How To Prepare Your Skin For Tanning

Suntans just don’t happen. The best result: an even honey-coloured glow is often achieved only after you have carefully prepared your pale winter skin to withstand the onslaught of the summer sun.

Why do we love to be brown? As a suntan changes your skin colour, it changes your personality too. It’s like a new haircut. You enjoy that. You also enjoy walking down the street feeling you look better than most.

A good suntan also makes your eyes and teeth look whiter. What more could you want?

Despite the bonuses, suntanning can be dangerous. The results of incorrect tanning are cumulative. Burning at 16 years will affect your skin at 40.

The tan that lasts longest and is deepest, is the tan that takes longest to get. Your skin, when tossed into summer’s early sun rays, will respond according to its condition. The moisture it is, the better for tanning and protection.

MOISTURE: Imagine the sun hitting a dry piece of leather for three or more hours. Result? Taut, charred leather, with flaky pieces forming. That leather is like the skin. If it is oiled like good leather, it can accept a battering from the sun with less damage. When getting summer’s sun for the first time, skin must be heavily moisturized (not oiled like a basted chicken).

ELASTICITY: If you are overweight or pregnant, don’t tan heavily. Increased weight stretches the skin, and if it’s over-expanded around the hips or stomach, you risk ugly stretch marks. With a suntan, they become more apparent. You’ll get the best tan if you aren’t overweight.

PREPARATION: If your skin has never been moisturized, you’ve got lots of dead cells on the surface. Apart from being unattractive, they stop moisture penetrating.

WEEK ONE: Four weeks before tanning take a cold shower. Use a loofah (a long flesh brush made from a plant fiber) to scrub all over. It feels a little raspish. But if you use it gently, you will slough old cells away, and look pink and rosy.

Now rub a good oil (baby oil) into the skin. Each day for the next week, follow each shower with a generous coat of body lotion.

WEEK TWO: Almost anyone can find a sports club or health club where a sauna is available. Shower first in cool water. Then go straight into the sauna, dripping wet. Relax there for the allotted time (usually about three to five minutes for beginners) then leave.

Cover your skin in baby oil, kneading it into the legs, thighs and arms, especially any areas that are a little overweight.

Spend another three minutes in the moist sauna. This time, the steam will force the oil to penetrate the skin. Most people like to shower after a sauna, and do so if you wish. But, shower quickly and try not to remove any oil left on the skin. Pat dry.

WEEK THREE: Maintain a body program that includes sloughing, oiling, and moisturizing. For example, on day one slough off old skin with your loofah, use a body cream after each shower and on day three have a sauna and oil your skin.

At the end of the week have a deep oil bath to polish off. Four weeks’ care will bring your skin up to top condition.

SPECIAL CARE: Remember to let your skin breathe.

When you exercise, wear as little as possible. If you’re exercising correctly, it’s enough to keep you warm. Meanwhile, your skin breathes properly as air circulates around it.

It’s a good idea to swim too if you can get to a pool. Always prepare the skin for the onslaught of heated water and follow swimming with moisturizing.

When you finally step gamely into the sun, your body will be ready. Your protective shield will ensure it’s not damaged if you back it up with good tanning creams.