Gorgeous, glowing skin ranks high on our list of summertime favorites—but the wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and skin cancer that come from baking in the sun? Not so much. In a quest for bronzed skin without the consequences, we chatted with dermatologists Melanie Palm, M.D., MBA and Jessica Weiser, M.D., who offered helpful tips for getting a tan that's truly healthy.
While lying out poolside might be enjoyable, both derms agreed there is no “safe” way to tan when UV rays are involved. “Sun exposure and tanning cause a change in the integrity of our skin,” Palm tells InStyle. “Long-term exposure to sun creates an environment that encourages enzymes that break down our collagen to be increased, further depleting the skin of its suppleness.” So, how can we earn our bronzed-goddess finish without totally damaging our skin? Scroll through to find out.
Opt for a Self-Tanner
Self-tanners are a sunless (and long lasting!) option for a summer glow. Simply apply, and watch skin instantly deepen to a bronze that will last for 7 to 10 days. "Self-tanners color just the top layers of the skin and gradually fade as the skin naturally exfoliates over time," Palm says. For quick results, we love Clarins Self-Tanning Instant Gel ($37; sephora.com) or St. Tropez Tanning Essentials Self Tan Luxe Dry Oil ($50; sephora.com).
Add Bronzer to Your Makeup Routine
Fortunately, the right makeup has the ability to fake a flawless tan, which is where bronzer comes to the rescue. After you've perfectly blended your foundation, simply apply the bronzer of your choice for an effortless glow. We adore Lancôme Star Bronzer Magic Bronzing Brush ($35; sephora.com), which can tackle both the face and body.
Try a Spray Tan
Tanning beds are obviously no safer than sun exposure. Instead, head to the pros for a spray tan. To make yours longer lasting, be sure to exfoliate before and moisturize every day following.
Toss the Tanning Oils
According to Weiser, "Tanning oils works by attracting and concentrating the ultraviolet rays onto the skin surface to accelerate the tanning process." Palm explains that this means they actually provide less skin protection than applying nothing at all. For this reason, banishing these dangerous oils from your beach bag, stat.
Frequently Apply Sunscreen to Prevent an Unhealthy Tan
Preventing solar damage, Weiser says, comes down blocking UV rays. "Wearing sunscreen in liberally applied coatings and with frequent reapplication can protect against developing a tan," she says. "A tan isn’t healthy," stresses Palm. "It is extremely aging to the skin, and most importantly can lead to skin cancer." To keep skin extra safe while in the sun, Palm recommends a broad spectrum of at least SPF 30 that also contains zinc, which is a physical blocking sunscreen agent.