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Tanning lotions have come a long way

By Al Varela

Dear Al: I always feel awkward at the start of the swimming season since I am so pale. I would like to have a tan before my first day at the beach and have tried self-tan creams but they always make my skin look spotted or orange. Do you have a solution for me?

From the times when people wouldn't dare be seen with a tan and possibly be mistaken for a person who had to work for a living, to the times when a luscious tan was the badge of the leisure class, to the times when a tan meant a person was abusing their skin and risking serious skin damage, the art of tanning has evolved.

The solution is to achieve a superior, healthy tan while at the same time minimizing the risk for sun damage to the skin. Self-tanning products are the way to go if they give you a natural look. If being pale makes you feel like a fish out of water, a lousy self-tanner will make you feel like the main act in a show that involves three rings.

The best way to apply a tanning product is to have your skin care specialist do it for you. Many salons offer this service and it is the easiest way to ensure an even and proper application to the skin.

These products deepen the color of your skin by raising the level of your own natural skin pigment known as melanin. If not applied properly these products can produce a blotchy, uneven and unnatural skin tone.

Prior to using a self tanner it is important that your skin is able to allow the product to penetrate evenly. You must always exfoliate the skin to remove any excess dead skin particles which will block the absorption of the cream. The skin must also be moisturized since any dry spots will not react to the tanner.

Apply the product evenly to your skin, being careful to always apply less tanner to the feet, knees and elbows as these areas tend to absorb quicker and will end up being darker. This procedure must be repeated several times for a week before you go to the beach.

Orlane's Self Tanning Cream and the Auto Bronzant from Decleor are excellent self- tanners that will not leave your skin orange. Remember that once you have the tan you like you must always use a sun block and sun protection while actually exposed to the sun.

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