These days, tanning involves a lot more than a good magazine and some oil. We're breaking down the scientific meanings to get you and your skin ready for summer.
1. Amino Acids
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.
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.
3. Baby Powder
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.
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4. Barrier Cream
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).
5. 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.
6. Chemical Sunscreen
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.
Read More: 9 Ways to Shave Less This Summer
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.
8. Fitzpatrick Scale
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.
9. Free Radicals
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.
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10. Internal SPFs
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.
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