Sun Bum

How to Get the Perfect Sun Free Summer Tan

How to Get the Perfect Sun Free Summer Tan | Writing Between Pauses

The last time I used self tanner, I was 13 years old. 

Needless to say, I didn't do a masterful job applying it. But I dedicated myself to having bronzed legs for a solid 6 months, to the detriment of all my school uniform khaki pants. I distinctly remember one of my legs being darker than the other and applying a "thin" layer to my other leg, only to end up with it being roughly the color of balsamic vinegar. It was a mess. At the time, I used the Neutrogena Sunless Tanning Foam, which was a new product at the time; my mom had been a Jergens sunless tanner user for years. 

All tanners back then smelled absolutely terrible. And honestly, they all looked so orange. But if you couldn't afford a spray tan and wanted to avoid sun damage, it was the only way to go. 

Thankfully, things have come a long way and there are a ton of great sunless tanners on the market now. 

Why Sun Free Tanning is the Way to Go

While I truly think most of us know better by now, the truth is a lot of people still aren't educated on the effects of sun damage--or what really constitutes sun damage. 

I'm in a beauty group and every few days lately, someone asks about base tanning. Base tanning is the idea that you lie in a tanning booth, get a small tan, and therefore are protected from burning on vacations. This is incredibly irresponsible and has been disproven by multiple sources. 

If your skin changes color in any way, you are damaging your skin, whether it is a burn or a tan. And starting with a tan won't stop you from burning or from getting sun damage. In fact, your skin doesn't even have to react to have sun damage. I've never been sunburned or tanned on my face, but according to my dermatologist, I have sun damage on my face. 

There is no safe tanning when it comes to laying out or lying in tanning booths. 

Sun damage can cause a multitude of skin cancers--all of which are preventable by using sun protection. As well, sun damage causes accelerated aging, wrinkles, melasma, and more. Protect your skin & go sun less when it comes to tanning. And always, always wear SPF and physical protection when spending lots of time in the sun! (I'll cover SPF later in this post as well.) 

NKD SKN Tanner

1. Invest in your tanner. 

You can purchase a tube of sunless tanner at Target for less than $8, universally. But I highly encourage you to take this opportunity to go a bit more high end. 

On Mother's Day, I popped in to Ulta to treat myself to a gift and got the NKD SKN Tinted Tan Mousse in Medium*. It's $19.99 for a tube, more than I would really ever spend on something like this, but I'd heard good things about the brand. There are many high end sunless tanners these days though; St. Tropez is a tried-and-true brand as well. 

I was very nervous to try this tanner--my experience in middle school had left some scars, clearly--but from the get go, it was so nice. It doesn't smell at all and goes on so smooth and evenly. I put on one layer to start and it dried instantly. No stained sweatpants or sheets. The next morning, I took a shower and while the top layer did rinse off, I was left with a really great, light tan look. Not super dark, not super orange. It's very natural! 

So while $20 felt like an absolute luxury, I wouldn't ever pay anything less now. 

NKD SKN also has a Gradual Tan Daily Moisturizer that i am very interested in. 

*As a note, NKD SKN is a vegan and cruelty-free brand! 

2. Use a mitt. 

The best way to apply a perfect tan? A mitt! How did I never know about mitts before!? I'm convinced these are a new invention. I bought the Double-Sided Sunless Tan Mitt from Ulta Beauty for $9.99 (they were buy one, get one 50% off) and quite like it. Funny enough, St. Tropez sells a cheaper mitt for $5.99--and it actually looks nicer! There are also some great sunless tanner kits that include mitts, like this one from Fake Bake for $30 and this one from Tarte Cosmetics Braziliance for $39.  

A mitt helps you keep your application from streaking. It also keeps your palms and fingernails from getting stained orange! If you're planning to do a full body tan as well, a mitt helps you reach all those tricky spots--especially if you have to ask for help from your partner! 

NKD Skin Tanner and Ulta Beauty Mitt

3. Exfoliate & moisturize. 

It goes without saying that the smoother and more moisturized the surface of your skin, the better self tan goes on. The instructions on NKD SKN say not to moisturize immediately before. I had exfoliated and moisturized my legs earlier that day, so I just applied some moisturizer to my knees and ankles (to prefer going too dark in those dry spots) and it worked a charm. My ankle did end up a bit blotchy that first time, but a bit more moisturizer next time will do the trick. I did the same thing with my elbows and wrists when I did a full body application. 

4. Wear SPF. 

Keep your skin safe! When you've got the perfect summer tan, you know that taking care of your skin is important. Look for a high SPF to wear all over your body, as well as a separate facial SPF. I've used Sun Bum's SPF 30 for years and love it. If you spend a significant portion of the day in the sunshine, you need to reapply sunscreen every 45-60 minutes, covering your entire body and face; you should realistically use 1/2 to an entire bottle of sunscreen every 8 hours you spend in the sun. 

For facial SPFs, my favorite of all time is Coola's Mineral Face SPF 30. (And don't forget to put sunscreen on the part of your hair!) Coola also makes an amazing SPF 30 lip balm that's perfect for sunny days; your lips are particularly vulnerable to sun damage! 

Now, what about wearing make up? Good thing for us, there are now SPF setting sprays we can carry outside with us to keep our makeup flawless and our skin protected. Using a foundation with SPF, like Wet'n'Wild's Cushion Foundation with SPF 15, can give you good base coverage alongside using an SPF moisturizer like Coola's. I really like Ulta Beauty's SPF 50 Rose Water Setting Spray and Coola's Classic SPF 30 Setting Spray with Green Tea and Aloe

Look flawlessly tanned and protect your skin! 

3 Summer Beauty Essentials

summer beauty essentials.png

It's gonna be MAY! 

Can you believe it's May? Wasn't it just September... and Forrest's birthday... and Halloween... like a few weeks ago? Man, time flies. 

Summer is approaching at an astonishing rate and that means it is time to talk about beauty essentials. Everyone has their own ideas of what they like during the summer, but when it comes to the basics, I stand by my 3 choices: sunscreen, a summery nail polish, and a boss body cream. Here's why. 

1. Sunscreen

summer essential sunscreen

I sunburn in a matter of about 10 minutes. I still have sunburn lines on my legs from when I was pregnant. Yeah, that's a solid two years ago. Yikes. Hi skin damage! I don't leave the house without sunscreen: even on cloudy days, even when I'm not planning to be outside, and especially when I do plan to be hanging outside. Reminder: you should use an entire bottle of sunscreen if you are outside for more than 6 hours, reapplying every 45-60 minutes. I know, but most sunscreens do not last past 60 minutes, with 80 minutes being the highest threshold. Here are my top choices: 

  • Clinique Virtu-oil Body Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 30: spray sunscreens are a true gift because they are easy to apply and reapply. This mist is also paraben free and goes on smoothly. It also provides a "cooling sensation," so if you're already a little bit burnt from earlier sun exposure, it will sooth those burns as well as protect. 
  • Beautycounter Protect Stick Sunscreen: BeautyCounter is famous for their organic products that are free from "toxic ingredients." This sunscreen stick is kid friendly and super easy to apply. It's basically a deodorant stick. It smells extremely good, especially the limited edition scent "Sweet Tooth." 
  • Sun Bum SPF 50: This is the highest SPF sunscreen I have here. I usually do not wear under 50 SPF (except on my face for daily wear) and Sun Bum is the brand I pretty much always turn to. Their sunscreen is hypoallergenic, cruelty free, and water resistant. For $14.99 for a bottle at Target, it's also the cheapest & most accessible. 
  • Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30: This is another stick sunscreen and here's why I love it: it smells seriously amazing and it's formulated to actually go on your eyelids. Most sunscreens are not safe around the eyes (not even BeautyCounter's), but this stick from Fresh is. I've gotten sunburns on my eye lids before and let me tell you: no bueno. The only downside is that this sunscreen is a little on the oily side, but if you're outside in the sun, sweating and having fun, you're going to be sweating--sorry, I mean, "glistening"--anyway. 

2. Nail Polish

summer beauty essential nail polish

Nothing like a new summer nail polish to be your "signature color." I stopped wearing nail polish for the last few months, except for a few occasional applications that totally wrecked my nails. However, I still have a few favorites on my list this year. 

  • Essie in Madison Ave-Hue: I love a bright pink and this one is perfect for the summer. It's an electric jelly polish that goes perfect with the trendy, muted summer looks this year. 
  • OPI Nail Lacquer in A Great Opera-Tunity: I love a nude polish and this one is honestly so pretty. I would describe it as a coral-nude with a slight metallic sheen (like a lot of OPI polishes). It's perfect for all those summer events (weddings, barbecues, pool parties, great Instagram photos...) 
  • Nails Inc in Boho Notting Hill: this glitter topper literally makes me want to drop everything and go buy it immediately. I have a few Nails Inc glitters and they are so pretty. I love that this one looks like splatter paint: artsy, bright, and summery. 

3. Body Lotion

summer body cream

"Body lotion, Michelle?" you're probably thinking. Yes, girl, body lotion. Pools, oceans, sprinklers, sun screen, potential sun damage, drinking, barbecues... all that summer action can leave you with dry skin, especially if you get sunburned or spend a lot of time in a pool. There's nothing like a nice refreshing body lotion at the end of the day to keep you looking fly. These are my favorites. 

  • It's Skin Mini Bebe Hand Cream: I've grown increasingly obsessed with Korean beauty products and this hand cream is one of them. Firstly, it's so cute. Look at it. Secondly, it is the perfect hand cream to keep in your purse or beside your bedside table. It's thick and moisturizing without being heavy or greasy. Also, it comes in amazing scenes; my favorites are Lime and Vanilla Cotton. 
  • Lush Charity Pot Body Lotion: I resisted Lush for a long time because I am not totally sold on bath bombs (so much glitter everywhere). However, this body lotion is so good, it makes up for it. With the scent of rosewood oil and ylang ylang, it's pretty mild, but it gets the job done. Also, I love tubs of body lotion; it just feels a little bit more effective, right? 
  • Kiehl's Crème de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Body Polish: Ok, I lied a little bit. This is a body polish; however, it does moisturize as it exfoliates. In the summer, you can build up a lot of product (sunscreen, chlorine, salt water, body lotion, bronzer, etc.) on your skin, which can lead to dullness, dryness, and red spots. This polish is perfect for getting a fresh start once a week. Then apply some of that Lush Charity Pot and call it a night.