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.
While nail art itself has existed for decades (in the 1970s, salon aestheticians used to draw cute designs with pens on polished nails), the practice today is still a hands-on experience, but with many more options. You can visit your nail art salon and ask them to create your heart’s desire. Or, you could just shop for nail lacquers by brands like L’Oreal, Illamasqua, Sally Hansen, and Essie and create looks that will make even your aesthetician envious.
Here are ways to take your digits to another level using just a few nail lacquers:
Illamasqua Speckled Nail Varnish ($16): These new speckled nail varnishes from Illamasqua are a nail artist’s dream. All you need to do is to put two coats of these speckled lacquers on the nails, which in and of themselves look as though you’ve gone to a salon and had the artist paint slate-colored specks on your digits. You can take it one step further to create more complexity and texture by adding an Essie’s LuxEffects bling topcoat on top of this.
L’Oreal Colour Riche Nail ($5.99): The six new Colour Riche nail lacquer shades for spring from L’Oreal are both sumptuous and drool worthy. They offer your digits a great splash of color, and an ideal canvas for nail art or special effects. Inspired by exotic flowers, bold hues just beg for you to go to town with nail art. New Money is a delicious lime green shade that’s great for tartan stripes, or a bling look, as shown. To get this look, apply a base coat, two coats of Colour Riche, a top coat (Essie’s new Good To Go is a quick drying choice, as is No Chips Ahead), and the Essie LuxEffects shade called Set in Stones.
Sally Hansen Lustre Shine ($7.29): Infused with real silver, Sally Hansen’s Lustre Shine Nail Color was inspired by the iridescence of a peacock feather, as well as the colors of molten, liquid metal. Available in several shades, options range from Copperhead to Plume. While, it’s entirely possible to use Lustre Shine solo, you will get a richer texture and an enhanced”nail art” look by applying it on top of other nail lacquers. We find that Lustre Shine helps create a beautiful and easy ombre silver effect to just about any nail polish.
Tips on Creating Effortless Nail Art
Less is definitely more, and there are some terrific products, such as Essie’s new nail lacquer bases in All in One, Millionails (with iron) and Good to Go top coat that will make your task with nail art much, much easier. Here are some tips:
- Always use a base coat; this will help extend the shelf life of your nail art.
- Choose a nice neutral base color as a canvas for extras.
- Experiment with textures.
- Go for easy nail art textures like magnetic nail polish and bling effects for a glam look.
- Seal with a top coat.
Puns aside, sleep and beauty are inextricably linked in fairy tales and real life.
The amount and quality of sleep we get each night affects more than our mood and health, it also affects our appearance. “Everybody knows someone who doesn’t sleep well, based on how they look,” says Scottsdale, Arizona-based sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD, author of many books including Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep.
Don’t think people notice? Think again. Researchers from the Medical Institutet Karolinska in Stockholm, Sweden, report that when we are sleep deprived, we actually repel people who we meet.
The tell-tale signs of sleep loss on our appearance are:
• Puffy eyes
• Dark raccoon-like circles underneath your eyes
• Ashen skin tone
• Weight gain
Puffy eyes and dark under-eye circles are not necessarily caused by lack of good quality sleep, but they are certainly made worse by it. “If your mom or grandmother had puffy eyes, you may have them too,” he says. “Families can have a genetic propensity for fat around eye the sockets, but the more sleep deprived you are, the more likely you will hold onto fluid under the eyes, which makes puffiness worse.”
Dark circles too may run in families. “People with darker skin types are more prone to raccoon eyes,” he says. “This is also a place where blood pools when you are sleep deprived.”
And sleep loss can be hard on our waistlines and make it easier to gain weight, Breus says. “When you are sleep deprived, you have more ghrelin, the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat,” he says. You also have less leptin, the hormone that tells you to stop eating.
More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain. “You are also reaching for cookies, cakes and pies, and other not-quite-healthy choices,” he says. When you are tired, you also are less likely to exercise and do other things that you know are good for you.
Don’t want to be a sleepless beauty anymore? There’s lots you can do to get a better night’s sleep, including:
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Turn your bedroom into a cave. (Make sure it’s quiet, dark and cool.)
Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only.
Cut off all caffeine by 2 PM.
No more night caps. Avoid alcohol for the two or three hours before bed.
Exercise daily. If your fitness routine gets you too riled up, do it at least four hours before bed, says Breus. The latest results of the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America® poll show that people who exercise sleep better than those who don’t.
Have your time in the sun. Aim for 15 minutes of sunlight each day this helps regulate your body’s internal clock.
Relax with a warm bath or another calming ritual before bed.
Avoid anything stressful before bed. This includes paying bills, texting with a frenemy, or looking up an ex on Facebook.
Skip the melatonin unless you have jet lag.
There is much ado about the sleep-enhancing benefits of melatonin, but this supplement has a role in treating jet lag and circadian rhythm disorders only, Breus says. “It is not a sleep initiator, it is a sleep regulator.”
Choose your bedtime snack wisely.
A glass of warm milk or a cup of Sleepy Time or chamomile tea may help you relax before bed and that’s a good thing, says Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., M.P.H, a sleep researcher and neurology instructor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Bedtime snacks to avoid include chocolate—which can be loaded with caffeine—and fatty or spicy foods that can cause sleep-stealing heartburn. “Have a small snack before bed so you don’t go to sleep hungry, but try not to eat a heavy meal too close to bed,” she says. Don’t overdo it on the milk or tea either or you will be running to the bathroom all night.
Know when to see your doctor.
“If you are having trouble sleeping for a couple of weeks and it is affecting your quality of life, see a sleep specialist or discuss your concerns with your doctor to see if you have a sleep disorder,” Baron says. All the warm milk in the world can’t cure a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea.