after-sun on the whole body. The ingredients I suggest are plant extracts such as aloe, green tea, chamomile and mallow.

What to eat for a fast and long-lasting tan?

Nutrition plays a crucial role in the well-being and beauty of your body. What you eat and drink also helps prepare your skin for an enviable tan. It is essential to drink a lot to stay hydrated, your skin and your hair will thank you. Physiological cell turnover needs lots of water, essential nutrients and vitamins to take place.

Introduce foods rich in vitamins A, C and E, as well as beta-carotene into your meals. It stimulates your immune system, prevents skin ageing and regenerates cells. You can find them in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, squash, broccoli, mango, apricots, kale, peas, tomatoes, cantaloupe, almonds and walnuts.

It’s a good habit to incorporate these foods as early as the winter months to keep your skin healthy and ready for sun exposure in the following warm months. Healthy skin will be more prepared for sun exposure and the tan will also be longer-lasting. Remember to pay attention to the seasonality of fruits and vegetables, when they are in season they contain more vitamins and are certainly more nutritious.

carrots and tomatoes are vegetables for tanning

How to maintain your tan: tips to prolong it

There are several steps you can take to make sure your beautiful tan lasts longer. I’ll tell you what methods I use. First, I try to prefer the shower to the bath, as it is quicker; prolonged contact with water promotes peeling. I also use a specific moisturizing shower gel instead of a conventional shower gel which is certainly more aggressive. After showering, try not to scrub with a towel but dab the skin gently. I always use a moisturizing and nourishing cream or butter morning and night, my favourites are definitely coconut and shea butter:

sun protection for tanning and cream moisturizer

In addition to these simple tips, I try to avoid swimming in the pool, yes chlorine is an enemy of our tan. On my skin, chlorine has a really fast discolouring effect. And on you? Have you noticed it?

Another thing to avoid as much as possible is air conditioning. Try to keep it to a minimum when travelling and try to avoid direct skin contact.

I hope you find my tips helpful in achieving a perfect golden tan this summer. If you found my article helpful let me know in the comments! And if you have any other tips for me, I’d love to hear them!

A big hug, Tonia,

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