A bit of a disclaimer here--I've long said goodbye to 'intentional' sunbathing.
Don't get me wrong, I love a great tan! It's flattering, I need less makeup (sometimes none at all), and it pretty much shows that I'd been somewhere and had a great time. But in my twenties, I realized that the sun-kissed look was actually sun-battered skin, damaging skin cells for good. Boo.
But there are still those of us who can't give it up (like I can't give up chocolate in spite of the havoc it wreaks on my system/weight/mood/you name it), so here are a few tips to get the most out of that tan and make it last as long as possible.
1. Prepare. Dry, flaky skin will shed quickly, leading to an uneven tan. Exfoliate your skin with a scrub to get rid of old skin cells at least a day before you hit the beach.
2. Protect. Use sunblock anyway. Even on cloudy days, those UV rays are going to get you. Be smart about this! :) A little SPF is better than none at all.
3. Pamper. Keep your skin from flaking off by making sure it's well-moisturized. Applying a body oil right after a shower (don't towel off; apply the oil and pat dry) and using a moisturizing cream or skin balm will help lock in the moisture (it will also soothe a sunburn!), and keep your tan in place.
Now go have fun in the sun!