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How to Get the Perfect Tan This Summer

by nick

In today’s modern world, achieving the perfect tan has become a lot more important amongst men. It makes us feel more confident and attractive, plus women love it!

If you’re going on vacation to seek the sun this summer, or you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate, I’m going to outline how to safely get a tan in the sun and other options that’ll ensure you’re looking your best this summer.

Before we discuss how to get a tan, let’s first look at how and why our skin tans.

What is Tanning?

Tanning is the process through which our skin becomes darker or browner after it’s exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays.

There are two kinds of UV rays that our sun produces that gives you a tan; UVA and UVB.

UVA and UVB rays are not equal and have different wavelengths, meaning they each penetrate different layers of the skin.

UVA rays have longer wavelengths that penetrate right into the dermis, the middle layer of skin.

UVB rays have shorter wavelengths penetrate the epidermis, outermost layers of the skin.

To achieve the perfect tan you need to be exposed to sufficient amounts of UVB to stimulate melanin which darkens the cells of the epidermis, followed by enough UVA to complete the tanning process.

But are there any risks?

The answer to that is yes and some are very serious. Overexposure to the sun can cause sunburn and even skin cancer. Other risks include premature signs of ageing, such as wrinkles, sun spots and sagging skin. So how do you minimise these risks and still get the perfect tan? Let’s take a look…

8 Ways to Maximise Your Tan Safely

Exfoliate. Exfoliating your face and body before sun exposure is essential for maintaining a good tan. Using a face scrub and an exfoliating body wash will remove dead skin cells, revealing a healthier layer that won’t peel for a while (although it may increase your chances of getting sunburn if you’re not protected).

Protect your skin. There are two types of protection; sunscreen and sun block. Sunscreen has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) which is a measure of a sunscreens ability to prevent UVB rays from damaging the skin. Here’s an example of how it works: Just say it takes 10 minutes for you to start turning red without any protection; using a SPF 30 sunscreen prevents you from turning red 30 times longer – about 300 minutes (5 hours).  It basically filters the suns UV rays  – keeping most of the rays out, but letting some in. On the other hand, sun block physically reflects the sun’s rays from the skin, literally blocking the rays from penetrating your skin. So, if you want to get a tan, use sunscreen. As long as you choose a sunscreen with a sensible SPF, you’ll gradually and safely get a tan without burning.

Re-apply, re-apply, re-apply. You should apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow it to fully absorb into the skin. Re-application is extremely important. Although I stated above that if you turn red after 10 minutes exposure and use a SPF 30 sunscreen you’ll be protected for 5 hours, it is recommended that you reapply every 2 hours. However, if you; sweat a lot, go into the water (even if a waterproof lotion), or rub yourself with a towel, then sunscreen should be reapplied immediately.

Don’t use baby oil. Baby oil is a good moisturizer for your skin. It provides a barrier to retain moisture from leaving your skin. What it doesn’t do is protect you from the suns UV rays. Using it for tanning will basically fry your skin. You can buy tanning oils that range from SPF 0 to SPF 15. If you want to use oil, SPF 15 is your best option. Anything lower than that won’t adequately protect your skin from the sun’s rays.

Avoid getting tan lines.  Tan lines are not attractive so remove all clothing and accessories apart from your swim shorts when sunbathing. If you’re wearing sunglasses take them off occasionally.

Don’t get burnt. There’s the misconception among people that if you burn, it will fade away into a nice tan. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Symptoms of sunburn can vary depending on the person. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Red, sore skin
  • Skin that is warm and tender to touch
  • Flaking an peeling of the skin

If you’ve been really stupid and not taken any precaution, severe sunburn is a possibility which can cause  blistering, swelling of the skin, chills, a fever, feelings of extreme discomfort and even heat exhaustion (dizziness, headaches, nausea).

Here are a few more tips on preventing sunburn (particularly relevant if you’ve just started tanning i.e. beginning of your holiday, the start of summer etc.):

  • Stay out of the sun during peak hours – depending where you are in the world (normally midday to early afternoon)
  • Cover up and avoid wearing dark colors
  • Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on them hard to reach areas – back of your neck, your ears, behind your knees etc. Also don’t forget your feet if you’re wearing sandals, flip flops or going bare foot.
  • Apply a small amount of sunscreen in your hair to avoid burning your scalp. Wearing a hat is another option (especially if you’re bald or have a very short haircut). Some shampoos and conditioner contain SPF too.

Remember that it’s a marathon not a sprint. You will not get a tan in one day. It’ll take at least a few days to start getting the bronzed look that you’re trying to achieve. Start with short time exposures (say 2 hours) and gradually increase. Don’t overdo it!

Maintain Your Tan. Once you’re tanned it’s essential to maintain it. A good after sun lotion (a light moisturizer enriched with ingredients to soothe and cool the skin) applied all over your body twice a day will prolong the amount of time your tan will last, and prevent your skin from peeling.  Once you start to peel, your tan will disappear rather rapidly.

Sunless Tanning

Although this article is mainly about getting a tan in the sun this summer, I thought I’d outline a few of the other tanning options available.

Sun Bed


One of the advantages of using a sun bed is that you’re in control of the amount of time you want to tan. They work by producing UV rays from fitted fluorescent tubes, which tan the skin (same way as the sun). Some sun beds can emit UV rays up to five times stronger than Australian sunshine at midday. So 5-10 minutes once or twice a week for a month or so and then once a week from then on should be enough. However, using a sun bed has the same risks as overexposure of the sun. So I’ll say again – don’t overdo it! Also, always wear the goggles they provide to protect your eyes.

I tend to use sun beds a month before I go on vacation to get a base tan (I live in the UK so weather is shit most of the year!) I have fair skin so I go on a sun bed once every 48 hours for 5 minutes to gradually build up color. This will vary for you depending on your skin type. By the way; getting a base tan doesn’t mean you can sit out in the sun without sunscreen and not follow the 8 tips above. It just prepares your skin for the sun exposure it’s about to endure, lessening the chance of your skin burning once exposed. I also use sun beds to maintain my tan after I’ve returned from vacation.

Fake Tan Lotion


Using a self tanning lotion is definitely the safest way to achieve a brown hue. A lot of men feel uncomfortable about the idea of fake tanning. For some it’s just a bit too feminine. Others obviously don’t think that and coat themselves in it as you can see from the picture above. If you’re going to use fake tan, follow these tips:

  • Make sure you wash and exfoliate your face and body before you apply the tanner to ensure maximum absorption
  • Mix equal amounts of fake tan and moisturizer to achieve a consistent, streak-free coverage.
  • Get someone else to do your back.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards – otherwise orange hands.

Spray Tan


Probably the most popular way to get a sunless tan at the moment with more and more guys giving it a go. It provides an even coverage and the product dries almost straight away. If you’re thinking about giving a spray tan a go; get it done by someone that knows what they are doing i.e. a beautician or spray tan artist. There are various shades you can opt for. Less is more so if it’s your first spray tan, always go a few shades lighter than you initially think. You can always get more applied if needed, but you can’t remove (a professional should be able to advise).

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