How can a very pale person get a good tan?
May 26, 2006 3:03 AM   Subscribe

I want a quick, real tan but I'm pale...really pale. People need sun glasses when I take my shirt off to avoid the glare... (more paleness inside)

I'm going to be in a Persian Gulf country for 24 hours (long story) with not much to do except chill at the beach in the sun. I really want to come home with as much of a tan as possible. Being so pale though, I don't tan, I usually just burn. Generally the sunburn turns into a tan after a week or so but I'm hoping to maximise my 20 hours in the sun and get as tanned but not burned as possible. (And no, I don't plan to spend all 20 hours in the sun!) Are there any products, etc. that might be of assistance? Any other advice? Cheers!
posted by lazywhinerkid to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
you're not going to be able to tan in 24 hours PERIOD.

That's like saying you never exercise, but you've go 24 hours to train for a marathon, what are some good training techniques. Tanning is like exercising, a little every day. It's just the result of your body adjusting to its environment.
posted by zgott300 at 3:19 AM on May 26, 2006

Agreed with zgott. The best you can hope for is to burn and turn that into a tan. Sure, there are products out there that claim to enhance tans, but as far as I know, most of those are meant for people who already tan easily, and would likely end up in you being burnt to a crisp.
posted by antifuse at 3:41 AM on May 26, 2006

My friend says hitting the sunbeds a couple of times before going away helps, I don't know how true this is for anyone else. And if you're that pale you'll want to be spending the minimum amount of time on them per session.
posted by chrissyboy at 4:06 AM on May 26, 2006

I don't tan, I usually just burn
I'm in the same camp as you, and trust me, don't bother. You can't be what you're not. I don't tan either and in my 20's I realized that I should just stop trying and do my best to avoid skin cancer instead, because a tan last a few months and the repercussions from skin cancer could last much, much longer.

Wear a hat, wear sunscreen and maybe if you'll look a lot better when you're older.

If you really want to look tan, you could try a spray on.
posted by plinth at 4:19 AM on May 26, 2006

I would think that the sun in the Persian Gulf would be much more intense than you're used to in England, so would advise you to be extra-careful. As you probably know, wicked sunburns are absolutely miserable. SPF 30. Be careful!
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:18 AM on May 26, 2006

With zgott on this one. The UV index will most certainly be even higher in the Persian Gulf than in the US and you will burn easier than you ever have before. We're talking a matter of minutes, based on what you've already mentioned.

Your best bet is building up some kind of base before you go, either via a tanning salon or a few days outside. Without a base you have little hope for getting a tan.

Though, you could just go with plan B: get charred and endure until the redness fades to brown.
posted by dead_ at 5:22 AM on May 26, 2006

If you want to look tan on the cheap and real quick, try some of the sunless-tanning products that are out in the market today. Build up a nice fake tan and then protect yourself with SPF 30/+ to avoid sun damage.

I've used Neutragena's sunless tanning spray in the past, which worked pretty well. This year, I picked up a bottle of L'Oreal's Sublime Bronze Any Angle Self-tanning Spray and it really works. I used the product over a weekend, and to "maintain" my fake tan, I've been moistruizing with Jergen's Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer every day.

The key is to follow the instructions--to avoid any uneven tones, make sure you exfoliate to get rid of any patchy dry skin. Also, remember to wash your hands and your wrists, after application as the product tends to build up there from your having smoothed it over your skin. If you don't, you'll end up with unsightly dark orange lines from the folds of your skin. If this is unclear now, you'll know what I mean when you see it.

I find that these self-tanning products tend to have this weird smell to them--maybe it's the active ingredient? So I try to use them when I'm not out and about because I don't want people to think I'm the funny-smelling girl.
posted by phoenixc at 5:33 AM on May 26, 2006

I have an idea. Split your beach time into four even parts. In 24 hours you might have 12 hours of beach time. Buy four kinds of sunscreen, SPF 45,30,25, and 15. For the first three hours wear the SPF 45, then wash it off and put on the SPF 30 for the next three hours. Repeat this every three hours. The 45 will protect you while you get a little base, as your skin gets more used to the sun you reduce the SPF gradually. I would definitely start with the 45 and work down. I don't think you are going to get a tan in 12 hours, but you might get a little brown, and hopefully you won't burn.
posted by jefeweiss at 6:02 AM on May 26, 2006

I don't know if you've been to such southern latitudes before; if not, then you have no idea how strong that sun is, and you should probably plaster on factor 30+ sunscreen and stay out of the sun as much as possible. Get a big hat.
As a pale Brit, I was savagely burnt on my first trip to San Diego. Even though it was chilly, overcast and raining.
I seriously think that if you spend more than 20 minutes of your 24h sunbathing, you will regret it. If you must sunbathe, take regular breaks in the shade so you'll be able to feel how bad the burning is coming along.
posted by nowonmai at 7:35 AM on May 26, 2006

Even with factor 30 sunscreen, you'll likely get some tan. Yes, the sun is that strong.
/also milky white
posted by desuetude at 7:51 AM on May 26, 2006

definitely go for the 30 SPF. i'm pale and burn more than i tan. at beaches on the east coast i can use 15 SPF and tan a little, so i went with 15 SPF when i went to the Virgin Islands last year. i definitely burned, despite coating myself in sunscreen multiple times each day.
posted by geeky at 8:08 AM on May 26, 2006

One more thing.
If you do try to force a tan and get sun burnt. It will just blister and peel off anyway. The absolute best you can hope for is a slight, slight burn that will turn into a barely perceptible tan. Anything more and you'll look like a molting snake a week or so after you get back. I'd slather the 45 on. A little sun will still get through, and that's probably all your skin will be able to handle anyway.
posted by zgott300 at 8:18 AM on May 26, 2006

I second the spray-on advice. I've heard good things about Mystic Tan.
posted by thandi at 9:07 AM on May 26, 2006

Thanks for the advice all. To be clear, in no way do I expect to sit in the sun for a bit and then come home with a crazy bronze tan! I guess I was looking for the best way to maximize my 24 hours there, tan-wise. I think I'm gonna go the spf 30 route but I'll let you know how I fare!
posted by lazywhinerkid at 10:24 AM on May 26, 2006

Fuck the tan. Pale boys are hot.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:49 PM on May 26, 2006

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