There are better options than a ‘Marmite’ Tan. Yes, a sun-kissed glow will always get you that instant radiance a fake tan would never be able to give. Plus the benefits of sun exposure are well known: it boosts levels of serotonin (nature’s own Valium, proven to alleviate anxiety) and it produces vitamin D which is good for bones, teeth and skin.
To enjoy the warm, sunny weather, and avoid ageing and cancer risks, you simply need to make sure to take care of a safe tan as when we grow older our skins need extra protection. The secret for a good-looking tan? Take it slow. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF (according to dermatologists the SPF should be at least 30, but preferably 50 because it will provide better protection) and a broad spectrum block of both UVA and UVB to re-apply frequently as it will wear off.
There are several ways to enjoy sunbathing: you do not have to wear a swimsuit or lay on a lounge chair all day long. You also don’t need to speed up the whole process spending hours on the beach or next to the swimming pool with the risk of getting dehydrated, too.
Wearing a “Panama” hat and a pair of diva sunglasses while sitting outside at a cosy café table, taking a bicycle ride, or having a stroll along the seaside in the early morning or at the sunset would help you to get that instant ‘bronze’ discouraging the sunburnt. Just make sure to avoid peak sun hours usually between 10 am and 4 pm. Seek also some shade when it’s too bright: taking breaks from the sun will reduce UV intensity, and your sunburn risk which means your tan will be healthier and longer-lasting. The shade won’t protect you completely from UV rays, but it will help reduce your overall exposure.
And if you want to get a deeper impressive one, don’t sunbathe every day. According to research published in the scientific journal Molecular Cell, the pigmentation process -which protects the skin from damaging rays- works on a 48-hour cycle. Daily sunbathing can only disrupt the pigment’s production and leave skin vulnerable to damage from ultraviolet light.
Enjoying the sun every other day also has the added benefit of halving damaging radiation which can cause skin cancer, while allowing the body to complete its defence cycle and repair damage caused. So, if we go out daily to the beach, we might be interfering with the natural scheduling and synchronizing of the skin protection systems.
Shorts and tanks are fine for the shade, but, especially if you’re prone to sunburn, they aren’t very practical when it comes to UV protection. Better, if you invest in a piece that’s actually designed for sand and sun: it will be lightweight, easy to clean, and made to throw over a bikini and go.
So, if your skin is as pale as a British rose, go for some UV-protective beachwear. Clothing and accessories with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) feature tighter weaves than normal clothing which helps prevent UV rays from passing through. The average cotton tee has a UPF of 5, which means the garment allows 95% of the incoming UV rays to penetrate it, while an item with UPF 50+ will only allow 2% of the sun’s rays to pass. Among our favourite brands: Coolibar, Lilly Pulitzer, Athleta.
If your skin is already a bit used to the sun, then choose breezy pants, flowing jumpsuits and classic kaftans. Some fabrics, like denim, are generally woven tight enough and thick enough to actually block UV rays. Go jeans!
Mind your salad
Skin superfoods such as carrots, tomatoes and sweet potatoes have a very potent antioxidant called carotene. When you eat multiple servings of this fresh produce, it warms up your natural skin tone. Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale also contain large quantities of beta-carotene and are also responsible for affecting one’s skin pigmentation. Therefore, consuming regular quantities of these vegetables will also create a natural tan.
And don’t skip dark chocolate! You might not sprinkle it on your salad but, as it is packed with flavonoids that can help protect against sunburn, could be a great snack.
Don’t forget the sun, wind, and heat can dry your skin, so it is also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or fresh juices even if you don’t feel thirsty.