We all know a fake tan is the way to go these days. Bronzed skin makes us look better. It hides cellulite and other imperfections, while also making the body appear slimmer. However, getting a streak-free faux glow can be intimidating. Here we break down the rules for getting the most gorgeous natural looking tan whether it’s at a salon, spa, or in the comfort of your own home.
All self-tanners are made up of the ingredient DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which interacts with dead cells on the epidermis to turn a brown color. Some DHA is natural, derived from beet or cane sugar, while some is manufactured synthetically. While DHA is FDA-approved for topical use, recent warnings recommend that it should not be inhaled and to avoid areas such as the eyes and the nose.
At a salon, spray tans are the method of choice for deep glowing skin in very little time. Some salons offer individualized spray tan booths, which are quick and spray the entire body, albeit, can miss some spots. Other salons and spas offer airbrush tanning applied by a skilled technician. If you opt for the latter, the technician can even sculpt body parts for a chiseled, toned look. Booth tans can be found across the country and cost around $25 per session. A tanning session with a technician ranges from $45 to $75, and can be costly if you want to maintain bronzed skin for months on end.
There are a slew of self-tanners on the market today in a variety of formulations and shades: sprays, mousses, gels, creams, lotions and towelettes. Some build color gradual, while others turn skin a deeper hue in just a few hours. With some of the newer formulas, color can last anywhere from seven to 10 days.
Prepping skin is key when doing any self-tan. Exfoliating skin with a good body or facial scrub to remove dry patches helps build a more even tan. “You want to apply your self tanner to fresh skin cells so that the tan looks its best and lasts longer,” says St. Tropez Finishing Expert Sophie Evans. It’s important to pay extra attention to the knees, ankles, and elbows as they can be drier. “These areas will go a good few shades deeper than the rest of the body and look un-natural if not prepped properly,” adds Evans.
Confused on how to choose the right shade? “A good self-tan product should adapt and work off your own individual body chemistry and skin tone,” explains Evans. “Gradual tans will normally turn you one to two shades darker and a self-tan will turn a good four to six shades darker so start light if desired, but most people end up loving the depth of a self-tan application.”
Not all self-tanners are right for everyone so it’s important to do a patch test. Evans recommends testing a block of color in a two-inch square—too much product in a concentrated area will develop too dark while a tiny dot of color will be too light. Following are some of the best self-tanners on the market.
Below are some products that are sure to give you beautiful sun-kissed skin without a trip to the salon or spa.
Start with an oil-free exfoliator like H20 Plus Sea Moss Black Sand Body Scrub ($20) containing fine black sand from lava, sea salt, Irish moss and aloe vera to give your body the perfect smooth canvas.
Friends will think you spent a weekend in the Caribbean with St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Spray ($40), which features DHA containing allo-melanin to mimic the skin’s natural melanin, in a fast-drying spray for fool-proof application.
Recently reformulated to contain no stinky odor, Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer ($8.99) is great for beginners who want to gradually develop a natural bronzed color.
TanTowel Face and Body Towelettes ($24) deliver golden skin in just a few hours, plus are great for travel.
Josie Maran Argan Self Tanning Cream ($32) contains a natural streak-free nourishing formula rich in organic argan oil and caffeine to firm trouble spots.
Not only does Caudalie Divine Legs ($38 ) smells great and contains moisturizing grape oil, but it imparts a golden color with subtle shimmer that makes ghostly-looking legs appear sleek and toned, and then easily washes off in the shower.
For noticeable missed spots, apply Tanee ($5.99), a portable pen containing bronzer and self-tanner that blends in easily and fixes mistakes in a flash.
Evans swears by the St. Tropez Applicator Mitt ($6.50) to help distribute color evenly, and guarantee no messy residue left on hands.
Are you no longer a teenager, but still battling annoying breakouts while also fighting the signs of aging. A small consolation, but the good news is you are not alone. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 40 to 50 million Americans have acne at some point in their life, and it is the most common skin problem in the US.
“Acne is always caused by hormonal imbalances, usually too much male hormone (testosterone) or not enough female hormone (estrogen) in a person’s system,” says New York City-based dermatologist Judith Hellman. “Even if the levels of those are in the normal range, an abnormal male to female hormone ratio can affect the skin.”
Red, inflamed bumps form when pores clog with p.acnes (bacteria that live on our skin) or excess oil gets trapped in hair follicles. Topical retinoids—Retin A, Adapalene, Tazarotene—and products with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide are usually the first line of defense when it comes to treating acne. Retinoids increase cell turnover and de-gunk pores as well as help smooth fine lines and wrinkles; salicylic acid exfoliates and disintegrates the oil and dirt in pores and fights inflammation; and benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that cause acne.
For moderate to severe cases of acne, topical and oral antibiotics are often prescribed, which kill bacteria and ease inflammation; however, once you go off oral antibiotics the acne issues often come back.
Over the past few years, derms have been favoring the use of high-tech lasers and light therapies to help treat the underlying causes of acne. “Not all laser systems are equally effective,” says Hellman. “Some laser and other light-based techniques aim to eliminate p.acnes. These treatments do not work for the long term, since the p.acnes organism returns to the hair follicles and continues to cause pimples.”
Hellman prefers the Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL), which targets redness and inflammation, and after just a few treatments gets rid of acne for the long term. “Once the blood vessels specific to those pimples are treated and gone, those spots do not flare up anymore,” adds Hellman. “I prefer lasers to oral medications, since they only aim at the skin, and do not pose any potential harm to other organ systems in the body.” Prices for PDL or light therapy treatments can vary depending on the size of the affected area, but expect to pay about $400 per session.
Often times, once you get rid of acne, you are left with scarring. Sublative rejuventation laser treatment—eMatrix, eTwo, and elos Plus—significantly transform acne scarring by heating the deep layers of the dermis with bi-polar radiofrequency to increase collagen production and smooth deep acne scars with minimal downtime. Prices range from $500 to $1000 per treatment.
There’s an abundance of good over-the-counter acne fighters these days, many containing quality ingredients that do not dry the skin; however, if your acne does not get better after a few weeks of using the product, it’s best to go see a dermatologist.
Biore Acne Clearing Scrub ($7.49) dissolves dirt and oil deep in pores with alumina crystals and 1 percent salicylic acid.
ClarityMD Acne System ($49.95) is a two-step blemish busting cleanser and treatment gel containing bakuchiol, a botanical with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and salicylic acid for clearer skin in less than six weeks.
Used overnight as a spot treatment or applied for 10 minutes a few times a week on blemish prone skin, Dr. Dennis Gross Clarifying Colloidal Sulfur Mask ($42) shrinks pores, blasts bacteria, and absorbs excess oil for clearer skin.
For those still getting breakouts while also fighting wrinkles, SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense ($80) contains a blend of acids—dioic acid and alpha and beta hydroxy acids—and 1.5 percent salicylic acid to control oil production, unclog pores, and even out skin texture.
These dual-sided Skin Clarifying Acne Treatment Pads ($25 for 60 wipes) are infused with 2 percent salicylic acid, witch hazel, and soothing aloe to help calm inflammation.
Neutrogena On the Spot Acne Treatment ($5.99) contains a high-concentration of benzoyl peroxide to zap pimples without drying skin.
Tanda® Zap ($49) at-home device uses blue light technology to destroy p.acne bacteria, clearing up blemishes in just a few days.
Sleek, glossy strands were, once again, a hot style at the recent runway shows, and for good reason: they can make anyone look more polished and sophisticated. But for those born with unruly, curly hair getting pin-straight locks is no easy feat. Here we break down the two most common in-salon straightening treatments, and what you can do at home to get gorgeous, shiny, frizz-free hair.
Japanese Straightening, also known as thermal reconditioning, was introduced in the U.S. a little over 10 years ago, and works by using chemicals (typically sodium hydroxide and thioglycolate) to break down the internal bonds of the hair, changing its texture. A stylist applies the solution to hair, which has been blow-dried and ironed straight, then applies a neutralizer, which closes the cuticle and locks in the new straight shape.
After it’s all done, hair will be glossy and pin-straight—you won’t even be able to curl it with a curling iron—so make sure you want to wear your hair straight every day. Depending on hair type, the first process can take anywhere from four to eight hours and can cost anywhere from $500 to $1500, with touch ups expected every three to four months. Results typically last six to 10 months, and new hair growth will be your natural texture.
The process is effective, but perhaps not for everyone. “Japanese straightening treatments contain even more chemicals than keratin, as it is a more intense treatment,” says Zahir Ziani, national creative director of Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas. “We only recommend this for very thick and very frizzy hair.”
A less permanent and invasive salon treatment that still does wonders for frizzy, curly hair is Brazlian Straightening, aka Brazilian Keratin Treatments, which have an ever-growing fan base. “As time moves along there has been a reduced desire by clients to have their hair Japanese straightened,” says Mike Martinez, stylist at Cutler Salon in New York City. “Smoothing treatments and treatments that reduce frizz have become preferred. The charm of smoothing treatments is they take away the tenacity and the frizz, but don’t kill the hair straight. The hair retains some integrity, giving more options when styling.”
Brazilian treatments use keratin, a protein that is naturally found in hair, skin and nails, and chemicals such as formaldehyde (known to cause health risks when inhaled) to smooth the surface of the hair, not break down the bonds like thermal reconditioning. A stylist applies the solution to the hair and then uses the heat of a flat iron to seal in the formula. The entire process can take two to three hours depending on hair type and usually lasts two to four months. Cost ranges from $300 to $600.
After a keratin treatment, hair is smoother, shinier, and more manageable, and you can wear it straight or wavy. “We always recommend the Brazilian Keratin Treatment at our salons as it’s the best way to improve the texture of hair for silky, smooth, and frizz-free results,” says Ziani.
If you are not to ready to spend big bucks for a salon straightening treatment, there are ways to get sleeker locks at home with semi-permanent products to help relax curls and keratin treatments to smooth and strengthen. Here’s a list of some good ones to try, whether it’s your first time or for in-between salon treatments.
KeratinPerfect 30-Day Brazilian Hair Smoothing System Essentials Collection ($95) features exclusive technology, which works to bind keratin to the cuticle and helps to smooth hair, add shine, and repel humidity and UV rays for 30 days. The kit includes two smoothing treatments plus aftercare.
A few spritzes of the keratin-infused John Frieda 3-Day Semi-Permanent Styling Spray ($9.99) gives salon-worthy results that last up to three days.
Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy 30-Day Smoothing Hair Treatment ($14.99) claims to eliminate up to 95 percent of frizz and curl for up to 30 days, and contains coconut oils in addition to keratin proteins.
Living Proof Straight ($29) contains no silicones, oils, or resins, and straightens wet or dry hair while also protecting tresses from heat styling.
Apply Ojon super sleek Restorative Blowout Perfector ($25) to wet locks before styling to combat frizz and flyaways. Rich in ojon oil, mineral-rich azurite, and keratin, this keeps hair glossy and smooth blow-dry after blow-dry.
A good flat iron is essential for keeping strands smooth and straight. Amika Ceramic Styler ($115) uses infrared and negative ion technology to help preserve moisture in the hair and protect from heat damage.