By Liza Corsillo.
Is tanning apparently terrible for your skin? Yes. Does a healthy glow make every man alive look a little more handsome? Also yes. Finding a happy medium between those two truths is a difficult balancing act for most guys, but not for Michael Phelps apparently. The aquatic god showed up to the Gonzaga vs. North Carolina NCAA game in Phoenix with a deep orange-y-red-brown tan to rival John Boehner's. Or George Hamilton's. Or the color of a terra cotta planter from Home Depot. This might be an obvious statement but we'll say it anyway: this is a tan gone wrong.
See, a healthy tan should be just a few shades darker than your natural skin tone. Of course this depends on genetics—some men tan more easily and darker than others. But Michael Phelps' tan looks painful, mostly because we have a clear view of his original skin color around his eyes, in the same silhouette as a certain pair of aviator shades he's been known to wear (well that or some swimming goggles during a six-hour backstroke). There are plenty of ways to burn the shit out of your face this summer—golf for example. But the route Phelps took to this tan isn't important. What matters more is that we do our best keep it from happening again—to anyone.
The best way to get a tan, without risking your health or looking like you made a mistake, is to do it slowly. A simple solution is wearing sunscreen, we're sure you've heard that the sun is more powerful than you think. Vary the strength of your sunscreen for a lighter or darker tan, but don't skip it altogether. To avoid raccoon-like tan lines, wear a hat to block harmful rays and temper the contrast of cheek to under eye exposure. And whether you're paying for a spray tan or going on vacation, don't be greedy, tan in moderate increments, and remember to reapply your sunscreen after swimming.
This story originally appeared on GQ.
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