How to Get a Gorgeous Tan Without Damaging Your Skin

Prom is a special occasion that many teens look forward to. You want to look your best and feel confident in your dress or suit. But what if you also want to have a tan? You might be tempted to hit the tanning salon or bake in the sun, but that can be very bad for your skin and your health.

In this article, we will tell you why you should avoid UV rays and how you can get a gorgeous tan without damaging your skin.

The Dangers of UV Rays

UV rays are the invisible radiation from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds. They can penetrate your skin and cause damage to your cells and DNA. This can lead to various problems, such as:

Skin cancer

UV rays are the main cause of skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the US. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF), more than 5.4 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, and one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. UV rays can also cause melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which kills one person every hour in the US. SCF says that one tanning bed session per year in high school or college boosts the risk of developing melanoma by 20 percent, and each additional session during the same year raises this risk almost another two percent. SCF also says that the risk of basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common form of skin cancer, soars to 73 percent after six or more indoor tanning sessions.

Skin aging

UV rays can also accelerate the aging process of your skin, leading to signs such as wrinkles, brown spots, sagging, and leathery texture. SCF estimates that 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun. UV rays can break down the collagen and elastin fibers that keep your skin firm and elastic, and can also cause oxidative stress and inflammation that damage your skin cells. These effects can start as early as your 20s and worsen over time.

Skin damage

UV rays can also cause other types of skin damage, such as sunburn, dryness, irritation, and allergic reactions. Sunburn is a sign of acute inflammation and injury to your skin, and can increase your risk of skin cancer and skin aging. Dryness and irritation can make your skin more prone to infections and diseases. Allergic reactions can occur when your skin becomes sensitized to certain substances or ingredients after exposure to UV rays.

As you can see, UV rays are not your friend when it comes to your skin and your health. There is no such thing as a safe tan, says Perry Robins, MD, Chairman of SCF. A tan is dangerous and comes with consequences.

The Benefits of Sunless Tanners

So, how can you get a tan without exposing yourself to UV rays? The answer is sunless tanners. Sunless tanners are products that contain a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA) that reacts with the amino acids in your skin to produce a brown pigment called melanoidin. This pigment mimics the natural color of a tan, but without the harmful effects of UV rays.

Sunless tanners have many benefits, such as:


Sunless tanners are safe to use on your skin, as long as you follow the instructions and precautions. They do not cause skin cancer, skin aging, or skin damage. They are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by SCF and other health organizations as a safe alternative to UV tanning.


Sunless tanners are easy to use and apply at home or at a salon. You can choose from different forms, such as lotions, sprays, mousses, wipes, and gels. You can also choose from different shades, from light to dark, depending on your preference and skin tone. You can control the intensity and duration of your tan by adjusting the amount and frequency of application.


Sunless tanners can give you a natural-looking and even tan, without streaks or orange tones. They can also enhance your skin tone and complexion, and hide imperfections such as blemishes, scars, and veins. They can make you look healthier, slimmer, and more attractive.

How to Use Sunless Tanners Properly

Sunless tanners can give you a beautiful tan for prom, but only if you use them properly. Here are some tips to help you get the best results from your sunless tanner:

Prep your skin

Before applying your sunless tanner, you need to prepare your skin by exfoliating and moisturizing. Exfoliating removes the dead skin cells and dirt that can interfere with the absorption and color of your sunless tanner. You can use a scrub or a loofah to gently exfoliate your skin, paying attention to areas such as elbows, knees, ankles, and feet. Moisturizing hydrates and smooths your skin, making it more receptive to your sunless tanner. You can use a lotion or a cream to moisturize your skin, avoiding oil-based products that can create a barrier on your skin. You should exfoliate and moisturize your skin at least 24 hours before applying your sunless tanner, and avoid shaving or waxing for at least 12 hours before.

Apply your sunless tanner

When applying your sunless tanner, you need to follow the package directions closely and use the right amount and technique. You can use a mitt, a sponge, or your hands to apply your sunless tanner, but make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after each application to avoid staining your palms and nails. You should start from your feet and work your way up, using circular motions and blending well. You should apply a thin and even layer of your sunless tanner, avoiding excess or uneven application that can cause streaks or blotches. You should also avoid applying your sunless tanner on areas such as eyebrows, hairline, lips, and eyes, or use a barrier cream to protect them. You should wait for your sunless tanner to dry completely before getting dressed or touching anything, and wear loose and dark clothing to avoid rubbing or staining.

Maintain your sunless tanner

After applying your sunless tanner, you need to maintain it by waiting and reapplying. You should wait for at least 6 hours before showering, sweating, or swimming, to allow your sunless tanner to develop fully and evenly. You should also avoid using soap, scrub, or exfoliant on your skin, as they can remove or fade your sunless tanner. You should reapply your sunless tanner every 2 to 3 days, or as needed, to maintain your desired shade and intensity. You should also moisturize your skin daily, to keep it hydrated and prolong your sunless tanner.

How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Sunless tanners can give you a tan, but they cannot protect your skin from the sun. Even if your sunless tanner contains sunscreen, it is not enough to shield your skin from the harmful UV rays. You need to use additional sun protection measures, such as:


You should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day, and reapply every 2 hours when outdoors. You should choose a sunscreen that is water-resistant and suitable for your skin type and activity. You should also use a lip balm with SPF to protect your lips.


You should wear clothing that covers your skin, such as long sleeves, pants, and hats. You should choose clothing that is made of tightly woven fabrics and has a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). You should also wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.


You should seek shade whenever possible, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is strongest. You should avoid direct sunlight and use umbrellas, canopies, or trees to create shade.


You should avoid tanning beds, sun lamps, and other artificial sources of UV rays, as they are just as harmful as the sun. You should also avoid peak sun hours, sunburns, and tanning pills, as they can increase your risk of skin cancer and skin aging.


A tan can make you look and feel good, but it can also damage your skin and your health. If you want to have a tan for prom, you should skip the UV rays and use a sunless tanner instead. Sunless tanners are safe, convenient, and effective, and can give you a beautiful tan without harming your skin. However, you need to use them properly and protect your skin from the sun, to ensure your skin stays healthy and happy. Follow our tips and enjoy your prom with a gorgeous tan and a radiant smile. 😊