If you haven’t already heard the steady stream of news about skin cancer these days, tanning is very damaging to your skin. In fact, it causes wrinkles, lax skin, brown spots (known as hyperpigmentation), skin cancer, and more. A nice tan might look great when you are in your twenties or thirties, but it causes irreversible damage and premature aging to your skin. The last thing anyone wants is premature aging. Not to mention the fact that tanning causes your risk of skin cancer to increase (which yes, can spread to your vital organs and become life threatening!). According to a new study, those who use indoor tanning machines face a twenty percent increased risk of skin cancer. If you started using tanning beds before you turn 35, your risk jumps to eighty seven percent! So don’t chance it! Follow these tips and tricks to get a healthy glow without the damage.

Use a bronzer. Don’t follow the hype. I try to always wear sunscreen, and even though I live in sunny California; I stay pretty fair-skinned year round to avoid the dangerous UV rays. However, sometimes, I do want a nice bronzed look, and so I apply bronzer achieve a nice, subtle tanned look. I try to avoid a bronzer that contains a lot of shimmer or glitter since the sun will intensify the glimmer. Another great bronzer to use is a temporary spray instead of the usual lotions ones (i.e. ModelCo Jet Set One Night Tan). These go on with a fine mist, dry quickly, and give you longer lasting color that washes of easily with soap and water!

Get a temporary spray tan. If you have an event or a big trip or weekend planned where you want to have a nice tan, then get a temporary spray tan. It gives you a darker color without damaging your skin! Make sure you exfoliate your skin before you get the tan, and also do it a couple days before the event or trip. Since more and more people are becoming aware of the health hazards that tanning causes, spray tanning has gotten a lot more convenient and affordable. They now even have mobile tanning services that come to you! With proper care, your spray tan can last up to 10 days, which gives you plenty of time to look great for that special occasion or vacation.

DIY self tanners. I tend to stay away from self tanners just because sometimes it’s hard to do it on your own and it can be difficult to reach certain areas. I have also had some bad experiences where I have turned a nice bright orange, and discolored my palms from applying self tanner. The great thing about self tanners is that they are temporary, and with lots of scrubbing and soap, you can make a self tanning disaster go away. Or save yourself the scrubbing because St. Tropez (a celebrity favorite brand for self-tanners) also carriers a self tanner remover ($18 at sephora.com). Which is why, before any important event, make sure you do it a couple of days earlier so that if it is a disaster, you can fix it before you have to make an appearance!

There are some great self tanners out there, and when I have to, I still do it on my own. An easy one to use, (recommended by “self-tan guru” Sammy from Jersey Shore) is by Bliss – A Tan for All Seasons ($36 at sephora.com). It has a “refreshing citrus scent” and “doesn’t streak.” Remember to exfoliate before you apply it so that you get a more even application. Also, remember to wear gloves or scrub and wash your hands immediately after if you don’t want orange palms! Another great alternative to self tanners is a gradual tan moisturizer. You put it on as a daily lotion, and it will gradually give your skin subtle color.

As you can see, there are plenty of safe ways to achieve a tanned look if that’s what you wish to go for. Don’t endanger your health and cause premature aging by purposely tanning and damaging your skin. Do you embrace your natural skin color or do you try to achieve a more tanned look? Share your thoughts below!