The guide to keeping your skin protected and bronze this summer.
As the summer begins, women have an important choice to make: Do I bravely bare my winter skin, translucent as it may be, and patiently wait for the sun? Or, do I fake it 'til I make it with tanning sprays and beds?
Whichever the decision may be--but particularly if you're a sun worshiper or you spend a lot of time outdoors--take this advice first and always start with a great sunscreen. Here are our picks for the season from some of the top names in the skin-protection industry.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 is a superlight sunscreen that packs a double-whammy punch: SPF 60 is paired with antioxidants that the company says protects your skin "down to the cellular level" while blocking both UVA & UVB rays. La Roche-Posay has long been touted as the mother of all sunscreens, so you can feel confident entrusting your snowy white legs to them for the season ($27.50, most national drug store chains, larocheposay.us).
From Peter Thomas Roth, an SPF 30 oil-free sunscreen mist is beyond convenient. Its "360-degree" spray goes on surprisingly evenly and the company's claim of "no-rub" rings true. Give your body the once-over and come away from the beach with nary a zigzag tan line ($28, Sephora, peterthomasroth.com).
Nat ure's Gate Aqua Block Sunscreen was developed for surfers and scuba divers, so you can trust that the SPF 50 formula will withstand a day at the beach or a marathon gardening session without breaking a sweat. The added ingredients of chamomile, shea butter and rosemary are soothing, not only to the skin, but to the senses as well ($8.99, natures-gate.com).
Now that you're protected from sunburn, which can increase the risk of skin cancer--not to mention the age-inducing effects of sun damage that are enough to send quivers down this Gen Y spine--the issue becomes maintaining a summer glow.
Ms. Estée Lauder herself, matriarch of the cosmetic empire, believed in the power of bronzed skin for a woman's self-confidence: "Glow makes you look alive when everyone else looks pale." Critics detract from the "faux glow," mostly due to old-school products that have long been associated with tacky-looking celebrities and beauty queens. But the right bronzer or self-tanner for your skin tone, with the added benefit of SPF in many of these newcomers, can make the transition from the pallor of spring to the splendor of summer easier, safer and less orange than ever.
Here are a few bronzing and self-tanning favorites for a confidence boost and starter tan.
Bobbi Brown All Over Bronzing Gel. This easy-to-apply, water-based gel works well on bare skin and, shockingly, over a fully made-up face. The company says it's an "all-over" product, and with the bonus of SPF, this may be a beach-bag essential ($28, nordstrom.com).
Benefit Coralista. The newest addition to Benefit's powder brighteners has coral and cool pink undertones that give skin a sunny boost without looking bubblegum pink. The wide, flat brush is a great shape for swiping just over cheekbones, and the fact that it fits inside the package wins extra points ($28, sephora.com).
Cargo. Available in light, medium and dark, this bronzer has a slight iridescence to it (think glow, not sparkle) that looked natural on both a spring-pale and just-back-from-the-beach tanned face ($25, sephora.com).
Darphin. This tinted self-tanner exceeded expectations in the categories of both fragrance and nonstreakiness. It goes on smoothly, and the colored formula makes it easy to blend in without missing a spot. No more "uh-oh" tanning regrets--use it on both face and body to great success ($50, beauty.com).
June Jacobs Radiant Glow. Its best quality is its staying power. This tan will last well into your vacation, lending much in beach body confidence long before the high season starts ($38, junejacobs.com).
Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess. "It made my pasty legs wedding-worthy in one use!" says one pleased user. The color starts to develop in as quickly as one hour, so you'll know right away if you're ready for the beach--or if you need another layer ($28.50, nordstrom.com).
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