Dustin Hoffman sporting the keys to a good summer: A cold beer, dark shades and some bronzed skin in The Graduate.
A Man's Tan
It's summer's double-edged sword: you want a tan, but you don't want to actually spend your time tanning. Not to mention, there's really no such thing as a safe tan. That "base tan" some guys try to get is actually skin damage and won't protect you from getting burned, according to Joshua Zeichner, M.D. of New York's Mount Sinai Hospital. That being said, there's no doubt that most of us look a little better with some color. If your main goal is to simply not appear like the desk-dweller you are, make like a Hollywood leading man and go with a sunless tan. Thankfully, there are quality products out now which allow you to do it from the privacy and comfort of your own home.
A good scrub down is essential to achieving and maintaining an even tan. Self-tanner can grab onto dead skin cells, and exfoliating will prevent blotches and leave healthy skin that will keep its color longer.
There are a lot of marketing promises out there, but according to Manhattan dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, they all have the same main ingredient—dihydroxyacetone. "It doesn't matter if the label says it's organic or natural," he says. "Just choose the formula you like." His choice? L'Oreal Sublime gel, which he says dries quickly and doesn't feel like you have anything on. Other solid options include Supergoop's gradual SPF and clever drops by Clarins which turn any lotion into a subtle self tanner.
After you've exfoliated, make sure you're completely dry before applying the self tanner. First, rub in a lightweight lotion around your nostrils, knees, elbows, and ankles (and any other dry spots) to prevent them from turning too dark. After applying the tanner to your face, use what's left on your fingers to blend it into your hairline for a more natural look.
If you're a little skittish at the thought of dyeing your skin, bronzer is a temporary option that offers realistic results. Especially if you're just looking to add some color to your face. This oil-free formula is transparent and produces a natural, water-resistant (but washable) tan.