The best way to get a tan if you are a redhead & fair-skinned

Most of us love being outside in the sunshine and many people consider a tan to be attractive, healthy-looking and desirable. But having red hair and fair skin puts you at high risk of sunburn, skin cancer and sun damaged skin if you try to get a tan outdoors. The healthiest way to achieve a tan is by staying out of the sun and using fake tan cream or getting a spray tan.


When you have type 1 skin – fair, freckles, red or fair hair, and blue or green eyes – you will rarely tan and often burn in the sun. When you have red hair you are three times more likely than dark-haired people to get skin cancer, according to a 2010 study by the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. Avoid sunbathing to get a tan and cover up when you are out in the sun. Tanning beds are also not suitable for redheads and people with fair skin.

Fake tan

Fake tan, or self tan, gives your skin a bronzed glow without stepping out in the sun. Fair-skinned people need to be extra-careful when applying fake tan as mistakes and discoloration show up more easily. Exfoliate 24 hours before applying fake tan, paying particular attention to dry areas like knees and feet, making sure to moisturise dry areas thoroughly after. Use plastic gloves to apply a thin layer of fake tan to your skin before you go to bed ensuring it is applied evenly. Make sure to remove excess tan from the foot and wrist areas and ensure the backs of the hands and the feet are evenly but lightly covered. Rinse off the fake tan in the morning and maintain your look by moisturising and exfoliating.

Gradual tanner

Many redheads find fake tans too strong and unnatural-looking. Gradual tanner is an alternative as it contain only a small amount of colorant and produces a hint of a tan on the first application. With repeated applications the tan builds up to a subtle, more natural-looking colour. If you have fair skin, prepare your skin before applying a gradual tanner as you would with a fake tan. Exfoliate before every use, moisturise then apply the tanner in long movements. Blend the product carefully near your feet and ankles.

Spray tan

A spray tan applied professionally cuts down the risk of streaks and missed areas, making it a good option for a redhead’s tan so long as the product used is developed for fair skins. Prepare for your spray tan by exfoliating and moisturising the day before your tan. On the day of the treatment do not apply moisturiser, perfume or deodorant. During the treatment you stand in a cubicle in underwear while a beautician sprays the skin with fake tan. The product takes around eight hours to develop and lasts up to a week.

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About the Author

Louise Carr has been writing and editing for consumer and business media since 2000. She covers health, travel, literature and current affairs, including for LIVESTRONG.COM and other online publications. Carr holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in American and English studies from Nottingham University, England.