DHA (the active ingredient in most self-tanners) reacts with these proteins in your skin to produce pigment and give you a bottled, sun-kissed glow.
L'Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Clear Self-Tanning Gel, $10.49; amazon.com
The nation of sun and surf got it right with its Slip, Slop, Slap campaign that launched in 1981. Due to staggering rates of skin cancer, Aussies were encouraged to, Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on a hat. Continuing that tradition, the nation Down Under is home to some of the most innovative (and effective) sun care products today.
Veteran spray-tanners dust their bods with this drugstore basic after appointments to reduce stickiness and ensure longer-lasting color. Experts recommend paying special attention to areas where skin touches skin, like the elbows and underarms.
Johnson's Baby Powder, $7.96 for 2; amazon.com
Tanner speak for regular body lotions, these creams are your best weapon against dark patches on the elbows, wrists, and ankles. Before using any self-tanning product, apply one of these creams to dry areas on your body to avoid getting leopard spots (parched skin soaks up more color).
Dove Cream Oil Intensive Body Lotion, $6.81; amazon.com
Basal Cell Carcinoma
The most prevalent type of skin cancer (not to mention one of the most common forms of cancer in general), basal cell carcinoma is thought to affect two million Americans a year.
A wound on the Rasta legends big toe that was initially thought to be a soccer scar turned out to be a deadly malignant melanoma. The lesson from this tragedy is to get a thorough check from a dermatologist once a year, and see a doc if you have any abnormal marks on your bod that arent healing like they should.
Unlike physical sunscreens (which deflect UV rays), chemical sunscreens provide SPF protection by absorbing harmful rays. Due to the smaller molecular size of their active ingredients (avobenzone and oxybenzone are among the most popular), these sunscreens are available in super-sheer fluid formulas.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunblock SPF 70, $8.89; amazon.com
This fashion icon started beauty trends, too. Upon returning from the South of France in the 1920s, Chanels tanned skin inspired legions of pale-faced women to suddenly crave a bronzed complexion.
The recommended temp for showering with a fake tan on is, unfortunately, lukewarm to chilly. Hot showers open up your pores, allowing self-tanner to seep out faster.
Also known as DHA, this FDA-approved self-tanning ingredient is found in most bottled-bronzers and also has the endorsement of the Skin Cancer Foundation and American Medical Society.
The best way to prep for self-tanning is to slough away dead skin cells. Forgo grainy, store-bought scrubs, which aren't strong enough to tackle stubborn self-tanner, and stick to a simple washcloth and a long, warm bath to get your skin ready for a longer-lasting tan.
This scientific classification system divides all skin types and tones into six categories based on pigmentation and genetic history. Used by dermatologists to determine the risk of developing skin cancer, this scale is also referred to in studies about tanning habits.
See also: skincancer.org
The ultimate badges of summer beauty are technically abnormal collections of melanin pigment in the skin. The sun may be the biggest culprit for their appearance, but genetics and rare diseases can also play a role.
Found in poisons like cigarette smoke and car exhaust, these reactive molecules damage cells and accelerate the aging process by attacking collagen and elastin reserves. Antioxidants such as vitamins E and C interact with and halt free radicals from wrecking havoc. Get your fill via wheat germ, apricots and leafy greens like kale and spinach.
More goof-proof than regular self-tanner, these lotions still contain DHA and will build to a full bronze glow after three to four days. "Tan boosting" products, on the other hand, use ingredients like carob extract to build color, but they take much longer to see results from.
Jergens Natural Glow Revitalizing, $11.64; amazon.com
These oh-so-obvious areas are among the first parts of your skin to show signs of sun damage. Don't forget to apply sunscreen to your hands just as often as you do to your face.
Lancôme Absolue Hand SPF15, $43; amazon.com
In-Shower Self Tanner
If the messiness of self-tanners turns you off, consider one of these speedy products. They work counter-intuitively (we thought you werent supposed get wet after self-tanning?!) by a water-activated DHA-based sugar protein, plus the application process increases the chance of streak-free color (hooray!).
Diana B. 60-Second Miracle Tan, $50; amazon.com
Get ready for some freaky science: certain foods and drinks contain a touch of SPF (most ingested grades hover around 2) that can help you fight harmful rays when you include them in your regular diet. Not substitutes for topical SPF protection, these good-for you eats are also usually rich in anti-oxidants. Try red wine, chocolate and tomatoes.
Thanks to this company, which was the first to sell at-home airbrushing equipment, bathroom primping graduated to the next level when their first kit launched in 2009.
Luminess Air Tanning Set, $149; luminessair.com
This pigment is found deep in the skin and is triggered by UV rays to cause tans. Thought to provide some degree of sun-protection, people with more melanin (and naturally darker complexions) still need to wear sunscreen to prevent against skin cancer.
See also: Any sunscreen.
Physical sunblocks use ingredients, like zinc and titanium, to block harmful UV rays, while chemical sunscreens use ingredients to effectively absorb the rays. This double-duty product with both UV protection and anti-aging benefits, is fragrance-free which is less irritating for sensitive skin, and it's loaded with vitamins (including vitamin B3, Vitamin E, and Pro-vitamin B5) to keep you looking young..
Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Daily Moisturizer, $22.99; amazon.com.
If youre plagued with freckles and moles, it can feel impossible to determine whether a spot is new or not. Enter, mole mapping, an in-office imaging system used by derms to track spot changes on your bod and face.
Pioneered in the 1930s, these cancer-fighting procedures are the most effective way to attack the most common types of skin cancer: basal and squamous cell carcinomas. Only performed by highly trained surgeons, this process involves extracting the dangerous growths while leaving as much healthy tissue untouched as possible.
Theres more to being savvy about sun protection than just paying attention to SPF. PA rankings refer to the blocks ability to protect against UVA rays, while SPF grades pertain to UVB rays.
Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion SPF 15 PA++, $28; amazon.com
Self-tanning splotches can be reduced by scrubbing with lemon juice. Or go the store-bought route, and try a product designed to lift color with ingredients like ammonium and eucalyptus leaf oil .
St. Tropez Tan Optimiser Tan Remover, $15.50; amazon.com
The key to sunscreen application is not miss a spot, including your scalp! If your part is visible (we know how you love the center-parted trend for spring), dont forget to rub an SPF stick along the exposed skin to protect from uncomfortable burns on your crown.
Clinique Targeted Protection Stick SPF45, $18; amazon.com
Did you know that the average T-shirt contains an SPF of about 5? This might sound impressive until you find out that some of the newest, trendiest clothing companies are now offering cute wardrobe staples that boast an SPF of 50 or higher. While this doesnt reduce the need for sunscreen, it certainly helps prevent unexpected burns.
Mott 50 wrap dress, $119; mott50.com
These specially formulated lotions or sprays stick to the outer layer of skin longer, resist sweat better, and often include more mattifying agents than regular blocks, allowing you to focus on spiking volleyballs and serving aces.
Banana Boat Sport SPF 110 Continuous Spray, $8.99; amazon.com
The much joked-about disease might just be real! A scary recent study showed that frequent indoor tanners might display the same classic symptoms as substance-abuse sufferers, including skipping family functions to tan, getting abnormally agitated about missing appointments, and thinking about hitting the tanning bed as soon as they wake up.
See also: Warning Signs of Tanorexia
If youre sick of messy products (and icky applications), its time to rejoice! New disposable towelettes now come saturated with glow-getting formulas that allow you to swipe-on color without dealing with lotions and streak marks.
Kate Somerville Tanning Towelettes, $48; qvc.com
While the sun emits a few different types of UV rays, there are two you really need to know about. UVB rays irritate the surface of the skin and cause inflammation (think b, like burn); UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and create DNA damage, leading to earlier signs of aging and skin cancer. Since both types of rays can sneak through clouds (contrary to popular belief), its essential to wear SPF protection everydayno matter the weather.
The subject of much debate in the dermatological community, Vitamin D is actually a hormone that lives in our skin, but its release into our bodies is activated by sun exposure. Derms are quick to remind patients that sun exposure isnt necessary to get healthy levels; fortified beverages like milk, and fish and eggs also contain the needed amounts. A quest for vitamin D is no excuse to go in the sun without SPF, ever.
For pale days when you wish you could dust your entire bod with bronzer, use one of these wash-off lotions (theyre usually heavily tinted gels, like cheek stains for your legs!) for a spot of color that will last until your next shower.
Laura Mercier Bronzing Gel, $32 lauramercier.com