Do you know the reasons why we tan so well at the seaside? Obviously, there’s the fact that we enjoy spending longer outdoors, on the soft, warm sand, wearing very little, and going back and forth to cool off in the sea. The wind, too, makes the heat of the sun more bearable.
On top of that, remember that the water, the sea’s salt crystals and the white sand all help to reflect the sun. A greater number of UV rays are thus directed towards our skin and we therefore tan more easily. In addition, our skin tans faster in water, again because of the reflection of the sun’s rays (indeed, a similar effect is achieved by swimming in an open-air pool).
To achieve beautiful tanned skin, remember to take it slowly! Let your skin acclimatise to the sun, take regular breaks from sunbathing and avoid getting sunburnt as this will delay your next sunbathing session and make it more problematic.
But how exactly does the tanning process work? Once activated by the sun’s rays, cells called melanocytes, responsible for skin pigmentation, start to produce melanin which darkens the skin. Their aim is to protect skin cells from the dangers of UV rays(1-2). Producing melanin takes a little time and the skin remains very sensitive during the first few hours of exposure to the sun.
Even when your skin has acclimatised, it’s important to sunbathe in short, regular, bursts. Rather than roasting yourself for hours on end, opt instead for several 30 minute sessions over the course of the day.
Nutrition plays a key role in the health and appearance of the skin (3). It’s particularly important to ensure a good intake of vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to vitamins, focus in particular on vitamin C (eat kiwi and citrus fruit), to help prevent the skin from ageing (4). For an optimal intake of vitamin C, you could take a supplement like Liposomal Vitamin C. And don’t forget vitamin E, found in nuts, egg yolk and green vegetables. It’s an excellent antioxidant (try, for example, Natural E 400) (5-6).
In terms of minerals, consider supplementing with selenium, another antioxidant, which will help protect your cells from oxidative stress (see the supplement Selenium) (7). And if you want to get the benefits of all these vitamins and minerals in a single supplement, opt for the multivitamin Daily 3.
Foods containing beta-carotene are another typical recommendation. This natural pigment is a precursor of vitamin A, which is good for the skin and the immune system. Beta-carotene is found in fruits and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, melons, oranges, peppers and spinach... (8-9) To optimise your intake, you could also take a carotenoid complex (such as Carottol™).
Start the course of supplements around two weeks before exposing your skin to the sun, and continue thereafter.
To prevent sunburn and minimise the risk of skin cancer (10-11), it’s important to apply sun cream, spray or oil. The fairer or more sensitive your skin, the higher the SPF (sun protection factor) you need to choose. Remember that the sun accelerates ageing of the skin and can lead to irreversible health problems. Be especially careful when the sun’s rays are at their most powerful (between 10am and 4pm).
Ideally, start with a high SPF sunscreen... before changing to a lower protection product a few days later. This will allow you to tan more easily while remaining adequately protected. Ensure too that you soothe any sunburn with a suitable cream such as natural yogurt or aloe vera gel.
Sun-worshippers will also benefit from facial and body scrubs, ideally once or twice a week in the weeks leading up to a holiday or weekend break.
Why? Because this kind of exfoliation gets rid of dead skin cells and various other impurities and so prepares the skin for tanning. Better still, your beautiful suntan will last longer, because it won’t get washed away in the shower along with your dead skin ...
The secret to a good tan also lies in regular hydration(12). Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, especially in full sun, to avoid becoming dehydrated.
And apply a suitable moisturising cream, milk or lotion. This will help maintain your skin’s vitality and radiance. Be especially generous when it comes to your face. Skin tissue here is thinner than on the rest of the body and the face therefore tans less easily.
And there are plenty more tips for successful tanning. Did you know that natural supplements are available, specially-formulated to facilitate the tanning process? The dietary supplement Tan-Aid, for example, contains keratin hydrolysate obtained from black sheep wool. This compound, rich in melanin, helps you achieve beautiful bronzed skin fast (13).
Are you aware that you can also buy swimwear that allows UV rays to pass through? Get yourself a ‘tan-through’ swimming costume to prevent ‘tan lines’ and achieve an all-over bronzed body. And once you’ve got a colour, be sure to wear white (swimwear, t-shirts...) – it’s the perfect foil for your beautiful, tanned skin ...
A UV patch is a skin sensor designed to warn you that you’ve reached your maximum ‘sun exposure threshold’. You’ll know then that it’s time to head for the shade.
Relaxing in the sun can obviously be very pleasant. But there’s no reason why you have to assiduously stay lying down, focusing on your tan!
It’s just as enjoyable to get a tan whilst being active: swimming, beach volley-ball, cycling, badminton in the park... There’s a whole host of activities you can enjoy while at the same time achieving a beautiful, all-over tan, without even realising it.
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