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WebMD Feature

Sunless Tanning: Baking Is Out, Faking Is In

Forget tanning. There's a better way to get that golden glow. Fake it. Bronzers and sunless tanners are safer and faster and can achieve results that are just as beautiful as the real deal.

Sunless tanning products generally fall into two categories: cosmetic bronzers that wash off like regular makeup and sunless tanners that actually stain the skin and fade as skin cells slough off.

Dermatologists now steer their patients toward these products if they want more color on their skin. "It's certainly much better than going out or going to a tanning salon and getting exposed to UV light," says dermatologist Robin Ashinoff, MD, of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

Cosmetic Bronzers and Other Wash-Off Products

These products come in several forms and add a bronzed glow to the face, legs, and body. You apply them and wash them off with soap and water later in the day, just as you would with any other makeup. Bronzers can spice up your skin for a special occasion or an evening out, or you can use them daily.

Christine Egashira, a Seattle-based makeup artist who travels the country with Sephora's elite Pro Beauty Team, wears bronzer daily. "There's not that much sun in the Northwest," she says. "I need that little 'oomph,' some type of color, some type of warmth to the skin."

Personally and professionally, she's seen the good and bad among various cosmetic bronzers.

Bronzing powders: These are the most forgiving, Egashira says. "You can perfectly place it and build on it, depending on where you want it, whether it's all over the face, down the nose, cheekbones, forehead, or chin." For the fair-skinned, Egashira recommends Fresh's Marbella Gold face bronzer; it creates a golden glow without brown or red undertones, she says. For deeper skin tones, she likes NARS Laguna bronzing powder. "It's great for that person who naturally has more of an olive undertone, just to add a little more luminosity and color to their face."

Bronzing gels: Compared to powders, gels are harder to apply, so the results can vary, Egashira says. They also may lead to that dreaded orange tone. Benefit's Talk to the Tan is a popular product, however, for those who prefer gels, she says.

Brush up on Beauty

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