To Tan or Not to Tan?

As summer approaches, and wedding/tank top/swimsuit season draws closer, many smart ladies start to consider taking some rather drastic measures in order to look better. An otherwise bright and rational girl might find herself crash dieting, excessively exercising, and, craziest of all, tanning.

I’ve been planning on writing a post about self tanners for quite some time, but decided that I’d better get on it after talking to my sister yesterday. In preparation for her best friend’s wedding, she’s thinking of hitting the tanning booth so she’ll look better in her dress.

“Wait!” I told her. “Let me write my post about self tanners first.”

I obviously don’t need to preach about how dangerous tanning is. We all know the risks. Besides the obvious risk of cancer, nobody really wants sun spots, wrinkles, or leathery skin, do they? Yet the urge to tan can be a hard one to suppress.

I’ll admit, I’m guilty of lying in the sun from time, and have even stepped into a tanning booth more than once. (In my defense, I wore sunscreen every time.) The biggest draw for me is that the heat feels good. And yes, I feel a little sexier with a little summery glow. Just a baby one. Is a baby tan that bad?

In a word, yes. Which is why I love the idea of sunless tanners.  I especially love the body lotions that gradually build up over the course of a few days to give you a slight, natural-looking tan. Many of them are also firming lotions, so bathing suit fear can be doubly silenced. So, easy choice, right? Just go to the drugstore, grab a bottle of lotion, and get busy moisturizing.

Not exactly.

My biggest issue with self tanning lotions is that they tend to smell terrible. Even under the somewhat tropical scents that many lotions add, I just smell the weird chemicals that will turn my skin brown. Another big issue, of course, is streaking (as in streaks of color, not running around town naked). One must be very diligent when one is applying one’s self tanner. Just as bad as streaking is the unfortunate build up of pigment that flocks to dry patches – knees, elbows, and ankles are all prime spots.

What’s a pretty lady to do?

Every year companies get better and better at hiding that chemical smell, and this year I’ve found one that actually smells fresh. Victoria’s Secret Sunkissed Bronze Instant Self Tan Lotion with Tint is my sunless tanner pick this year. Not only does it smell good, it’s fast-acting. The lotion itself acts like a bronzer for your body, giving your skin a nice beachy glow instantly. After that, the self tanner gets to work. My skin turned a shade or two darker overnight, so that I looked a little tan, but not scary. With only one application, the color lasted about 5 days.

I did end up with some dark spots on my ankles, and a silly looking white circle around my belly button. For the most even application, here’s your best plan of attack:

Shower and exfoliate. Getting rid of dry skin will aid in a more uniform application. After the shower, dry off completely. Carefully and evenly distribute the lotion all over your body. I recommend doing this in front of a mirror so you can see any glaring missed areas. After application is complete, wash hands thoroughly. Using a dry towel or wash cloth, gently rub ankles and wrists to prevent any dark streaks. You can also rub elbows and knees if you think there might be too much pigment. Let lotion dry for at least 5 minutes before dressing.

Brighten Your Day

So, here we are, mid-February, still stuck in our winter clothes despite the beautiful resort wear spreads in all the fashion magazines. Outside the days are slowly getting longer, but the snow piles do not appear to be growing any smaller, and I don’t know about the rest of you, but my skin has reached that special level of pasty where it begins to glow in the dark.

It would be an understatement to say that I need a pick-me-up. And thanks to some new products from the Victoria’s Secret Beauty Rush line, I’ve got one.

Two products stand out for me, in quality, color, and price. The first is Beauty Rush Nail Paint, which I bought in the hot pink Berry Pretty shade. The color is fun and bright, and looks great with my (extremely) pale coloring. I painted my toenails with it over a week ago and it still hasn’t chipped or faded. And just having a tropical color on my nails makes me feel a little bit warmer and sunnier in general. Well worth the $6 I paid for the polish.

The second product was a gift from my best friend. She purchased a tube of the Beauty Rush Glossy Shinestick in Melon Out and loved it so much, she bought me one too. This is a sweet-smelling gloss that is super smooth and glossy, with a little punch of pretty pink color that has been bringing out my sassy side. I can’t help but smile whenever I wear the stuff, and it appears that other people can’t help but smile at me – at work, in the grocery store, on the street. Again, soft lips, a good mood, and smiles galore from everyone you meet; for less than ten bucks, how can you go wrong?

Lazy Beauty

Maybe it’s the sweltering mid-August heat, or maybe it’s just that I’m way too busy these days, but lately I’ve been practicing what can only be called lazy beauty. My once meticulous nighttime skincare routine of cleansing, moisturizing, and doing regular at-home chemical peels (I like Anew Clinical Advanced Retexturizing Peel, available from Avon) has fallen by the wayside. I’m lucky if I can be bothered to wash my face before falling into bed. Fortunately for my face, I recently tried the new EZ4U 2 GO 4-in-1 facial towelettes from mdskincare. They come in convenient individual packages and are about as easy to use as it gets: remove from package, swipe over face, pass out. The package claims that they cleanse, balance, treat and moisturize in one step, and I have to say, my skin has glowed every time I used one. And, unlike most of the other facial towelettes I’ve tried, these don’t dry out my skin.

Other time saving, multi-tasking products I’ve been using? Venus Spa Breeze disposable razors, which have bars of shave gel built in. In my experience, they don’t give you as close a shave as traditional razors, but they make shaving so much less of a pain that I don’t mind shaving a little more often.

Since it’s summer, I’ve also been skipping out on body lotion (come fall I will have to go back to slathering on a layer of the stuff every time I step out of the shower) and instead have just been spritzing on Victoria’s Secret Beauty Rush Body Double Mist. The perfumed body spray has skin conditioners in it to make you soft while you smell good, and it comes in a variety of scents. My favorite is Coconut Craze.

As far as makeup is concerned I’ve been taking the very easy road: tinted moisturizer, lip gloss, and a little powder on my nose. To give myself a little color, I’ll dust blush on my cheeks and eyelids for a natural, all over pick-me-up. My favorite blush? The classic, can’t-go-wrong shade, Nars orgasm.

I’m not the only one paring down my routine. My boyfriend recently starting using Nivea for Men Active 3 Shower Shampoo and Shave, and 3-in-1 product that, you guessed it, can be used as a shampoo, body wash, and shaving cream. He loves it, and I’ve gotta rave about it too. His hair is soft, his skin is smooth, and boy does it smell fantastic.

Lazy never looked (or smelled) so good.