The Tan Commandments
Keep a good thing from becoming a health hazard and be smart when you hit the sunshine
First thing’s first. In order to gain that golden, even tan, it’s best to understand exactly what a tan is and how your skin produces one. Tanning is more than just a pretty, healthy glow. It’s a process of protection from the cells in your skin, shielding you from the harmful UVA and UVB rays. Without going too deep, these rays are a type of radiation linked to cancer. A tan is your body’s natural defence against the radiation, as melanin – natural pigments found in most organisms – is produced to protect skin cells from UVB radiation damage, making the skin tone appear darker. Unfortunately the downfalls of excessive sun exposure doesn’t end there. Harmful UV rays can be accounted for 80% of skin ageing often causing pigmentation, reduction of the skins elasticity and degradation of texture. In short, not good.
On the other hand, the sun and its rays do offer some major benefits, more than just the ‘feel good’ factor of a visible glow. We have an absolute necessity for vitamin D, which is responsible for keeping your body ticking along like a well oiled machine. Also, the sunshine’s gift extends beyond the production of vitamin D with noteworthy properties such as increased fat metabolism and alertness, hurrah!
Now that you’re a whiz kid on the good, the bad and the ugly of getting a tan, next time you step out in your smoking hot swimwear or hit the water, be kind to your skin and get your glow sensibly and slowly. A more cautious approach will reduce the ageing effects and risk of skin cancer, while benefiting the fabulous effects of the sunshine’s vitamin D fix.
Below are my Be Beach tips and recommended products to help you take care of your skin, enhance your tan and reap the sunshine’s health benefits as you hit the beach for an action packed day.
1. Exfoliate – Prep your canvas perfectly by removing dead cells from the outermost layers of the skin. A good scrub down also removes pore clogging dirt and oil which, when combined with suncream and salt water can lead to pimples, even acne. Buffing away the dead cells not only allows you to tan more easily, but will also make your colour last longer and brighten your overall skin tone. Try Liz Earle’s Energising Body Scrub. It’s a brilliant body buffer, invigorating, refreshingly scented and kind on sensitive skin.
2. Wear Suncream – Don’t believe anyone who tells you that wearing a high SPF stops you getting a tan, it’s rubbish. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) in fact allows you to have more exposure time whilst still achieving that desirable colour, without the additional skin damage which comes from the Ultraviolet B 'burning rays.’ Try Sun Bum PRO SPF 50 Sunscreen for your body and face. Mineral based and paraben free, it will take awesome care of your skin no matter how sensitive, leaving you to play hard in the sun. The most impressive thing about this product is that it never runs into your eyes, won’t budge no matter how strong the wind or heavy the waves and is non-greasy, keeping slippery hands a thing of the past.
3. Do not overexpose - It is totally unnecessary to have your face in the sun as the ageing effects are monumental. Instead, and whenever possible, wear a wide brimmed hat and fake it with make up if needed. I recommend rocking a fun yet chic Braid Straw Hat from Asos. Also, be sure to watch the clock in order to avoid excessive amounts of time in the sun and direct exposure between the hours of 11am – 2pm. Finally, if you’re going to be on the water, avoid bare skin and cover up with a long sleeved rash guard as the coolness of the water will trick you into thinking that you are not burnt; you are. I adore the limited edition Doheny Rashguard from Seea. With fab neon prints it screams style and fashion thanks to Seea's collaboration with Lepidos, an original swim line by iconic Japanese fashion retailer, United Arrows.
4. Care for special spots – Freckles or dark spots are often an indication that sun damage has already occurred. Take special care of these areas. I would recommend a zinc oxide based formula, applied thickly to particularly sensitive areas. They block out the sun’s harmful rays by forming a reflective barrier. Foto Ultra 90 by ISDIN is a fantastic brand from Spain, who’s sun specific products I have trusted in for years.
5. If in doubt, check it out – I cannot stress enough the importance of having regular skin check-ups with your doctor or dermatologist, if only to put your mind at rest.
6. Fake it – Quite frankly, I’d take the hassle of fake tanning my face over applying bucket loads of anti wrinkle creams and crossing my fingers in good faith that it might repair the damage done. It’s not a nice feeling and no cream can reverse the full extent of the damage. Try Autohelios Cream Gel Moisturising Self Tanner. It’s parabens free and guaranteed to give a natural and healthy looking glow without clogging pores.
And finally, in the words of Baz Luhrmann “ If I could offer you, only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.” Why not have a listen, he’s got some serious words of wisdom.