Individuals with fair skin have a low melanin production, which increases their sensitivity to the sun's rays. This skin type is particularly prone to sunburn and often struggles to tan. However, it is not impossible for fair skin to achieve a slight tan. Here are all our tips.
How to tan when you have fair skin?
- Why do fair skins find it difficult to tan?
- Tip No. 1: Exfoliate your skin before exposing it to the sun
- Tip No. 2: Focus on nutrition
- Tip No. 3: Tanning Activator Treatments
- Tip No. 4: Why not consider a self-tanner?
- Tip No.5: Do not forget to protect yourself
Why do fair skins find it difficult to tan?
The concept of phototype is often used to characterise a person's skin tone, as well as their skin's ability to tan without burning in the sun. The most commonly used classification today is that of Fitzpatrick, distinguishing 6 phototypes, from the lightest to the darkest. Individuals with a phototype I and II particularly struggle to tan and regularly experience sunburn.
From a biological perspective, this can be explained by the prevalence of certain pigments such as melanin, haemoglobin, or carotenoids in individuals with darker skin. The quantity and form of melanin in the epidermis are particularly significant. Indeed, there are two types of melanin: eumelanin, which is quite dark, and pheomelanin, which is lighter. The former is more prevalent in individuals with a phototype III to VI and provides more protection from UV rays than pheomelanin. Therefore, when individuals with lighter skin expose themselves to the sun, the melanin synthesised is lighter, resulting in a more limited tan and protection.
Tip No. 1: Exfoliate your skin before exposing it to the sun.
In order to optimise the tanning process, it is recommended toexfoliate your skin a few days before sun exposure. This care helps to remove dead cells and stimulates cellular renewal. Smooth and uniform, the skin will tan more quickly and effectively, a boon for those with fair skin. Exfoliation should be done about once or twice a week. To facilitate tanning, it should be done about 3 days before sunbathing. An exfoliation carried out a day before exposure may risk weakening the skin and promoting sunburn. At Typology, we offer a wide range ofexfoliants, allowing you to unify and smooth your skin gently.
Tip No. 2: Focus on nutrition.
To give your skin a brown hue, it is not necessarily required to expose yourself to the sun's rays, or at least this exposure can be supplemented with a specific diet. Fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene such as carrots, peppers, tomatoes, mangoes or peaches are particularly recommended. Indeed, once ingested, beta-carotene is converted into retinol, the active form of vitamin A, at the level of the intestinal mucosa. The presence of retinol in the blood stimulates melanogenesis, which is the synthesis of melanin.
You can also turn to dietary supplements rich in beta-carotene. They have the advantage of containing a higher concentration of beta-carotene than traditional foods, which optimises tanning. The initial effects of these self-tanning capsules often appear after a month. It's also worth noting that the ideal duration for a course is generally three months.
Tip No. 3: Tanning Activator Treatments.
Generally applied two weeks before exposure, so-called tanning activators help to prepare the synthesis of melanin. These treatments are suitable for all skin tones, but are primarily aimed at fair skin that struggles to tan. They typically contain beta-carotenes or peptides to stimulate melanogenesis. Most tanning activators are also formulated with antioxidant molecules, such as vitamin E or polyphenols, to provide skin protection against the harmful action of free radicals, produced following UV exposure.
Tip No. 4: Why not consider a self-tanner?
The use ofself-tanners is becoming increasingly common, and for good reason, these treatments give the skin a tanned hue without having to expose oneself to UV rays. People with fair skin particularly benefit from this type of treatment, due to their difficulty in tanning in the sun without burning. Most self-tanners contain a plant-derived molecule, called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). Once applied to the skin, this compound induces a brownish complexion in 4 to 6 hours, by reacting with the amino acids in the horny layer of the epidermis through a Maillard reaction to form pigments, the melanoidins, which are responsible for the skin's colouration.
At Typology, we have developed a self-tanning serum for the face, providing a natural and gradual tan. It is concentrated at 10% in DHA and also contains carob pulp (INCI: Ceratonia Siliqua Seed Extract), a compound rich in inositol, a molecule that acts on melanogenesis. This serum can be applied alone or mixed with your day cream. If you have fair skin, however, be careful not to apply too much, as this could result in an unnatural appearance. We also offer a self-tanning gel for the body, concentrated at 6% in DHA and also containingaloe vera (INCI: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder), a hydrating and soothing molecule, and turmeric extract (INCI: Curcuma Longa Root Extract) for its antioxidant properties.
Tip No.5: Do not forget to protect yourself.
As previously mentioned, fair skin is highly sensitive to UV rays. Therefore, it is crucial for those with this skin type to protect themselves when exposed to the sun, or they risk developing a sunburnt, rather than tanned, complexion. The first step to take in this regard is the application of a broad-spectrum sunscreen. If you have fair skin, opt for an SPF 50 product, which offers greater protection than an SPF 30. The latter is more suitable for individuals with darker skin. Sunscreen should be applied approximately fifteen minutes before going outside and this action should be repeated every two hours in the event of prolonged exposure.
We also recommend that you opt for a gradual tan. To achieve this, initially expose yourself to the sun for short durations (less than thirty minutes) and then gradually increase the exposure time. This will help to limit the risk of sunburn and burns. However, if you feel any discomfort or heat, stop the ongoing exposure and apply an after-sun care product to hydrate the skin and prevent it from peeling. Finally, even when you want to tan, it is recommended to avoid sun exposure between 11am and 3pm, the time of day when UV rays are the most intense and the most dangerous.
SHARMA V. & al. Skin typing: Fitzpatrick grading and others. Clinics in Dermatology (2019).