After returning from a sunny vacation, travelers may be met with compliments such as "Wow, nice tan. You look great!" A smooth, even tan makes everyone glow with confidence and it can be achieved relatively easily. But making the golden glow last can be more difficult, especially for those folks who work indoors under artificial fluorescent light. Not to worry -- as long as you have access to sunshine and a bottle of lotion handy, you can achieve a tan which will outlast the season and the workplace.
Choose a very sunny weekend, preferably at the beginning of summer, to begin your tanning regimen. The results you achieve on the first day will encourage you to keep tanning regularly.
Apply a thin layer of low SPF sunblock. Start tanning after 3 o'clock in the afternoon, as the UV rays you absorb will not be as damaging to your skin.
Break your sun exposure into hour-long blocks. If you have not been out in the sun for awhile, reduce these blocks to half-hour blocks. Take 15 to 20 minute breaks in between, using this time to apply moisturizer and drink water.
Wait at least four hours before taking a cool bath or shower to rinse the sunscreen and lotion off. Gently pat yourself dry. Don't wipe as it can be abrasive to recently tanned skin. Apply a few coats of moisturizer to your body.
Repeat the above steps every time you tan. It's preferable to complete two time blocks every 3 to 4 days, or every weekend. This schedule gives you enough time in the sun to achieve a long lasting tan without exhausting your skin.
Drink a lot of water as you tan. Hydrated skin doesn't burn as easily and it prevents your tan from drying up and peeling off.
Depending on your position to the sun, wear a pair of polarized, UV-blocking sunglasses to make the tanning experience more pleasant.
Artificial tanning products are a great way to tan unexposed areas, or to use all over if you don't have time to lay out.
No tan should be "permanent." A permanent tan implies irreversible damage to the skin which is not healthy nor desirable.
If you have any pre-existing skin conditions, consult your physician before doing any long-term tanning.
If you develop any new moles, freckles or rashes consult your physician.
Brandon Getty began writing professionally in 2008, with columns appearing in "Thrasher" magazine. He received a Bachelor of Arts in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lives in Stockton, Calif.