Whether you’ve been sunning yourself in exotic climes, or have been lucky enough to catch some homeland bronze, there’s nothing worse than a fading tan to prompt those holiday blues. But of course, this is 2016, and so there are now plenty of things you can do to prolong your suntan.
From what to eat and how to care for your skin to the clever product innovations you need on the bathroom shelf, we’ve rounded up all the must-know info on stretching out your bronze and prolonging that suntan.
Call this the foolproof guide to your longest-lasting tan ever.
We can’t stress this enough: Obsessive moisturising is the ultimate key to prolonging that tan. Since your bronze colour really only exists in the surface layers of your skin, you need to stay soft, supple and well hydrated from face to feet to avoid any dryness, flaking and peeling.
Start the cycle by prepping your skin before you jet off; exfoliate with a nourishing scrub like Ren Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish (£32), and moisturise from head to toe every morning and evening. Do the same while you’re away; look for a broad spectrum SPF that contains nourishing skincare ingredients to keep things going while you tan, and keep slathering on the moisturiser when you’re back on home soil.
There are plenty of ”tan-prolonging” products out there, but how do you know they’re not just a gimmick? Of course, some are; jumping on the fact that well-moisturised skin will always a hold a tan better, some of these are simply hyped-up body creams. Others, however, are using innovative skin science and tech-savvy formulations to boost your skin’s own natural melanin production (that’s what gives us our tan, of course) on a cellular level. Those are the ones you need to really keep that glow going.
Look for oils and lotions that deeply hydrate skin —hyaluronic acid, glycerin and plant oil extracts are key here—which also contain ingredients such as inositol (an extract derived from the Carob tree), tyrosine (an amino acid found naturally in the body) and psoralen (derived from bergamot oil), which all work to stimulate the synthesis of melanin in the body.
Steer clear of long, steamy showers or lengthy soaks in a hot bath; the warmer the water the more it’s likely to dry out your skin, leading to the flaking and peeling you want to avoid. Instead, opt for cooler, shorter rinses and use moisturising washes, shower creams and oils, to keep your skin’s hydration levels up.
Gentle exfoliation using a puff, soft loofah or body brush is a good idea to avoid a build-up of dead skin cells from dulling your skin, but go lightly - you don’t want to speed cell turnover along too much.
As discussed, keeping your skin hydrated is key—the same goes for your body as a whole, so drink plenty of water during the day to keep your hydration levels and skin cells happy. Certain foods could also help to prolong your glow by stimulating increased melanin production.
Turkey, egg whites, avocado, salmon and cottage cheese are all high in tyrosine, the amino acid that plays a key role in the body’s melanin production, while beta-carotene and lycopene, which can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, tomatoes and watermelon, can all help to prolong and support your skin’s melanin production, aka your tan.
There’s no harm in a little helping hand from self-tanners that work to deepen the colour of your bronze as yours starts to fade naturally. Look for olive-tinted tanners, like Lancôme Flash Bronzer Self-Tanning Lotion (£25), for the most convincing sun-kissed glow.
Fake tans that adapt to your skin tone, like St Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse (£31), are also a good move, as they’ll help to keep your own individual shade going for longer.
Ready to see our pick of the best tan prolonging products? Start scrolling for your 10 ultimate pre- and post-holiday skincare kit.
Great for gentle cleansing after a day in the sun, this moisturising shower cream contains glycerin to boost hydration levels, plus tea tree oil to rid your skin of bacteria and product build-up.
Great for face and body, this tan-enhancing lotion boosts melanin production thanks to activating agent acetyl-tyrosine while helping to repair and replenish skin following hours in the sunshine.
Packed with natural oils to replenish sun-exposed skin, this face balm works to help repair sun damage and fight signs of ageing while helping you to maintain the glow.
A soothing skin lotion to help calm and hydrate skin following sun exposure, the formula also contains low levels of tanning agents to help give a boost either during or after your holiday.
Green People’s SPF15 includes inositol to boost natural melanin production while also protecting skin against sun damage and helping maintain moisture levels.
A sell-out success, Guerlain’s sun serum can be added to your existing face and body lotion to both stimulate melanin production for a deeper natural tan, along with provide a helping hand from subtle tanners.
Containing both oleoyl tyrosine and acetyl tyrosine, this clever formula both stimulates and helps distribute melanin for a quicker, longer-lasting natural tan.
Designed to stimulate melanin production thanks to the activating agent inositol, this nourishing lotion keeps your bronze going strong. Apply it daily in the run-up to your holiday, as well as during and after.
Prep your skin ahead of your holiday with this oil-free lotion rich in antioxidants that help prevent skin from drying out in the sun and melanin-activating agent tanositol.
When your tan starts to fade, despite all your best efforts to prolong it, reach for this St. Tropez booster. As well giving your natural melanin a boost, the self-tanning agents adapt to your specific skin tone to bring back your own individual glow.
Opening Image: Free People; Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/Getty