How to Get a Healthy, Natural-Looking Tan Without the Sun

Don't be like the guy in this photo. When it comes to tanning, we're all for faking it.

Image courtesy of Getty.

Single out the one feature many of Hollywood's leading men—like George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, and even this month's cover star, Justin Theroux—share. It's not as obvious as you think, and sometimes so subtle that you don't even notice it: tanned skin.

While no one can argue that sun-kissed skin doesn't look great, achieving it the natural way isn't healthy. Besides dryness, wrinkles, and sun spots, exposure to sun's damaging rays can lead to skin cancer, which is now the most common cancer in the United States.

Enter Sophie Evans. As a celebrity "skin finisher" and spokeswoman for the tanning brand St. Tropez, Evans has taken care of the mugs and bodies of some of the world's most recognizable men, gracing them with a glow without sun's nasty side effects. "It's a secret weapon," reveals Evan. "Loads of men use it, but don't want you to know." Since booking a one-on-one session with Evans is out of reach for most of us, we asked her to share some expert tips on how to get your glow on at home.

Stay smooth.

Because "a tan is only as good as the skin it's on," Evans says to exfoliate and shave before applying any self or gradual tanning products. That way your skin will be a blank canvas, ensuring a seamless, streak-free glow. Evans favors this body polish for prepping, with its spherical beads. Pay extra attention to rough zones like elbows, knees, and feet, to make sure they're as smooth as possible.

Invest in quality.

Long gone are the days of self-tanners with an off-putting scent. Not only do many of today's self-tanning products smell pleasant, "they've come a long way with the addition of skincare benefits." St. Tropez's Gradual Tan Plus Anti-Ageing Multi-Action Face, for example, boasts skin-fortifying agents like apricot oil, hyaluronic acid, and seaweed extract, and can even be applied to the fragile eye area.

Slow and steady wins the race.

For newbies, Evans recommends starting with gradual tanning products. In addition to the St. Tropez product mentioned above there's a less-expensive option (minus the anti-ageing) for the face and for the body. Applied daily, they'll build to a subtle, believable color. Once you've gotten comfortable with the routine, it's time to break out a self-tanner, which allows you to develop a deeper tan within hours of application.

Don't overdo it.

As evidenced by George Hamilton, there's a fine line between looking natural and looking downright ridiculous. A perfect tan, according to Evans, "slims you down, disguises cellulite and bruises, defines muscles, hides dark circles, and hides a multitude of sins (like hangovers and lack of sleep)." If in doubt, air on a lighter shade, as you can always build up to something deeper.

Katie Chang is a writer and shopkeeper based in Brooklyn. Follow her at @katieshewrote.

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