Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it’s also one of the most important. That’s why it’s so important that you protect it. Skin cancer costs loads of money to deal with—plus, it’s cancer—and no one wants to spend thousands of dollars on wrinkle cream to make up for a lifetime of sun exposure.
In a nutshell, avoid damaging your skin by staying out of the sun and the tanning salon.
We all want that fresh-from-the-beach glow, but, starting July 1, people who tan at salons will be taxed an additional 10% under the new health care bill. Sunless tanning, however, doesn’t face extra penalties…it also doesn’t give you wrinkles.
LearnVest approves two ways to get tan you want for your strapless bridesmaid dress: spray tans and home tanning products. Of course, spray tans can make us nervous. Who do you think we are, Snooki?
Control yourselves. Spray tanning can be both respectable and affordable. When we prep for an event, we get a great salon spray tan for only $25. Compare that to thousands of dollars, a 10% tax…and wrinkles.
Here are our 6 steps to an inexpensive glow that actually looks good, plus the 5 best self-tanners:
1. Get Your Tan At Least A Few Days Before Your Event
Avoid a fake tan casualty like the Donald’s uneven orange or Paris Hilton’s over-enthusiastic copper by giving yourself time for damage control. Aim to tan two days before your event, says airbrush artist Tamar Vezirian of Gotham Glow, who has bronzed models, silver screen starlets, reality TV stars, and brides. If the tan isn’t all you hoped for, Vezirian recommends soaking in a hot bath and then exfoliating like crazy. Finish by using lotion with alpha hydroxy acid.
2. Play The Field
Spray tans can run from $15 for a booth session to upward of $100 for a custom body airbrush by a professional who’ll add subtle shading to flatter your bod. Save money by finding out which salons offer discounts for new customers. (Ours offers new customers six booth tans for the price of three.) A great way to find short-notice sales is to follow local salons on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget to read reviews on sites like Yelp or Citysearch to find out which machines and technicians are best.
3. Get Kickbacks For Quantity.
If you have a slew of events on your calendar, look for a multi-tan package. For example, we know of salons that will knock off 10% to 20% when you buy a package. If you are a regular somewhere, try recommending a friend—many places will kick back $10 or more toward your next service as a thank-you. Ask about referral deals at check-in.
4. Lather, Then Slather.
Do any exfoliating, mani/pedis, waxing, or shaving ahead of time, because exfoliating will strip away the top layers of skin cells that have been bronzed by the tanning treatment. Then, slather on moisturizer before and after you apply tanning products, to help your glow last longer. Avoid showering and sweating for at least a few hours after your new tan, in order to give the bronzing chemicals time to soak in and work their magic.
5. Keep It Real.
Fake tans get a bad rap because of people who aim for shades that are way too dark for them. “It’s always better to go for the lighter shade,” says Vezirian, who has been wielding an airbrush gun for seven years. Doing so will ensure that your tan fades gracefully and that you’ll get a better bronze for your buck.
6. The Do-It-Yourself Option.
As long as you’re confident in your streak-free slathering skills, try a store-bought product. We recommend you wear rubber gloves when you apply these products, so that your hands don’t turn out splotchy and orange—otherwise, just wash them thoroughly afterward.
We’ve prepared a slide show of our favorite products for under $10. We swear we don’t have a deal with L’Oreal—we list multiple products from them simply because they have the best reviews.
Click the first image to start the slide show. >>
Remember: The “free” option of sprawling out in the sun isn’t actually free at all. From skin cancer to blotchy brown spots, you’ll be paying the damages to your dermatologist for years to come.