That Healthy Glow

By Linda Pescatore

March 7, 2008 5 min read


Bright ideas for a deeper tan without UV exposure

By Linda Pescatore

Copley News Service

Is there anything that goes better with a cool dress and a hot date than warm, golden skin? It's the perfect accessory for this time of year. And with a healthy glow, you can wear less makeup and leave the hosiery at home.

Unpredictable sunshine and concerns about damage from ultraviolet rays, however, mean you should consider going UV-free, using one of the many self-tanners on the market. Most contain dihydroxyacetone - don't bother pronouncing it. It's better known as DHA, a nontoxic carbohydrate derived from vegetables. DHA reacts with amino acids in the skin's surface to darken the skin. The Food and Drug Administration has approved DHA for external application, but recommends you avoid inhaling it or applying it to your lip or eye areas.

Here are some products to give you that beachy glow, both with and without DHA:

- Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel ($29.50).

Clarins is a leading maker of self-tanners, and this gel is the star of their line, according to Chantal Sanders, the company's U.S. spa director. Its silky formula glides on and dries almost immediately for an easy, streak-free application. It has a clean, light scent and leaves skin oh-so-soft.

Sanders advises applying the gel the day before an event, so the DHA has enough time to work but not enough time to fade. For best results, slough with a loofah or body scrub in the shower beforehand.

"Exfoliation is the key step to get the skin in the best condition before the application of a self-tanner," Sanders says. A plant-extract ingredient then slows the shedding of skin cells, according to product literature, and that will prolong your tan.

Another way to prolong and build your tan is through repeat applications on successive days, says Clarins representative Megan Dennen. If you've reapplied more than three days in a row, you'll want to exfoliate again, she advises. Clarins is available at cosmetics counters at better department stores nationwide.

- Mystic Tan ($15 to $30).

If you want quick, all-over color, check out Mystic Tan. It sprays on in seconds as you stand in a special booth at a tanning salon. And what's really cool is it uses something called MagneTan technology to cling to every exposed surface of your skin using your body's own magnetism.

There are two formulas, original and premium. Premium produces a darker tan.

"I would recommend that for someone who already has a good color to begin with, but probably not for someone who's going from very, very pale to tan," says Mystic Tan spokeswoman Lynaia Lutes. "The difference just isn't going to look natural."

Again, you must plan your tan. Schedule your session 24 to 48 hours before your event for maximum bronzing, exfoliate in the morning and use only oil-free moisturizers, Lutes says.

"Anything that's oil-based will block the development of DHA," she says. Use plenty of Mystic Tan's blending cream on areas such as the palms of your hands and the nail beds, which you don't want to tan.

"As long as you apply a lot of that, you're going to have a great result," Lutes says. A video at the tanning salon (or online at explains the whole process.

To find a salon, visit the Web site, click on "Find an authentic location," and enter your ZIP code. If you're under 18, ask the salon whether you must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

- Stila Sun Gel ($24) and Stila Sun Shimmer Dry Oil ($26).

Stila's products don't contain DHA; they're temporary stains that wash off in the shower. But don't let the word "stain" scare you; they won't discolor your clothes, according to Sarah Lucero, Stila's global director of education. They're also water-resistant and fragrance-free, a big plus if you don't like the characteristic starchy scent of DHA as it works.

Sun Gel is recommended for both face and body, and the Dry Oil - containing macadamia, jojoba, sandalwood and barley extracts along with a bit of shimmer - is best for body only. Since they work immediately, you can wait until the day of your event, but it still helps to prepare the skin.

"I suggest doing a nice body scrub in the shower, and then immediately moisturize with body lotion," Lucero says. "A great tip for fair people is to mix equal parts of self-tanner with body lotion, and it doesn't go on too strong."

A stain can help you even out your color. "You can easily fix tan lines with your fingertip or a sponge or a small brush," Lucero says.

Find Stila products at Sephora and online at

? Copley News Service

Visit Copley News Service at

Like it? Share it!

  • 0