Quite understandably I get a lot of questions about my tan.

In the last few years I’ve become something of a travel obsessive, chasing adventures all over the globe, and along with a tatty passport that comes with a bit of a tan!

I must admit to cracking out the baby oil in my teenage years in an effort to take a shortcut to golden town (or golden taaaan, if you will). Naturally I ended up bright red, in pain and more peely than appealing.

So allow me to spare you my pain and share my summer skin must haves.

  1. A great facial sunscreen. Contrary to popular belief, sunscreen won’t leave you pale and ghostly, if anything it will lead to a slower baked tan which will last longer. Most importantly you’ll avoid the health risks, slow the ageing process and won’t end up looking like a leather handbag.

My current favourites are two by a Korean skincare company called “Thank You Farmer”.

Water Sunscreen goes on smoothly in place of moisturiser, no sticky residue, no clogged pores.

Then there’s Sun Essence which has a very slight shimmer to it, giving you an all over glow. Top with makeup if you like, but personally I think you’d look lovely as is. Better at home, when you don’t really need factor 50 (but if you’d rather, it comes in 50 too.)

2. A great all over sunscreen. Don’t go thinking “I want to get brown! I’m going to use factor 6!” You’ll burn on the first day and spend the rest of the trip cowering under parasols and swimming in tshirts. I always start with a good 30 and then don’t go any lower than a 15. Pay particularly close attention to your neck, chest and shoulders as they’re out most of the time, even if you’re not laying out.

Some of my closest friends have much fairer skin than I do, so they never go below a 50. It’s really about working out what’s best for you. Just be sure to keep reapplying every time you swim.

If I’m out on a boat all day (and not wearing anything white, as it stains) I wear P20. It lasts all day and *touch wood* I’ve never burned while wearing it.

3. A great moisturiser. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being freshly showered after a day on the beach, conditioning your hair and smothering yourself in a good moisturiser.
It’ll make your tan last longer, too.

I’m currently obsessed with La Prarie’s Soufflé but it costs a pretty penny, this is also an excellent option.

4. Stay out of the sun when it’s over head. The idea that you need to sizzle like a sausage all day long to get a good tan is rubbish. Retire to the shade of a nice big parasol, take a book, have a snooze. Feel free to play around in the water, just don’t bake yourself all day. If you ask me, the best tans are caught after 4.

5. Of course the safest tan is a fake tan. It’s almost certainly cheaper, too!

Try a couple drops of this in your usual moisturiser, or go all out with a good scrub followed by a good layer of fake tan. In my experience, this is best done in twos. If you’re going on holiday with friends, have a pre-tan party. Good music, something nice to drink and you can get each other’s backs nice and even. Alternatively, I’m yet to meet a boyfriend who doesn’t love to give his lady a good thorough scrub down in the shower! Finish off with a swipe of tan and you’re good to go.

If you’re staying home be sure to exfoliate every 3 days (one of these is very handy), or you might get blotchy. If you’re on hols, it should wear off just about the same time as your real tan comes in, which is handy!

Just remember that “getting a tan” is only desirable as a construct of our society’s frankly bizzare approach to beauty. While we’re over here using “gradual tanners”, the other side of the world is using “gradual whiteners”.

It’s all in our heads, all very silly, and yet the knowledge of this has little to no impact on my love of a golden glow and a smattering of freckles!

Go figure.

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  • Kate

    I think a post on ‘tanning’ which doesn’t mention skin cancer is a tad irresponsible…

    • I’d like to think that most of us are smart, savvy adults who already know the connections or y’know, can use a mixture of common sense and Google.

      • Kate

        Maybe you speak for yourself, but the post implies there’s a way to tan and “avoid the health risks” which just isn’t possible. Any tan can increase your risk of skin cancer. Rosie seems to pride herself on trustworthy, sensible advice for readers of all kinds (I think the Anti-Diet is great, for instance) but promoting ‘healthy tanning’ is not only a myth, it’s potentially dangerous.

    • Jen

      I couldn’t agree with you more Kate. Even a few hours in the sun can have damaging effects. It’s actually quite surprising how many people are not well educated on how often to apply sunscreen and the effects of tanning indoors or out.

      • CHG

        There is more to it than “a few hours in the sun”. Other variables include your skin type and how close you are to the equator. I think ultimately, we can all find things that we do that aren’t exactly the best, but that we enjoy. I am a huge outdoor nut, so I would go mad staying inside all day and life wouldn’t be worth living! At least Rosie is promoting sun screen. I just got a UV protection rashguard this summer too. We all make our own choices. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0079162/

  • Your tan really is goals, so no wonder you get so many comments. I’m super pale, so it’s fake tan all the way for me x

    Tiffany Tales | Lifestyle & Beauty

  • I cannot imagine ever going outside without a sunscreen, but then again I am one of these crazy people who use it all year long so… 🙂

    • Rosie

      I’m sure it’ll pay off when you reach 50 and everyone thinks you’re 30!

  • What a refreshing post. Yes, tanning excessively can cause skin cancer but I have olive skin and do like to tan. These are some great products that help being safe more enjoyable!

  • zldn

    SPF is a must all year around and such a money saver in the long term – something like 90% of wrinkles are caused by sun damage! For an excellent after sun cream I’d recommend Aveeno lotion with oats, super light and feels very cooling too

    • Rosie

      Ooo excellent, I’ll check it out thank you!

  • Lizzy

    It says great that you have put loads of different sunscreen options on here! What I would add is that whilst SPF is important, ensuring that the sunscreen has UVB AND UVA protection. UVA should also be 5* rating (usually shown on the back of most bottles) which offers the most protection. E.g most Nivea options only have 4* but the likes of La Roche-Posay has 5*

    • Rosie

      Good tip, Lizzy!

  • I don’t really understand this tan obsession. Back when I lived in London, all the girls from my office would go to regular fake tan sessions and the first thing they check when you come from a holiday is how dark you are. They will be looking forward to their tan as the number one priority on holiday.

    If you’re really into tanning, I would highly recommend checking out some natural sun protection options. Almost all of these commercial brands are loaded with chemicals and harmful ingredients, they will probably get you good protection and colour, but also serious health issues in long run. There is no need to compromise on your health, there is plenty to choose from in natural cosmetics.

    I personally believe that no sun protection is going to protect you from premature aging. Some of the most stunning gracefully aging ladies I’ve seen have never done any binge-tanning sessions and you can really see the difference. Wear a hat and keep your face out of sun most of the time if you don’t want to look like a raisin in a few years time.

    On the same note – I live in Cyprus where we have 360 sunny days in the year, so if you’re looking to get a nice winter tan, this would be the place to be! =)

    Lucia ** http://www.thevivalavita.com

  • Peppermint Dolly

    Factor 50 right here – all day ‘erraday!! #HomeGrownIrish


    • Rosie

      Very sensible!

  • To be honest there is no such thing as a healthy tan. I’d never advise it.

    • Jen

      100% agree. I can’t believe it’s 2017 and people are still glorifying tans and freckles like this.

  • I use 50 until the bottle runs out, then I’ll switch to 30 😀 and I’m always looking for a shady spot… hmm wonder wonder why I never tan much…

  • I am the literal worst at applying SPF — not because I really want that tan (regardless of the health cost!), more that I never seem to go anywhere that gets me colour (thanks, European city breaks). That, and my face somehow remains bright with a moon glow whatever sun I throw at it. However, ageing (and cancer protection!) are so important, and at 30 I really need a good facial SPF at least. I’ve yet to find one that isn’t sticky and thick. Thank you so much for those recommendations; I will definitely check them out!

    And I have to say, a post that isn’t just “avoid sun put on SPF” is nice to read. It’s about balance, protection, and enjoying a bit of summer sun while we have it.

    Eire | Wolf & Stag

    • Rosie

      Thanks Eire, glad you enjoyed it!

  • I always wear factor 15 when I’m out in the sun and always try to protect my face with a big hat x

    Jenny | LuxeStyle

    • Rosie

      Smart AND stylish! 😉

  • Bec

    I’m naturally olive skinned but I still wear SPF 50 on my face every day! Skin cancer is Australia’s national cancer and we take sunscreen pretty seriously. I love that I don’t burn at all in Europe, the sun is far less harsh there.

  • ii

  • I wish I could tan, SPF 50 is the lowest I can go!


  • Mary Fremeau

    I love this! I loooooove getting a good tan going when I am off teaching for the summer! It’s so fun to come back to teaching in the fall well-rested and tan, and ready to take on a whole new set of kiddos!!

  • Gab

    Love your blog and I get what you’re trying to say, but your post here does imply that it is safe to build a tan slowly. That’s just not the case. I would encourage you to amend your post, and take a look at the Australian Government campaign targeting tanning. One of my family members has survived melanoma – please don’t risk this awful and deadly disease http://www.sunsmart.com.au/tools/videos/past-tv-campaigns/dark-side-of-tanning-past.html

  • Informative post! I think simply enjoying the sunshine is what naturally brings a good tan. Good point about the sunscreen not making you pale but actually helping!


  • I’m gelous ahahahah 🙂

    Miki xx


  • Jennifer

    I’ve always loved your blog, but I’m disappointed at the glorification of a ‘golden glow’ and the preposterous ‘tanning’ themed blog post. Tanning kills. Many thousands of people each year are killed by melanoma. The ONLY safe tanning is the kind that comes from a bottle, period.

    Individuals with darker skin are not safe just because they are not pale or fair skinned. Everyone is susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays. In fact, those ‘cute freckles’ that are glorified in glossy magazines and fashion lifestyle blogs are actually sun damage.

    This article is from a reputable medical source and details the truth, myths and dangers of tanning.

    Sunscreen is not a ‘once and done’ thing either. Multiple applications throughout the day are highly recommended to protect your skin, especially if you are sweating or swimming.

    It’s important to know that even occasional vacation tanning can have serious life long effects on our skin. I would plead with anyone reading this post to not glorify tanned skin or freckles and instead educate yourself and protect your skin. It’s the only skin you’ll ever have! Be safe in the sun.

  • Some of these comments are quite harsh. It’s not as if tans only come from basking in the sun – they’re also a result of being active outdoors, which is something that comes naturally along with warmer weather. I usually get a (horribly uneven) tan from my cycling commute to work, but of course I’m not going to wear long sleeves and pants when exercising in warm temperatures. Same with jogging, or swimming, or whatever outdoor activity you choose to do once the weather finally allows for it. I appreciated the recommendations, especially since every sunscreen I put on my face is way too oily for my sensitive skin!

  • I should try some 🙂
    Miki xx


  • Thanks for the rundown Rosie! I tend to also use P20, but recently i’ve discovered Ladival suncream as well – its really good if you have sensitive skin or prickly heat!
    Laura – http://www.welltravelledgirl.com

  • I especially love the last bit! It is so strange if you think about it!
    When I lived in Spain, I used to spend the whole day on the beach topping up my tan whilst my Chinese flatmate used skin-whitening cream and used an umbrella to protect herself from the sun/ getting a tan!!! :O




  • Hi Rosie! Thanks for this informative post and links to your favourite products, I have made the ‘I want to get a tan so I’m going to lie outside without any protection’ mistake on the first day of a holiday faaaaar too many times. Your tan is so lovely and glowy!


  • Great advice Rosie 🙂

  • Milli Midwood

    Officially requesting a post on your current fitness/workout regime. Your bod is to die forrrr!