Of course you know the sun's nasty rays can wreak havoc on your skin...but sometimes a girl's got a hot date - and no time (or no cash) to sprint to the nearest spray-tanning booth. Here's how to snag a to-die-for sunless summer glow that meets your, um, needs, no matter what romantic scenario you're planning. Plus: Read about the sunblocks that have bonus features to firm your body, fend off zits, and even sex up your hair.
Scenario #1: He'll Be Over in 10
Best bet:Bronzing powder
Here's why: A few swipes with a fluffy brush and you're sporting a Gisele-like glow - no muss, no fuss. See which bronzers Cosmo editors love. New York City makeup artist Melissa Silver recommends mixing the pigment with translucent powder to keep things subtle and applying golden shades to your makeup for an overall summery look. Just be sure to give your skin a swipe with a damp cloth if you plan to end up at his place so his sheets don't get an insta-tan, too. These products will fix any beauty flaw.
Scenario #2: Your First Date's Tomorrow Night
Best bet:At-home tanning lotion
Here's why: DIY lotion allows for a speedy tan, but, no matter how anal you are about the application, an extra dab may be necessary to fill in any patchy spots. Follow these simple steps to get a great sunless tan. Exfoliation is key before getting started, Silver says, and you'll need time for a shower to rinse off telltale tanner stink so he'll spend time obsessing over your bronzed bod - not your odd scent.
Scenario #3: The Hot Date's This Weekend
Best bet:Gradual tanning lotion
Here's why: Even tanning novices can't screw up this foolproof lotion that slowly builds fresh-off-the-beach color in a few days. "Gradual lotions are the most natural-looking and controllable," says Silver. Give yourself a few days to create and tweak the perfect color so that by Saturday, he'll think you spent the week hiking outdoors - instead of obsessing over the perfect stilettos to match that LBD. Find out which self-tanners celebs can't live without.
Scenario #4: Your Man's Out of Town
Best bet:Professional spray tan
Here's why:Spray tanning pros can evenly bronze places you might miss, but slobber from that deep kiss - not to mention rubbing up against him in the heat of the moment - can leave your skin all splotchy, says tanning expert Lorit Simon, co-founder of Sevin Nyne tanning mist. It's best to leave an eight-hour window to dry so you can welcome him home with a streak-free sun-kissed look. Read about the amazing effects of spray-tanning-even on African-American skin.
Scenario #5: Your Hubby's Home (and You Already Got Busy)
Best bet:Self-tanning spray
Here's why: The super-fine mist in many self-tanning sprays manages to cover everything, but it's tough to get those hard-to-reach places, Simon notes. Recruit your guy after a nooky session - when you know he's done for the night - for a quick squirt across your back. Just like the pro spray tans, the at-home version requires a helper and time to fully dry...if you can fend him off from Round Three.
Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.