How to get a glow this spring without using a sunbed

As skin cancer doctors warn about the dangers of sunbeds, beauty experts suggest ways to look bronzed without UV exposure.

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As the weather warms up and we get out our summer clothes, some may be tempted to book themselves in for a few sunbed sessions to get a tan.

However, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) warns that sunbeds give off ultraviolet radiation (UV), and there is a proven link between UV and skin cancer.

The charity estimates there are around 16,700 cases of melanoma, a type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body, in the UK every year – and predictions suggest this could rise to 26,500 by 2038-2040.

“Almost nine out of 10 melanoma skin cancers in the UK could be prevented by staying safe in the sun and avoiding sunbeds,” warns Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at CRUK.

“There is no such thing as safe tanning. Some people are at more risk of skin cancer than others, including those with lighter skin tones, lots of freckles and moles, and a history of burning easily, but everyone who uses sunbeds increases their cancer risk.”

But if sunbed users heed the warnings and avoid using sunbeds, what are the alternative ways of achieving a skin glow that’s genuinely healthy?

Fake tan

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Go for affordable false tans, suggests GP Dr Nazreen Morley, medical director of the Dr Naz Aesthetics Clinic.

“We know how dangerous tanning beds are, so I’m always an advocate of false tanning over using tanning beds. Spray tans from a clinic or even home tanning products can give you a super looking glow without the risks.

“There are even some face creams and moisturisers with fake tan in for daily natural looking face glow. Home options are, of course, much more affordable than salon options. And these products will always look better on hydrated skin, so be sure to be taking care of your skin in terms of a skincare routine and superb hydration.”

Makeup expert Laura Kay says fake tan which comes in sprays, lotions, or even drops is a great way of bronzing the skin without exposing the skin to harmful UV rays.

“I understand the importance of finding the perfect self-tanner for the face and body that not only delivers a natural-looking tan but also considers skincare concerns,” she says, pointing out that important self-tan ingredients include hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, Vitamin E and SPF (to protect skin from harmful UV rays).

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“Products with these key ingredients or formulations will ensure your skin stays hydrated while developing a natural-looking tan that exudes a healthy glow,” she says. “In addition, there are also fragrance-free self-tan products on the market which are very popular with people who have sensitive skin types. Gentle oil-free formulas won’t clog pores, so that’s also recommended when shopping for a home tanning product.”


Bronzing at home is all very well, but how do you avoid the dreaded streaky look?

Kay says there are a number of ways to achieve an even, natural-looking tan. Firstly, prep your skin by exfoliating, focusing on rough of dry areas. Then moisturise lightly on spots like eyebrows, hairline and jawline to prevent uneven absorption, before applying a small amount of your chosen self-tan and gradually building up your desired level to prevent streaks.

She advises: “Ensure even blending across your face and neck using gentle circular motions, paying attention to areas like the hairline, ears and jawline for a seamless transition. Wash your hands immediately after application or use a makeup brush or blending brush to avoid staining.”

Make-up tricks

(Alamy Stock Photo)

But if you’re not a self-tan fan, there are still alternative ways to get a healthy glow without resorting to sunbeds.

Hayley Walker, a beauty expert at the JustMyLook online beauty retailer, says: “With warmer, brighter days approaching, more of us will aspire to achieve a radiant, healthy-looking glow, and this can be achieved at home in a budget-friendly way, using beauty products such as make-up.”

She recommends tinted moisturiser for an immediate glow which hydrates the skin and evens out the skin tone. “This is a lighter alternative to a full coverage foundation, but will still offer the same quality finish.

“A glow stick highlighter is another great way to achieve a glowing complexion and is a cost-efficient multi-purpose makeup product. An illuminating primer can also create a radiant finish as its luminescent particles will brighten your entire face, bringing a dewy glow to your look.”