No one over 50 wants a real tan anymore. We know it's the fast track to wrinkles, skin cancer and melanoma. But a fake tan? Sure! Sunless lotions and glow-making potions are our summer superpower! They enable us to turn dry, ashy, gray and tired skin glowy and to blur away cellulite, stretch marks, veins and discolorations. But a beach-bronzed look isn't the only way to score some extra radiance. Here are 11 ways to go sunny side up now.
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PHOTO BY: Target (3); CVS
1. Fake a summer-at-the-beach tan
The choices can be overwhelming, but mousse formulas like L'Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Water Mousse in medium ($15, target.com) or Bondi Sands Pure Self-Tanning Foam Water in light/medium or dark ($27, cvs.com) are hydrating, work well on dry, uneven or sun damaged mature skin, and last about a week. Use a tanning mitt like the Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Mitt ($6, target.com) to apply body tanner. For the best results, always apply full-strength self-tanner to skin that's clean, exfoliated and free of any moisturizer. “Tan” your face first by using fingers or a makeup sponge, and include your ears, neck and nape. Then do your body working from legs upward. In a hurry? Super-fast formulas like Tanologist Express Tan Self-Tan Mousse in light, medium or dark ($17, target.com) produce a light tan in one to two hours. Shower and stop the process, or wait to shower in the a.m. for a richer glow.
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PHOTO BY: Target (3)
2. Tan ‘lite’ with a daily formula
A hint of sunlit color is all you need to counteract fatigue or puffiness and to perk up skin that's sallow or blotchy. Choose a daily self-tanner like Jergens Natural Glow Face Moisturizer in fair/medium SPF 20 ($10, target.com), or mix tanning drops like St. Moriz Tan Boosting Facial Serum Tanning Drops ($19, target.com) or Tanologist Drops Sunless Tanning Treatment ($20, target.com) with any daily moisturizer, night cream or body lotion. Blend in the palm of your hand before applying — the more drops you use, the deeper the glow will be. Start with the lowest dose because you can always do more the next day or night. FYI: Any “tanner” designed for the face can also be used on the body.
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PHOTO BY: Csaba Toth/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
3. Try a salon spray tan
If you want your faux tan to look perfect for a special event like a summer wedding or a beach vacation, get a spray tan at a specialty salon for around $35. Having someone else do the work and pay attention to every possible nook and cranny is worth the splurge. Be sure to explain the degree of tan you want. You don't have to wear your birthday suit either. (Underwear is fine. Just know there will be a panty line.) Exfoliate and do any hair washing or blow-drying necessary the day before. Wear long, loose-fitting black clothes after your tan (especially if you sweat a lot) and wait six to eight hours before you shower. Moisturize well; it keeps the tan vibrant and your skin radiant.
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PHOTO BY: Sephora; Target (2)
4. Use a wash-off bronzing lotion
Not into self-tanner but want a quick fix? Tinted gels, sprays and creams that last one day or night can provide a beachy glow, too. Sweat- and transfer-resistant hybrids like Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Body Sauce Body Luminizing Tint ($48, sephora.com), Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Body Makeup Spray ($11, target.com) and Bondi Sands Glo Shimmer One Day Tan Cream ($14, target.com) bridge the gap between makeup and moisturizer and are a great alternative. You can use your hands, a makeup sponge or a Kabuki makeup brush to blend on. Instant glows are amazing to even out skin tones, like if you have only some sunny color waist up — especially if you wear pants or jeans most days — and then decide to go bare-legged in a dress. All wash off in the shower with soap and water.
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PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty (3)
5. Freshen your skin with liquid shimmer
A luminous body oil like Makeup Revolution Radiance Shimmer Oil in Gold, Bronze, Pink or Warm Bronze ($17, ulta.com) immediately hydrates dry or dull skin fast and leaves bare areas looking like polished marble. Just apply sparingly to your legs, shoulders, arms and collarbones, where skin is relatively firm. It's great on bare, untanned skin over self-tanner to enhance the glow. Try a liquid illuminator for the face, like Revlon SkinLights Face Glow Illuminator in Sunburst Bronze or Sunrise Luster ($12, ulta.com) or L'Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer in fair, light, medium or deep tints ($15, ulta.com). These work as a primer, highlighter or bronzer, or you can mix with your favorite foundation or tinted moisturizer to kick up the radiance.
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PHOTO BY: Target; Macy's; Sephora
6. Try a glowy sunscreen
Fake tan fan or not, we all still need the protection of a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen. Try one with a shimmery finish, like Coppertone Glow With Shimmer Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 ($9, target.com), StriVectin Full Screen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Illuminating ($36, macys.com) or Supergoop Glowscreen Sunscreen SPF 40+ ($36, sephora.com) to add a lustrous look while shielding your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays. FYI: The latter makes a perfect primer when used under makeup, as a greaseless sunscreen touch-up right over makeup during the day, or to give the tops of your hands, décolletage and neck a dewy glow.
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PHOTO BY: Sephora (2); Ulta Beauty
7. Use bronzer to warm up your face
Younger women use bronzer to contour their faces, but the benefit for us is in its ability to make us look healthy. At 50, look for a cream like the Saie Sun Melt Natural Cream Bronzer in light, medium, deep and dark tints ($28, sephora.com) or a moisturizing powder like the Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer ($11, ulta.com) and Huda Beauty GloWish Soft Radiance Bronzing Powder ($31, sephora.com) in a shade no more than one step up from your actual skin tone. Blend and buff the bronzer on spots the sun hits — tops of cheekbones, temples, the bridge of the nose and forehead — by using a large, full-bristled brush. Add some down the sides of the neck, too, to avoid a break. Without adding more color, keep buffing to soften the color and any edges. Bronzer looks best without a lot of other makeup, so don't overdo it.
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PHOTO BY: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic; Bruce Glikas/Getty Images; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
8. Spark your hair with highlights
Whether your hair is gray, blond, brunette or red, warm highlights can add a sun-kissed effect to your entire look. Two salon methods — balayage (highlights are hand-painted on) and ombré (darker color at the roots that melt to a brighter, lighter hue toward the ends) — require minimal maintenance so that you can get through the summer with one touch-up. Ask for low-contrast highlights for a subtle effect or chunky, dimensional highlights for more contrast and a statement look.
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PHOTO BY: Target (3)
9. Switch to shimmery eyes, glossy lips
Mattes and satins do a fine job to define and amplify our features, but shimmery eye shadows and glossy lips add a little life to your face. The key is not to go overboard, and stay away from glitter, extreme metallics and bright, shiny colors. Neutral-toned shadows with a low-dose twinkle, like Burt's Bees Color Nurture Cream Eye Shadow in Caramel Buttercream or Honey Caramel ($10, target.com) and e.l.f. Prism Eyeshadow Palette in Naked ($10, target.com), reflect the light and make eyes sparkle. Be sure to pair them with a dark liner and mascara, though — you still need those to emphasize eye shape. Try one of the new neutral glosses, too, like the NYX Professional Makeup Butter Lip Gloss in Sugar High or Spiked Toffee ($5, target.com) for a sophisticated switch from lipstick, with no gooey texture.
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PHOTO BY: Baggallini; DSW; 6pm (2)
10. Wear shoes and bags that shine
Silver and gold accessories add a gleam to your looks and summer clothes. Metallic sandals and bags are versatile and fun to wear during the workday or night and make perfect accents to neutral clothes. Try a pair of strappy espadrille sandals like the Nine West Glampin in Gold ($48, 6pm.com), cork-wedge slingbacks like the LifeStride Winona in Silver ($36, 6pm.com), a quilted water-resistant tote like the Baggallini Quilted Tote in Rose Metallic ($54, 6pm.com) or Ugg Krystal Tote in Silver Metallic ($65, dsw.com). Just be sure not to mix metals here — go with a silver bag with silver shoes or gold with gold. One final way to amp up your metallic sheen: Stack your wrists with bangles to showcase a beautiful manicure. Any color goes — pile it on!
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PHOTO BY: L.L. Bean; Banana Republic; Old Navy
11. Wear sun-warmed colors
Let your clothes reflect your sunny attitude. Although seasonal neutrals like white, beige and tan are always chic, bright hues have another value. Cheery, warm shades of coral, yellow, orange and red bounce light off your face, skin and hair for a fresh, vibrant look. Choose tops like the Old Navy Relaxed French Terry Top for Women in Yellow Stripe ($15, oldnavy.gap.com), L.L. Bean Women's Pima Cotton Tunic Three-Quarter Sleeves Splitneck in Shell Coral ($37, llbean.com) or Banana Republic Poplin Belted Top in Strawberry Delight ($80, bananarepublic.com) for a boost that will last after sundown.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.
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