How to keep your summer tan from fading, according to a skincare expert

After three years of dealing with the UK’s temperamental sunshine, going to a warmer country was high on the to-do list this year.

Swimming in the sea or a lake just doesn’t have the same effect when the chances of rain are high and the clouds are looming.

An obvious consequence of jetting off to tropical countries in high summer is a brand new tan, which, despite not necessarily being good for you, often makes us feel a thousand times better. 

While it’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as a healthy tan, because all tans are a result of sun damage whether you burn or not, simply existing in a hotter climate with a high UV index is likely to leave you slightly more bronzed than when you arrived (yes, even when you use factor 50+).

It goes without saying that many of us feel much more attractive with a summer glow, so how do we keep our tan from fading?

How long does the average tan last?

Founder and clinic director of skin health clinic London Professional Aesthetics, Elizabeth Rimmer, tells Metro.co.uk that the average tan – in its full glory – is said to last for just seven to 10 days. 

‘Tans fade simply because your skin cells are constantly renewing themselves,’ she says.

‘When we are younger our skin cells renew around every six weeks, as we get older this process slows. 

‘Dead skin cells are in a constant state of sloughing away and being replaced.’

If your skin is peeling, this is another story. 

‘Peeling tends to happen if we have allowed our skin to burn,’ says Elizabeth.

‘This is your body’s incredible ability to detect a problem and deal with it. 

‘The burnt skin represents a damaged skin cell and is sloughed away more rapidly because of the damage. 

‘If you are unfortunate enough to burn, don’t be tempted to help the skin on its way by pulling it off – allow it to peel itself naturally to avoid any further problems.’

How to make your tan last longer

While it isn’t advised to sit out in the sun all day in order to catch a tan due to the harmful effects it has on the skin, as Elizabeth says, there are ways to keep your tan for longer…

Plan before you tan

Prepping and exfoliating your skin before you go away can help your tan last longer.

‘Give your skin a few exfoliating treatments in the weeks leading up to your holiday using a grainy scrub,’ says Elizabeth. 

‘Pay special attention to elbows, knees and any areas of rough thickened skin.’

Elizabeth suggests using a high quality body moisturiser, ideally containing ingredients like retinol, glycolic and/or azelaic acid, after your bath or shower.

‘If you use a hair removal method, also do that before you head off into the sun as shaving and waxing will also take away some dead dry skin cells,’ she adds.

Use an SPF 30 (or higher)

While using a high SPF may seem counterintuitive, says Elizabeth, gradually tanning is the best way to keep your tan from fading. 

‘Tanning gradually is not only safer but will also reduce your likelihood of burning – after all, red skin has never been in,’ she says. 

She adds that it will also minimise peeling and therefore prolong the duration of your tan.

Hydrate inside and out

Staying hydrated is important for many reasons, particularly when it’s hot out.

‘Drinking plenty of water is a must for anyone who wants good looking, glowing skin as hydration will help slow down your skin cells’ natural exfoliation,’ explains Elizabeth. 

She also recommends moisturising at least once per day. 

‘Sun exposure, swimming, heat and alcohol will all work together to dehydrate your skin more than usual, so use a body moisturiser rich in ceramides,’ she adds.

Fake it

Finally, if you want all the tan and none of the damage, why not fake it?

‘It’s hard to deny a glowing tan on young skin looks ‘healthy’ but unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere you will know that the opposite is true,’ Elizabeth says.

‘Health issues aside, tanned skin ages in a big way: thickened, leathery, wrinkled, dehydrated are a few of the unappealing qualities of tanned skin beyond your late teens and early twenties. 

‘Honestly, if you want to achieve and maintain great looking skin into your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond, then faking it really is the way to go. 

‘Aside from all of that, if you fake it, you can look bronzed the entire year rather than a couple of weeks here or there.’

The best fake tan brands to look bronzed year-round

Skinny Tan Fake It Don’t Bake It Summer Tanning Kit

(Picture: Skinny Tan)

Buy now for £39.99 from Skinny Tan (recommended by Elizabeth)

Bondi Sands Dark Aero Self Tanning Foam

(Picture: Bondi Sands)

Buy for £11.35 from FeelUnique

Isle of Paradise Medium Self Tanning Water

(Picture: Isle of Paradise)

Buy now for £21.95 from Cult Beauty

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