How To Apply Self Tanner Correctly

New to self tanners? We can help. Here are some times on applying self tanner correctly

Use our tips for applying self tanner the right way

Props to you for choosing self-tanner over the tanning bed or baking out by the pool. You obviously value your skin and want it to look its best, and you've done your research to pick a safe self-tanner. If you have used self-tanner before, than you have probably had some bad experiences with it looking orange, staining your hands, or missing spots here and there. You may not have guessed it, but most of those mistakes were due to not preparing correctly. The steps you take the days prior to applying the self-tanner, will make or break your tan. Following these steps will ensure that you get the best results possible.

Step 1: Body Prep

Exfoliating your skin up to a week before you plan to apply the tanner will get your skin smooth and even to help the product apply evenly and make your tan last even longer. Use a loofah and a sugar scrub to scrub away the dead skin for at least 3 days before you apply. You will also want to be moisturizing on these days to ensure that your skin is hydrated and smooth.

Get your shaving and waxing done ahead of time. If you did either after you applied tanner, you would remove the tanner with your hair and skin cells. It is best to shave the day before you apply tanner so that tanner does not accumulate in the hair follicles.

Any other grooming or treatments are best taken care of before, as well. Manicures and pedicures for sure need to be done first since they usually involve lotions and scrubs.

Day-of Body Prep

Before you plan to apply the tanner, shower and exfoliate the skin, spending a little extra time in areas where your skin is the thickest, like on your elbows, knees and ankles. You must not apply any lotion, moisturizer or deodorant. This is why it is so important to hydrate the skin in the days prior. Tanner will sink into dry skin and create dark patches that are unnatural, however, you won’t be using any hydrating products the day of, so your skin needs that hydration ahead of time. In general, avoid anything oil-based, since it leaves behind residue that will cause streaks.

Make sure you towel off thoroughly after your shower and then wait about 10 minutes to make sure you are completely dry before applying tanner.

Now, you will need to apply a small amount of lotion on dry spots to help prevent them turning orange. Your hands, elbows, bottoms of your feet and perhaps even the sides of your nostrils, will need some moisture since they are generally dry areas. Be very thorough on your nail beds and toes. Just make sure that the lotion is being blended ONLY in these areas and not elsewhere, otherwise you will have streaks and an uneven tan.

Step 2: Choose the right product

Self-tanners come in a variety of consistencies like mousse, spray, or lotion. You also have to make sure you are getting the right shade for your skin. Choosing the right one for you may take some trial and error. If you have very fair skin, it is best to start with a light or medium formula, or select a product that darkens gradually so you can add more product to achieve the desired shade.

You may also consider purchasing a tanning mitt or wearing latex gloves to apply the product. This will help you achieve an even application and protect your hands from getting too much product on them and staining. If you don’t have gloves, you will need to wash your hands after applying to each section.

Step 3: Apply the product

Start from the bottom and work your way upwards, applying the product in sections (legs, arms, torso, etc.). Apply the tanner in circular motions and only use a quarter-size amount of product at a time. Starting at the ankles and moving upwards will prevent any creases or weird marks from bending over.

In order to evenly apply on areas that are hard to reach, turn your mitt around so that the application side is on the back of your hand. You can also get a spray or mist product to make those areas easier.

Use less product on the feet, ankles, knees, elbows, neck, face and hands. In fact, some recommend only using the product that is left on the mitt or on your hands.

When applying tanner on your face, blend it into the areas that tan naturally like your forehead, cheeks, and the bridge of your nose, blending outwards and into your hairline.

Clean up your messes

If you mess up, use a lemon to rub the area and then gently buff it with a damp towel. Use that same damp towel to buff out the areas that collect product, such as your feet, hands, knees and elbows.

Take a talc-free baby powder and using a makeup brush, gently powder areas that gather sweat and any creasing areas. This can include behind the knees, elbows, buttocks, and breasts.

Stay Dry

Make sure you let the tanner completely dry, then get dressed in loose-fitting clothing. Use a blow dryer on the cool setting to help speed up drying times. Avoid showering and sweating for at least 6-8 hours.

Step 4: Preserve your tan

When you shower, avoid any exfoliation like using your loofah. After your shower, dry of gently with a soft towel, patting the skin instead of wiping. Make sure you are applying moisturizer and lotion every day, or even a couple of times a day if you feel your skin drying out. Oil-based products may cause your tan to fade faster, so choose oil-free moisturizers if possible.

Resources — American Academy of Dermatology, Allure, Cosmopolitan