Friday, 2 August 2013

Gettin' a Glow: 5 Steps to a Natural Self Tan

Glowing summer skin? Check. No harmful sunburns? Check. No harmful ingredients? Check. Getting summer colour is easy as 1-2-3 (or 1-5) with my guide to natural products that will make your skin look even and glowing.

I grew up on the east coast of Canada. Summers in Newfoundland, just like on any island, see the general population heading to the beach. Only where I'm from, beachwear is usually a windbreaker and a pair of wellies. On the plus side, covering up from head to toe to stand on the craggy cliffs and beach rocks to watch the waves crash onshore meant no one was ever blinded by the paleness of my ghostlike legs.

Imagine my surprise upon leaving my beautiful home province to discover real beaches. Sandy ones too, where a windbreaker quickly becomes an oven, and all of my skin is out to bare.

Granted, I could pull a Nigella and wear one of these, but where's the fun in that? I need my vitamin D after all. However, SPF is my new NorthFace jacket and getting a tan means feeling really bad and dealing with the potential dangers and premature ageing I'll be faced with down the road.

Still eager to fit in (peer pressure, I know), and even more eager to enjoy my time in a swimsuit, I've developed a little (albeit somewhat high maintenance) plan to get my streak on. Well, no streaks, but maybe a little streaking?

Anyway! Here it is:

1/ Prepwork Isn't Just for Kitchens
It's all in the details, so start a few days, weeks even, beforehand to get skin in shape. Drink a lot of water, forgo sugary foods and bevies and lay off the sangria. Do some exercise that will tone up and reduce water retention, eat more veggies, and begin exfoliating. I like to use a body brush for circulation, a sugar or coffee scrub in the shower, and once a week, the Come Clean exfoliating mitt. But, please, don't over exfoliate. The goal is to get rid of dryness and hydrate for a good base. If done properly, you'll be pretty shocked at how smooth and soft your skin feels after a week or so.

Try: SkinnySkinny Black Coffee scrub, $27;  Come Clean Cosmetics exfoliating mitt, $40 (available at Jacob & Sebastian in Toronto)

2/ Baths are Best
Reduce water retention by soaking in a tub with epsom salts a day or two before you plan to start self-tanning. The benefits of epsom salts are numerous, but specifically, bathing in epsom salts before self tanning is great for reducing puffiness, which will lead to a more even application, and make you look more toned. Once out of the tub, apply a body oil or lotion to keep body and limbs smooth and hydrated.

Try: Soapwalla Cedarwood & Grapefruit Detox Indulgent Soaking Salts, $12; Pai Royal Jasmine and May Chang Replenishing Body Oil, $56

3/ Take Your Time
Only fools rush in, and with self-tanning, there is no shower, towel off and slather on option. It's a process and you must be patient. Gather your things, find a good Songza playlist or favourite summer album, and remember you'll be holed up in your bathroom for some time. Get a buddy to help you if you can, and if you feel comfortable. It will make it so much easier to have someone who's got your back. Literally.

Try: The Very Best of The Beach Boys Sounds of Summer , $12

4/ Prep and Apply
Here we go to the big leagues! Start with a shower. Using a mitt or body buffer, scrub heels, knees, and elbows. Then cleanse. Once out of the shower and completely dry, apply a light coat of lotion or moisturizer to heels, knees, and elbows. When the lotion has absorbed, you're ready.

My favourite and so far only natural self-tanning choice is Chocolate Sun Cocoa Lite Sunless Tanner in lite because it's pale enough for me, but choose your shade depending on your natural skin tone as you would a bronzer. Chocolate sun is really amazing. It smells nice, is natural, and can be built up over the course of several applications for a deeper, natural looking colour. You'll wake with a slightly darker tone, but streak-free.

Using a tanning mitt if possible, start from the feet and with an upward sweeping and circular motion, apply the self-tanning cream as evenly as possible, going lightly over knees and elbows. When you get to your chest and neck area, apply as if you are applying foundation by using smaller strokes and being careful to blend up to and as close to the hairline as possible, extra careful if you have light hair. Chocolate Sun advises that for arms to: "Roll a small soft hand towel and using the smooth side of the rolled towel, very lightly sweep over outer edges of armpits, wrists, ankles, hands, feet and the inside of arms.", though I tend to do light sweeping motions with hands or the mitt and then sweep underarms just after the application, but best to see what works for you. Wash palms and between fingers after the application, if not using the mitt, and wait until the self tanner has absorbed completely before dressing. You'll need to keep your skin dry for about 8 hours, which is why I like to complete the process before bed. I also sleep on sheets that are not white, just to be cautious of transferring the product.

Try: Pai Comfrey & Calendula Calming Body Cream, $38; St. Tropez Essentials Tan Applicator Mitt, $7.50; Chocolate Sun Cocoa Lite Sunless Tanner, $42

5/ Upkeep and Enhance
With Chocolate Sun, you can apply every second day or so. This is great for building a natural looking tan, and there's no need to do the exfoliation before every application. You can build it up to your desired shade, and then take a break until you feel it's fading a little and then just apply again after a few days. I like to also use Prtty Peaushun on days I know I'll be baring my legs or will find myself in a swimsuit lounging and splashing my cares away. It's basically a luminizer for the body, with a subtle shimmer that is glow-y not show-y. (Note, this product contains phenoxyethanol as a preservative, so if that's on your don't list, then it's not for you).

Try: Prtty Peaushun Skin Tight Body Lotion $40 

Now that you've been buffed, shined and polished, you're ready for your closeup. Head to the beach with your SPF and Sunhat. No one will know you haven't been lounging about on the bow of a yacht since the beginning of June. Your secret's safe with me - and the sun!

Image Vogue via Pinterest