tanned girl sitting in the sun image by Melissa Schalke from Fotolia.com

Summer doesn't last forever, so make your sun rays count by getting a deep, long-lasting tan. Create a dark enduring tan by understanding the tanning process. Your skin cells are constantly regenerating; UVA and UVB ray exposure darkens your skin pigmentation to protect against the sun. Developing a deep golden tan instead of blistering red patches requires some strategy. Keeping your prized suntan requires some preparation before you go out into the sunlight as well as post sun care.

Exfoliate and moisturize before hitting the beach. Dead skin cells cause your tan to fade, which reduces the time your coloring will remain. Start by exfoliating your skin using a loofah or beaded body wash; pay extra attention to naturally dry areas, such as your knees and elbows. Slather on thick moisturizer immediately after exfoliating to keep your skin from flaking off in dry patches two days after tanning. Fresh moist skin cells are prime sun sponges.

Wear sunscreen. You've probably known people who swear they tan using sunscreen and burn without it. This may sound counterintuitive, but understanding the tanning process makes sunblock an obvious ingredient. If your exposure to the sun is too intense and prolonged or if you're fair skinned, you can become sunburned instead of suntanned. Wearing sunblock lotion slows this process, giving your cells more time to regenerate in a darker shade rather than burning. If you are lighter-skinned, consider SPF 20 or higher.

Moisturize while you're in the sun. Applying sunblock at least twice a day, or more if you're fair skinned, keeps building layers of golden brown skin instead of painful blistery sunburns. Reapply moisturizer 15 minutes before reapplying sunblock to allow the moisturizer to properly penetrate your skin.

Moisturize at home. Whether you want to use after-sun products or plain aloe gel, post-sun moisture will help your skin stay nourished and prevent flaking and fading of your new golden tones.

Tip

Be realistic. Your skin won't go from white to chocolate brown after a single weekend at the beach. Building a deep tan takes weeks or more of penetrating and tanning through skin layers.

Warning

Avoid products claiming to "accelerate" or "enhance" the tanning properties of the sun. Such claims are scientifically untrue, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, and can actually significantly damage your skin, making you more susceptible to future burns and skin cancer.

About the Author

Christina Schnell

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.