Sun Worship Safer

Blame Barbiecorelatte makeup, heightened aging awareness, the new noughties, or a cocktail of summer trends encompassing all of the above: self-tanner is back, and it’s more popular than ever. Even better? The bronzing products have evolved to fit today’s world of beauty, providing a finish that’s more golden glow than tangerine.

Rather than the thick, odorous products you may have slathered on in eras past, 2023’s self-tanners are more elevated. Opt for hyper-concentrated droppers easily incorporated into existing skincare routines, shades that are buildable to achieve your desired effect, bendable mousses, and mess-free mists—the majority infused with skin-tending additives we come to expect from our beauty products (think Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and more).

The colors are better now, too. “In the ’90s when I was in high school, the options were light, medium, and dark, and they were all super orange and concentrated,” says makeup artist Christine Cherbonnier. “Now, there are really great shade ranges with more olive and red undertones which I prefer, especially on fair skin.” Contemporary tanner is also far more inclusive, with brands like Bondi Sands available in a range of enhancing hues for all skin tones, including a caramel shade featuring a yellow-golden color designed for deeper skin.

The head-spinning fever dream that has been that Barbie press tour came with its fair share of sun-kissed skin. In Margot Robbie’s case, this was achieved with a myriad of Chanel products, including Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation in BD41. In addition, makeup artist Patti Dubroff has been known to use Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Natural Face Drops, blending them with a preferred serum or moisturizer for added color on her own complexion and those of her clients.

For those looking to try the buzzy latte makeup trend popularized by Hailey Bieber, self-tanner can be your secret weapon. “A lot of the undertones of a faux tan are olive,” says makeup artist Tanielle Jai, the makeup artist that created the effortlessly burnished beauty look that set the viral makeup trend in motion. “Those caramel tones look most natural with a faux tan, too.”

But the return of self-tanner is about more than just a summer-ready aesthetic. Today, we’re all too aware of the dangers of skin cancer and the accelerated aging that can come with too much sun exposure, making a faux glow a preferable (and far safer) option. According to one estimate from the American Cancer Society, about 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the U.S. (that number accounts for about 3.3 million Americans, as some have more than one of the cell). Plus, according to dermatologists (and as evidenced by TikTok’s ‘Aged’ filter), too much sun without ample SPF can lead to photoaging, dark spots, textural changes, accelerated fine lines, and more.


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