The Tan Commandments: Realistic Rules for Sun Safety

1. Thou Shalt Not Give in to Your Base Instincts

If there’s one thing that feels as good as basking under a hot sun for a week or two, it’s walking around at home afterwards with a gorgeous glow that makes you look healthier, skinnier, and reminds you of what a gorgeous, relaxing time you had. 


We all know that frying yourself under the sun is bad for your skin. We also know that most people will probably do it to some extent anyway. Such is the sin-kissed power of a post-holiday glow. So with that in mind, here are some realistic tips - ones you can actually stick to - for balancing bronzed bodies with sun safety this summer!

“If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it”

2. Thou Shalt Wear Protection

I know I’ve just said that. I’m now saying it again. That's how important this is. Wear sunscreen.


Baz Luhrman said it best back in 1999 when he said - "If I could offer you only one tip from the future, sunscreen would be it". Even if you tan easily... even if you already have a lot of melanin in your skin... even if you’ve done the base tan thing that I just warned you not to do.


Just wear it. Or risk ending up like that old lady from Something About Mary

3. Thou Shalt Not Miss a Spot

Everyone’s done it at some point. In a hurry to get horizontal under the sun and begin a hard day’s lying around, you take the sun cream with you and apply it poolside.


This is a bad idea for two reasons; 


1. You may well be sweating it off before it’s fully absorbed, and

2. You are far more likely to miss parts of your body.


Apply sun cream in your room before you go out. Modesty isn’t an issue so you can be totally starkers, and free to get into whatever positions you need to, to ensure your suncream everywhere it needs to be. If you’ve ever dealt with angry red lines around the edges of your bikini line, or patches of badly burnt on your chest/back, you’ll know how important this advice is. Not a lesson you want to learn the hard way. 

Not a good look.

4. Thou Shalt Fake It

How to get the cosmetic benefits of a base tan, without any of the leather handbag effect on your skin? Fake it!


Fake it like you mean it.


Fake it like Meg Ryan in a New York Deli.


Whether you get a professional spray tan or apply it yourself, you'll arrive on the beach looking like an Amazonian goddess/god, and not one wrinkle will you have paid for the pleasure. Self-tan has come a long way since we were desperately trying to scrub off streaks of  Rimmel sun-shimmer in the 90s, and it's easy nowadays to find the perfecr shade and brand for you


I love TanOrganics tanning oil – it goes on easy, dries quick, doesn’t streak, doesn’t smell, lasts for ages, looks really natural, and comes in a 100ml bottle that’s just the right size to get past the liquid police at check-in.

Use these, in this order

5. Thou Shalt Pre-pale

If you are a fake tan fan already, it can be hard to go back to a pasty pallor – but giving your skin a break is the best way to get a really nice, even and long-lasting self-tan that will see you through as much of your holiday as possible.


Let all those scaly bits disappear from ankles, knees, cleavage and wrists, and use a wash-off tan every day during this time if you can’t handle the paleness. Oh, and exfoliate and moisturise like your life depends on it during the pale days too, so that you apply your pre-holiday tan to a clean and smooth blank canvas.


I love all of Soap and Glory’s exfoliating stuff (their exfoliating gloves most of all). In fact, whether you’re faking it or not, exfoliation and moisture is a good idea. Out with the old, in with the new and all that.

6. Thou Shalt Wear a Hat and Shades

...And not just because it gives you the chance to look like a superstar. I mean, a lot because of that, but also because good sunglasses and hats protect your most delicate skin from sun damage.


Hats and shades mean that your eyes, the skin around them, the bridge of your nose and cheekbones, your scalp, your forehead – all of that beautiful face of yours, in fact – will be kept safe from the sun rays. If you go for a big, full-brim hat you’ll be protecting the back of your neck and your shoulders too.


As well as looking like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Win win.


7. Thou Shalt Accept the Things You Cannot Change

I know I’ve brrn guilty of it; glancing jealously at the glistening, bronzed woman a few towels down, determined to somehow become Greek and beautiful, while I slather more oil on myself, trying to ignore the faint smell of cooking flesh rising from my freckled Irish stomach.


But if you’re very pale, with fair hair and freckles, and you tend to burn easily, I have some bad news for you… you’re very fair-skinned with red hair and freckles, and you burn easily.


You probably shouldn’t tan at all. I’m sorry. Someone had to say it. Use fake tan; it’s safe and it’s good stuff. If you must sit in the sun, use a high factor. And keep your translucent chin up; you might not be tanned now but your skin will be better than all the tanners when you’re older. Take that, Greek goddess.

8. Thou Shalt Try Your Very Best to Obey the Afternoon Rule

I have a feeling this one will fall on many deaf ears.


But really, the sun is at its hottest (and therefore its most damaging) between 10am and 4pm every day. “But that’s the whole day!” I hear you shout. Yeah I know.


And I know your tan-thirsty brain will be telling you that that’s probably the best time to change colour. Being a realist, I won’t tell you NOT to go into the sun between these hours, but do be very careful and give your poor skin a break for at least a few hours during that time.


Find some shade. Small doses really are best. ‘Fried bacon’ is not a good look on anyone.

Don't be the bacon on the beach

9. Thou Shalt Not Trust Make Up Alone

Yes I know your Estee Lauder Doublewear says SPF10 on the bottle. Mine does too. But make up can tend to crack on the skin, and it sweats off in hot weather – besides which, SPF 10 is wholly inadequate to protect your face from a hot Spanish or Maltese sun.


Yes, it makes you look pretty – just don’t trust it as sun protection. It’s great extra protection for everyday wear in winter, but if you’re somewhere hot, put on some proper sunscreen first. Once it’s absorbed, feel free to slap on the slap, but make sure you protect your skin before anything. This is your face, and unless you plan on handing a lot of money over to plastic surgeons, it’s the only one you get.

10. Though Shalt Slather...

…yourself with aftersun. A good aftersun will cool and moisturise your skin after a day in the sun, and it will help your tan last that bit longer. Also if you use a nice one you will smell and feel and look beautiful.


Aloe is a really popular ingredient and it works a treat, but my favourite thing to use is any lotion containing shea butter. It smells gorgeous, it goes on super-silky, and your skin will feel all buttery and delicious, as well as properly nourished. 

This. On your skin. Lots of it.

That’s it. Nothing too outrageous. I haven’t told you to sit in a dark room with factor 80 all over you and a sheet over your head – just be a bit sensible, and take care of yourself. 


- Dee Murray