Want sexy skin? Get your carotenoids on


Looking for a sun-kissed glow in the middle of winter? Try heading to the salad bar instead of the tanning bed. Eating lots of vegetables gives our skin an attractive “golden” hue that beats out the look of a suntan, a new study from the University of Nottingham discovered.

Antioxidants called carotenoids give vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes their color, and researchers found that they also lend a pleasant glow to our skin. When participants were shown pictures of people tanned by the sun and others who ate lots of carotenoids, they thought the veggie eaters were more attractive than the tanners.

The researchers think a predilection for the carotenoid-hued skin could be a result of evolution — it makes sense to pick a partner who looks healthy.

“This is something we share with many other species,” said researcher Dr. David Perrett in a press release. “For example, the bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird is.” Though the study was conducted by showing participants Caucasian faces, researchers said similar results have been found in related studies that looked at different races.

The compound has other benefits besides attracting mates, too. Carotenoids give the immune system a boost and may even help slow the appearance of aging — the opposite of what too much time in the sun can do for your skin.

So, want that golden glow for yourself? Carotenoids are found in winter vegetables like kale, collard greens and sweet potatoes. Apricots, mangoes and tomatoes can also contribute to healthy looking skin. Or spice up your meal with cayenne or chili pepper, both of which contain carotenoids.

But even if you’re not a big fan of fruits and vegetables, you can still get that attractive tan (or carotenoid glow) without subjecting your skin to UV rays. Try one of these great “fake-bake” products for a golden look any time of year:

  • Nature’s Gate Sunless Tanner ($12, Natures-gate.com) This tanner works its magic with all-natural ingredients like antioxidan- rich green tea and raspberries to give skin an even glow. Plus, with its subtle citrus scent, it’s perfect for guys and gals.
  • Natural Very Emollient Sunless Tanner ($10.99, AlbaBotanica.com) Try this fake baker for a natural-looking glow without artificial colors or ingredients. Plus, the company never conducts animal testing.
  • Smart Shield Self Tanner Lotion with SPF 15 ($14.50, SmartShield.com) Get protection from the sun as well as a convincing fake tan with this lotion. Instead of using dyes, this tanner causes the body to create melanin and build a natural tan.
  • Lavera Self Tanner ($27.50, Laverna.com) A little pricey, but this one could be worth the splurge — it’s won awards from green websites and claims to be a customer favorite. This lotion uses organic macadamia nut, organic jojoba oil and organic sunflower oil to create a natural looking glow.
  • Chocolate Sun Absolute Sun Sunless Tanning Cream ($40, SpiritBeautyLounge.com) A real splurge, but packed with moisturizers like Shea Butter and powered by green tea. And it smells like chocolate!

Tell us: What do you use to keep your skin a golden hue?