Having tanned skin is considered beautiful in many parts of the world. Most people tan by exposing their skin to either natural sunlight or artificial sunlight from tanning beds or sunlamps. For people with red hair and fair skin, however, acquiring a tan is very difficult. Rather than tanning, most people with red hair and fair skin simply burn. Additionally, most doctors argue that tanning is harmful to the skin, especially for those who are naturally fair-skinned. The best way to get a tan if you have red hair and fair skin is through the use of sunless tanning products such as gradual tanners, self-tanners and spray tans.
Avoid exposure to natural or artificial sunlight.
Try a gradual tanner. Although with a gradual tanner you will not get a deep, dark tan it is often just enough color for a fair-skinned redhead. Gradual tanners are very easy to use and virtually foolproof - the small amount of pigment in most gradual tanners will not cause streaks or staining, so protective measures are unnecessary. Gradual tanners should be applied just like a regular moisturizer, to clean, slightly damp skin. Gradual tanners can be used everywhere moisturizers are used - don't neglect areas such as the tops of the feet and the neck - however, it is best to use a different product for the face to avoid irritating facial skin. It is best applied soon after showering. Gradual tanners should be applied at least once a day until the desired effect is achieved.
Consider a self-tanning product for a deeper tan. Self-tanners are different from gradual tanners in that they darken the skin immediately. However, self-tanners are a bit more difficult to use. Choose a product that is only one to two shades darker than your natural skin tone to avoid an artificial, orange color. Follow the directions carefully to avoid the self-tanner becoming splotchy or streaky. Exfoliate your skin prior to using the self-tanner to help it adhere better to the skin and go on more evenly. Using a tinted tanning product will allow you to see spots you have missed or spots where you have applied too much of the product. Apply the self-tanner in a circular motion and wear gloves to protect your cuticles and the palms of your hands from becoming a darker color than the rest of your body. Self-tanners should be used in the bathroom, or somewhere that can be easily cleaned as they will stain clothing and other items. Be sure to use the proper products - most self-tanners are made for the body and not for the delicate skin on the face.
Make an appointment to have a spray tan applied. Spray tans are applied with an airbrush by salon professionals and give a more even and darker tan than self-tanners. They also last longer and you will not have to worry about staining your clothes or hands, or missing hard to reach areas. Spray tans are more expensive than gradual tanners or self-tanners but if a beautiful golden tan is important to you, spray tans are the best and safest method.
Rebecca Grieser has been writing both fiction and nonfiction since she was in her teens and began writing professionally for eHow in 2009. She is currently completing her doctorate in English literature and holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts, both in English. She has also taught college-level writing courses for over five years.