If you’re wondering how to improve your tanning abilities for your next holiday, tan accelerators may be just the product you’re looking for. Previously a cult skincare product known to insiders, in the past few years they’ve made their way firmly into the beauty mainstream.

Tan accelerators claim to enhance your skin’s tanning abilities and improve the depth and staying power of your tan – perfect for those who want to achieve a deeper and more even tan on their next holiday. But how do they do this? And do they actually work?

What do tan accelerators do?

Tan accelerators are designed to prepare your skin for sun exposure, enable you to tan evenly and more deeply than you usually would, and help your tan to last longer. Keeley Aydin, Elemis’ Elite Skincare Specialist says: “Tan accelerators give your skin the added resilience it needs. Your skin is tricked into thinking it’s been exposed to the sun, enabling you to tan more evenly, and helping areas that are normally harder to tan”.

Not to be used as a replacement for SPF, tan accelerators are an extra skincare step prior to sun exposure. However they could be considered an essential part of your holiday prep, as Keeley adds, they “cut down the time you need to be exposed to UV rays to get any kind of colour change”, meaning we can expose our skin less but still develop a gorgeous sun-kissed glow.

How do they work?

Tan accelerators can help you tan because they are infused with ingredients that stimulate your skin’s natural melanin production. Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin its colour, so the more melanin you produce, the darker your skin will be.

Keeley explains that one of the key ingredients in Elemis’ Tan Accelator is Tyrosine, which is “an amino acid naturally present in the body and used by skin cells to form melanin”. The presence of these ingredients encourage your body to increase its production of melanin, therefore increasing your potential to tan and the depth of colour you could achieve.

Tan accelerators are also ideal for skin exposed to the sun as they generally contain ingredients with intense moisturising properties. Elemis’ offering contains a blend of shea butter, macadamia nut oil, and jojoba oil, while Gatineau’s Tan Accelerating Lotion has vanilla, daffodil and sweet orange extracts – all soothing, hydrating ingredients that help your skin prepare for, and cope with, the dryness it may experience with consistent sunbathing. Plus, the more hydrated your skin is, the less it will shed and the longer your tan will stick around.

If you’d normally spray tan before a trip, some formulas also contain a small amount of fake tan – great for holiday prep if you’re skin is feeling a bit dull or sallow. The James Read Tan Accelerator adds a subtle tinted glow to skin after up to seven days of use, all the while prepping your skin for the sun with ingredients to boost melanin production.

What skin types are they best for?

Keeley advocates that accelerators are amazing for all skin types, as we can all “benefit from the added resilience” they offer our skin. Not only are they perfect for anyone who wants to improve upon their tan, they’re also excellent for very pale skin types, and sensitive skin types such as those prone to heat rashes.

What’s the best way to use a tan accelerator?

First of all, a tan accelerator is so easy to fit into your beauty regime – simply use in place of your usual body moisturiser. If you’re looking for a summer solution to sensitive skin, Keeley recommends using a tan accelerator “instead of a body cream or aftersun all summer – particularly in the UK when we never know what the weather is doing!”

She suggests ramping it up for occasions where you’ll be in more intense heat or putting in some dedicated sunbathing time: “If you have a holiday coming up, apply every day for two to three weeks beforehand.” To keep up the good work you’ve done in prepping your skin, she also recommends using it every evening as an aftersun.


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