Feature Archive

Fake the Perfect Tan With Sunless Tanning Lotion

Get the look of tan, sun-kissed skin without the risk of baking in the sun.

By Denise Mann
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

It's almost summer, and you long for tanned skin. Think you need to spend the summer lazing on the Italian Riviera to achieve that bronze goddess look? Think again!

Not only is that old-school type of sun worship harmful to your heath, it's unnecessary thanks to the many sunless tanning lotions now available.

According to NPD Group, the Port Washington, N.Y.-based global sales and marketing firm, Americans spent $46 million on self-tanning products in 2004. That figure is likely to go up with all the new options on the market.

Do-it-yourself sunless tanning lotions come as mousses, lotions, gels, foams, creams, sprays, mists, and towelettes. Salons also offer their own varieties, including the popular airbrush tan. Tans aren't the only thing people are spraying on this summer. Nylon stockings may be a thing of the past as spray-on stockings are now available.

"A good way of achieving a tan without increasing risk of skin cancer is sunless tanning, " says Ariel Ostad, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in New York City. "It's a very safe and quick way of getting tan without any harm."

The same cannot be said of a real suntan. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun, tanning beds, and sun lamps can all cause skin cancer. Five or more sunburns double your risk of developing skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.