Keep That Healthy Glow: 13 Tips for Prolonging Your Summer Tan


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After dedicating hours by the pool or enjoying weekends at the beach, sunbathers want to preserve that vibrant glow as long as possible. Summer may be winding down, but that doesn't mean a tan has to suffer the same fate. Here are some do's and don'ts, and some of the best budget-friendly products to help keep that tan going -- or fake it as it fades.

Related: 11 DIY Summer Skin Care Tips

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A long-lasting glow starts before you leave for vacation. If you're still looking forward to catching some rays, prime your skin first. Shower, shave, and exfoliate to remove dead cells on the top layer of your skin, which normally sheds about once every two weeks. You don't need an expensive body peel or exfoliating product. Try a long, hot shower and exfoliating gloves, or a homemade concoction with sugar (brown or coarse), oil (coconut or olive), and citrus juice (lemon, grapefruit, or orange).

shower head spraying water
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If you already have a tan, try to delay the skin's natural exfoliation process as long as possible. Hot showers feel great, but hot water dehydrates the skin, leading to faster peeling. Instead, take quick, cool showers. Avoid baths, hot tubs, or soaking in water for long periods of time.

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For a longer total-body glow, try a moisturizing body wash such as Olay Ultra Moisture With Shea Butter (starting at $5). Each bottle contains at least one jar of Olay moisturizer, which is intended to help nourish skin, delay natural exfoliation, and prolong a tan.

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Drink as much water as possible to keep your entire body (including your skin) hydrated. This can help maintain the glow and delay peeling and exfoliation. If you often forget to drink water throughout the day, download a water reminder app, or set repeating timers to remind yourself every hour or so.

Related: 20 Cheap Ways to Jazz Up Plain Water and Stay Hydrated This Summer

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Keeping skin moisturized throughout the day helps keep it bronzed. Use a moisture-locking lotion, body butter, shower oil, or facial moisturizer to seal in the golden color. Aloe vera gel is also a good bet for its hydrating properties and high water content (99 percent).

smiling pretty girl applied a tanning spray
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If you're looking for a moisturizing lotion, Jergens Natural Glow Tan Extender (starting at about $6) is specifically designed to preserve color. The hydrating, fade-fighting formula can prolong a tan up to seven days, according to the product description. Reviewers laud the moisturizing effect and smooth application.

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Choosing outfits strategically can give your tan a boost. Certain colors bring out the glow and show off a tan better than others. White always works, as do light pastel shades that contrast with darker skin. Also try coral, gold, and pink, which draw out the warmth of a rosy tan. If you use a self-tanner or spray tan, avoid orange, because it bolsters the orange undertones.

Related: 13 Hot Designer Swimsuit Styles for Less

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To punch up a fading tan, try a tinted lotion such as Malibu Tan Hemp Golden Glow Skin Firming Bronzing Moisturizer (starting at less than $6). Online reviews note the light, fruity scent and quick absorption. Users who have a hard time tanning naturally observed gradual bronzing over a week and report that the glow lasted through a few showers and baths.

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Extending a tan on your body might be more feasible than keeping it on your face, which is subject to more washes and possibly makeup remover. A shimmery bronzer adds subtle but noticeable color to complement and enhance a tan. CoverGirl Queen Collection Natural Hue Mineral Bronzer (starting at about $5) has received enthusiastic reviews from users.

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When your tan has finally faded, turn to a cheap and user-friendly self-tanner. Banana Boat Sunless Tanning Spray (starting at less than $7) is a light mist enriched with aloe vera and vitamin E. The time-release-color technology delivers a natural-looking tan that supposedly lasts up to seven days; reviewers enthuse about the staying power. They say the mist dries quickly and is easy to apply, even to your back, and a citrus scent helps mask the smell of the active ingredient DHA.

closeup of tanning gel blob
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Another spray-on tanning option is Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs (starting at about $10). This is water-resistant body makeup that lasts for a day, or until your next shower. Reviewers like the consistency of the spray (dispensed like hairspray) and how well it covers unsightly marks and veins on legs. Users also say it dries quickly and doesn't rub off, even on white sheets.

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Many products that promise an instant but temporary tan have unappealing orange undertones, but reviews of Sex Symbol Aerotan (starting at about $14) approvingly describe a natural, golden color with a faint glimmer. Users also report that the color sets easily and stays on for a day, or until the next shower.

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There are easy ways to make your face look tan with makeup, specifically bronzers, shimmery moisturizers, and contour tools. Online makeup tutorials highlight specific products and ways to apply them. For example, a tanning moisturizer and a few quick swipes of bronzer to areas of the face where the sun naturally hits (forehead, nose, and cheekbones) will build a natural-looking tan until you can get back to the beach. participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you choose to purchase a product through a link on our site. This helps support our work and does not influence editorial content.