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How to Tan as You Want Whether You Have Fair or Dark Skin (How to Get the Best Tan)

I declare us fortunate. Finally, we can manage the tan shade and decide its intensity even when returning from vacay. If you want your fair skin to remain untanned after long walks on the seafront, you can do it. Likewise, if you desire a light golden hue or an intense caramel tan, it’s just as simple. And if you have olive or dark skin and you don’t want to darken it more, you only have to follow some key steps. Briefly, the secret is to control the production of melanin (skin pigment) and maintain the tan intensity you crave. It may not seem an easy task, but it’s simpler than you think.

Avoid tanning

Avoiding tanning can be quite challenging, but with the right products and tips we have prepped for you, you can get what you want in no time.

If you have fair skin

Keep in mind two words: protection and hydration. Upfront, it’s crucial to support your skin’s barrier function integer. As the temperature rises, the skin’s capillaries weaken, and it becomes excessively red. Two weeks before the holiday, you should apply moisturizers and serums rich in antioxidants — a vitamin C serum is ideal for antioxidant protection and helps prevent dark pigment from forming on your face. For the body, you can rely on an antioxidant-rich body cream, like Nivea Nourishing Skin Firming Body Lotion with Q10 and Vitamin C.

On the beach, always apply high-protection sunscreen on the face and body and, preferably, in the most creamy and emollient textures to keep the skin moist. Here are the best sunscreens without oxybenzone and octinoxate if that’s more in your line of preferences. Never forget to reapply protection every two hours or after swimming (even if the formula is waterproof). Also, during the holiday, you could replace the showers with long baths — it helps diminish the melanin content.

If you have dark skin

In dark skin, the amount of melanin is higher, so to avoid tanning you must control its action. Two weeks before the holiday, apply a vitamin C moisturizer on your body and a vitamin C serum on your face every day. Also, exfoliation one time a week for your face and body (as you usually do, I hope) is non-negotiable. Once at the beach, use an SPF 50 sunscreen in the first days, then SPF 30 to give your skin a nice glow without letting it darken too much. And moisturize your skin intensively after each beach day.

Moderate tan

To keep a moderate tan is about limiting sun exposure and using sunscreen.

If you have fair skin

The secret is to start with short sun exposure at the right time interval — before 11 AM and after 3-4 PM, never in between! Then, you can gradually decrease the SPF value. In the first three days (because this is how much time the production of melanin takes to activate), it’s OK to use SPF 50, then lower it, but never below 20. It would help to cleanse your skin with a gentle oil-based cleanser to avoid stripping essential moisture and don’t forget about an after-beach product with an illuminating effect.

If you have dark skin

You should wear SPF 30 every time you go out in the sun. Also, it helps if you take as many baths in the sea as possible — experts say that sea salt has a mild exfoliating action, which cleanses pores and helps oxygenate the skin. In the evening, to keep the tan even and avoid the unsightly accumulation of melanin, alternate the scrub with emollient cleaning products. You can try L’Occitane Softening Shower Cream.

Intense tan

Not that it’s healthy, but sometimes we can have it — with a limit, though. With proper care, it’s easy to obtain a fantastic tan all summer long.

If you have light skin

You need to help your skin produce more melanin. You can take supplements or organize your diet to benefit from extra beta-carotene (precursor of vitamin A). The higher the concentration of beta-carotene in the body, the easier it is for the skin to tan and become more resistant to the sun’s action. Yep, eating carrots helps too. Carrots encourage the production of melanin, which is what gives our skin a tan through melanocytes.

Once at the beach, it’s always good to start with SPF 50, no matter how great the temptation of a fast-tan is. You can gradually lower the protection value, reaching up to a minimum of 15 SPF after a week. 

Is your skin as fair as you turn red when staying under the sun? Cover yourself with a T-shirt and a hat — if you get sunburnt, all the effort is in vain. Two-three hours a day (but never between 12 AM and 4 PM) are enough to get a tan. In the evening, to intensify the bronze, use a product after the beach with a self-tanning effect. Check Tan-Luxe Illuminating Tanning Butter for a gradual glow and intense moisture.

Keep thermal water at hand, and spray it on your face and body each hour. After each spray, lightly tap the thermal water with a napkin; if the skin is wet, the sun can burn it because water on the skin acts as a lens, focusing sunlight onto the skin and leading to sunburn.

If you have dark skin

If you have dark skin you will not encounter difficulties in getting an intense tan, but you should keep in mind that protection is a must, even if it has lower SPF values. If the skin pigment is darker doesn’t mean you’re safe from premature aging caused by UV damage.

Who wrote this?
Picture of Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu is the founder of Women's Concepts and a certified skincare consultant. She has over five years of experience working in the beauty editorial industry and over a decade as an acne sufferer. With a background in dermatological research, Ana brings a wealth of expertise to a diverse range of topics, from buzzy ingredients to anti-aging and acne advice. She holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram.
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