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How to Make Your Tan Exactly as You Want for Light & Dark Skin

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I declare us fortunate; finally, we can manage the bronze shade, and decide its intensity even when returning from vacay. If you want your light 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 bronze, it’s just as simple. And if you have olive or dark skin and you don’t want to darken it too much, you only have to use some key products. Briefly, the secret is to control the production of melanin (skin pigment) and maintain the bronze intensity that you crave. It may not seem easy, but it’s simpler than you think if you follow these tips.

What to do to avoid tanning

Avoiding tanning can be challenging — especially if you’re on a tropical island like the one I’m dreaming about now — but with the right products and tips, you can get what you want in no time.

How to avoid tanning if you have light skin

Keep in mind two words: protection and hydration. First upfront, it’s crucial to support the skin’s barrier. As the temperature rises, the skin’s capillaries weaken, and it becomes excessively red. Two weeks before the holiday, you should start applying moisturizers and serums rich in antioxidants and bioflavonoids (to increase the elasticity of the capillaries). A vitamin C serum is ideal for antioxidant protection and shield against dark pigment.

On the beach, always apply high protection sunscreen and, preferably, in the most creamy and emollient textures. Here are the best sunscreens without oxybenzone and octinoxate. Never forget reapplying 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 will diminish the melanin effect.

How to avoid tanning if you have dark skin

In this case, the amount of melanin in the skin is higher, so to avoid tanning, you must control its action. Two weeks before the holiday, apply a vitamin C cream 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 week, then SPF 30 to give your skin a nice glow without letting it darken too much. 

What to do for a moderate tan

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

If you have light skin

The secret is to start with short exposures 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 oil-based formulas to avoid dehydration, 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.

What to do for an intense tan

Not that it’s healthy, but an intense tan is sexy, and 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. 

Are you that white that 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 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 this one with organic and natural ingredients.

Keep thermal water on 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.

If you have dark skin

You will not encounter difficulties in obtaining an intense tan, but you must keep in mind that protection is a must, even if it’s lower. If the skin pigment is darker doesn’t mean you’re safe from premature aging caused by UV rays.

Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana is a sociologist and feminist with a shared passion for literature, psychology, and skincare, the combo that made her determined to start Women's Concepts. With over five years of experience in dermatological research, she has now become a certified skincare consultant keen to convince others of the importance of a diligent routine. Her close relationships with dermatologists around the globe, along with years of researching, analyzing studies, and hand-testing products on a daily basis, made Ana one of the best persons you can get advice from.
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Women's Concepts relies on the latest scientific research to provide accurate, complete, and fact-based information in skincare, on which we're willing to stake our reputation. Our team includes skincare experts who are highly regarded in their fields and committed to upholding the best standards of research. We spend quality time vetting every single product we recommend and double-checking all the facts shared on Women's Concepts. We always stand on the side of inclusivity, and our mission is to help everyone fix their skin issues as they arise and leverage the products they buy to achieve their goals. You can view our expert review board and everything about our editorial guidelines here.
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