Summer is officially over and so is spending a few hours in the sun each day. But, many of you still want to keep that healthy, sun-sparked tan of summer. If you’ve been thinking of visiting the nearest tanning booth, or buying an expensive cosmetic “tanner” or “bronzer”, I’d like to tell you a simple, natural way to keep that “day at the beach” glow.
Forget Fake Tans: Carotenoids Color Your Skin Naturally
As soon as the summer sun starts shining in late spring, you like to get outdoors more. You may spend a few hours a day in the sun doing gardening, playing tennis, riding a bike, or just walking the dog. And, it’s true, we all look, and feel, better after exercising or even just relaxing in the sun. It gives a healthy, bronzed look that washes away that pasty winter pall.
If you’re like me, when summer is officially over on September 21, you feel a little down that the carefree days of summer are gone for another year and the dark days of fall and winter are on their way. You’re likely not too thrilled about starting to get that dull, “cooped up” look on your face again. You might even be looking for the nearest tanning booth or cosmetic counter to see what’s available to recapture your summer glow.
Well, I’ve got some good (and very healthy) news for you. You don’t have to buy expensive cosmetics and not-so safe tanning booth sessions to achieve a healthy and attractive color to your skin. All you have to do is what nutritionists (and dermatologists!) have been recommending for a few decades now. That is, eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and make at least half of them carotenoids — red, orange, yellow produce.
You see, that healthy tan glow you get in the summer can be achieved 2 ways. One is by “melanization”, or darkening, of the skin through exposure to the sun. It’s what removes the flat, gray tone your skin gets after being indoors most of the winter.
Another way your skin achieves a healthy, “natural tan” is through “carotenization” coloring of the skin through exposure to high-carotenoid content vegetables and fruits. Carotenization of the skin naturally imparts a yellow-tan base color to your skin whereas melanization simply darkens your own skin but doesn’t really add color it.
Not only do you think you look better with some color but other people do too. They actually find you more attractive if your skin has that bronzed, “carotenized” look. New research cited in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology revealed that skin colored by carotenization rates higher in facial attractiveness and perceived healthiness than skin tanned by the melanization process. In their study, 86% of participants chose people with carotenoid-colored faces as appearing healthier and more attractive.
The carotenoid family of produce includes those with high alpha and beta-carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin levels. These are usually the dark red, orange, and yellow vegetables. But, good levels of carotenoids are also found in some green vegetables too. Good sources include:
Vegetables: Carrots, red, yellow and orange peppers, pumpkin, squash, spinach, kale, broccoli.
Fruits: Tomatoes, apricots, cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, watermelon, kumquats.
Other foods: Liver, eggs, cheese, cod liver oil (and fish) also contain good levels of beta carotene.
Supplements: If you find it hard to eat enough fruits and vegetables daily, you may want to supplement your diet with a powdered fruit/vegetable drink. These supplements contain a slew of carotenoid-based fruits and vegetables in powder form that you simply mix in water and drink.
So, if you want to create a healthy, sunny glow all year long, adding more carotenoid-type produce to your diet definitely helps. Carotenoids also fight aging skin, like brown spots and wrinkling. You may already use a Retinol-A containing skin product as part of your daily wrinkle and dark spot, “anti-aging” regimen. What you may not know, however, is that retinol is actually derived from Vitamin A which carotenoids produce in your body.
Not only do these carotenoids give you a healthy, bronzed glow but they also have other health-preserving benefits. These include keeping your vision healthy and even fighting cancer with their high antioxidant, phytonutrient content. They’re very low in sugar, and low glycemic load, which makes them excellent for keeping your weight at a healthy level as well.
An added bonus is that many of the carotenoids are also good sources of Vitamin C which can help you ward off colds and flu this fall and winter.
Which Natural Tan Color Is Best For You?
You should start to see a little more golden-bronze pigment in your skin after the first week of eating more carotenoids. But after 6 weeks, it should be more noticeable. Aim for 3-4 servings a day out of the 5 recommended. Here’s a little dermatology “color” guide to personalize your intake of carotenoids according to your natural skin color:
1. Fair-very pale skin: Eat more yellow-green vegetables, higher in lutein, to give a natural, healthy tan color to your very light skin. These include spinach, yellow peppers, corn, pink grapefruit, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, and apricots.
2. Medium to olive skin: Eat more of the deeper reds and orange vegetables that are higher in lycopene and beta-carotene to achieve a nice bronze glow on your darker skin. Make sure you at least steam cook your beets, tomatoes and dark red and orange peppers for 5 minutes to better release their lycopene content. Other choices include strawberries, red grapefruit, watermelon, eggs, liver, and cod.
So, even though summer is officially over, you don’t have to be a paleface all fall and winter. Adding more carotenoid produce to your daily diet can help you maintain your summer glow as well as staying healthier all winter.
Jay Brachfled, M.D.
Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables To Keep A Sunkissed Glow, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140827091958.htm