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Spring – otherwise known as limbo. That middling time of the year when the warm, fuzzy feelings of New Year’s and Valentine’s Days have long since worn off and summer feels like donkey’s years away.

There’s nothing better than finding those perfect package holidays to give you something to look forward to. And one of the best things about holidays, after the good food, good drink and good sleep of course, is the good glow. A healthy tan is everyone’s favourite holiday souvenir – after all, what else can you bring back that costs nothing and is always, universally flattering? But how do you get gorgeously gold without risking your skin? By knowing a few tricks of the bathing beauty trade.

How to get a lovely golden tan safetly

Sun Kissed Tip 1: Avoid the sun when it’s at its hottest

Now remember, even if you want brown, you should be careful not to burn. Natives in hot countries tend to stay out of the sun at the times when the UV index is at its highest. That’s why Mediterranean countries are so famous for their siestas and leisurely lunches. It is recommended that you take precautionary measures when the UV index is rated at 3 or above. Depending on your destination, the UV index is usually highest between 12am and 2pm.

Check the local paper or the internet for the latest UV index information. The Met Office has an up to date UV index map of Europe available on its website, here.

Sun Kissed Tip 2: Add a bit of bronzer to your sun cream

The key to enjoying the sun safely is to protect your skin from burning – which is when the majority of cancerous free radicals are released, so always wear sun protection – at least SPF15.  Because the sun is thought to cause premature wrinkles, beauty advisors often recommend using a higher SPF protection on the face than you would on your body. By mixing your sun cream with a dark coloured bronzer (you can try up to two shades darker than your natural skin tone) you’ll be protected and perfectly glowing.

Little-known fact: Sun screen and sun block are two completely different products. Sun screen will create a barrier between your skin and the sun, designed to prevent your skin from burning, but not to hinder the tanning process altogether. The strength of this barrier is determined by the SPF number. Sun block, however, is designed to block the sun’s rays from your skin altogether.

Put stronger SPF sunscreen on your face to prevent UV damage - tip

Sun Kissed Tip 3: Protect yourself properly

A top tip from Andi C, one of our loyal Facebook fans, is to apply a generous amount of sunscreen and then wait for 15-20 minutes before getting dressed and going out. She tells us that this gives your skin time to fully absorb the sunscreen, thereby maximising its effectiveness. Who knew!

Sun Kissed Tip 4: After sun care

Instead of returning to roast, preserve your tan with after sun lotion. Since your gorgeous colour is held in the outer layer of your skin, you want to try and hold on to it as long as possible. This type of specially formulated moisturiser helps slow down the rate at which your skin sheds. Apply generously twice a day and keep exfoliation to a minimum.

After sun care is important too

Sun Kissed Tip 5: Holiday hair

Lastly, although this won’t help you maintain a coloured hair shade any longer, it will definitely keep your beach vibe alive. Ditch the flat iron and encourage the natural wave of your hair. And don’t bother spending on expensive products – all you need is a bit of salt water, a spray bottle, scrunch and voila! Beachy bed-head à la Gisele. Even if your strands are poker straight, styling with salt water will give you a windswept, day-at-the-beach coif that will carry your vacation look long into your return to the real world.

What do you think of our tips… do you think they’ll work for you? Tell us in the comments below!