Streak-Free Self-Tanning Tips

Streaky skin? We can help. Use our tips for a streak-free self tanning application

Banish the streaks with these self tanning tips

There is nothing worse than preparing for a beach vacation, cruise, or special event by applying a self tanning lotion, only to develop a streaky fake-looking tan that makes your skin look like a stick of fruit stripe gum rather than the natural sun-kissed glow you were aiming for. So what are some tips for applying a sunless tanner that will give you an all-over glow that more closely resembles a real tan?

Essential Exfoliation

The number one rule of streak-free self-tanning is to exfoliate your skin before applying your self-tanner. Experts recommend exfoliating about eight hours before applying your tanner for best results.

Self-tanners work by allowing dihydroxyacetone, a plant-derived chemical, to react with dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin, where it combines with keratin to produce dark pigments. By exfoliating the dead cells closest to the skin’s surface you will rid yourself of the cells that will fall off soonest and unevenly, allowing your self-tanning product to reach the fresher cells beneath. Not only does this ensure a smoother application, but it will help your artificial tan to last a few days longer.

If you don’t exfoliate prior to application, your tanning product may cling to the rougher patches of dead cells and work overtime, causing darker patches and a less even tan.

If your skin still has the remnants of your last self-tanning session, it’s especially important to exfoliate in order to remove the old tan before applying the new.

Save the Shave

Don’t shave your legs immediately before or after applying your self-tanner. If you shave shortly before applying your tanner, the tanning formula may pool inside the tiny hair follicles, resulting in uneven color. Shaving immediately after self-tanning will cause premature exfoliation and you will be removing the cells that are reacting with the tanner to give you your tan color. Experts recommend shaving the day before you plan to apply your self-tanner. Moisturizing should also be done the day before tanning. Moisturizing shortly before applying your sunless tanner could create a protective barrier that won’t allow proper penetration of your sunless tanner.

Don’t Spread Yourself too Thin

It’s okay to use a LOT of product when you are self-tanning. Many times people are afraid of overdoing their tan, so they apply their tanner lightly. Unfortunately, this won’t result in a lighter colored tan, only a streakier tan. If you want a lighter color, choose a self-tanner that offers a light tan.

One of the most common mistakes that people make when self-tanning at home, is to use too little of their tanning product. Self-tanner is quickly absorbed, meaning while you are spreading it around some of it is being absorbed quickly, and while you think you are still spreading it, you probably aren’t. Not using enough of your product will result in streaking. Apply your self tanner lavishly and let a thick layer be absorbed evenly into your skin.

The Knees Needs

Because of the rough texture of knees and elbows and ankles, sunless tanning products are absorbed in those areas much faster than they are on the smoother skin surfaces. Darker knees and elbows are tell-tale sign that your tan is not from the sun, but from a bottle. The solution is to wipe your knees, ankles and elbows with a dry cloth shortly after you finish your tanner application to remove the tanner before it can work overtime. You can also use a moisturizer on those areas first to protect them from over-absorption.

A Mitt’s a Must

Use a self tanning mitt rather than your bare hands to apply your sunless tanner. A mitt offers a wider area to spread the product so it goes on faster. Mitts are also made from fabrics that help your product to glide on in a much smoother fashion than your hands are capable of managing, which results in less streaking. Using a mitt also protects your hands and keeps your palms from receiving an unnatural tan. Some mitt applicators now come with an attachable wand to make it easier to reach your back with your tanning product.

Dare to Stay Bare

Don’t rush to put clothes on too soon after your self-tanning session. Pulling clothes on over your self-tanner before it’s completely dry will cause streaking. When your clothes rub against your skin, further streaks and splotches may result. Make sure your tanner has dried completely before you get dressed. Wearing loose clothing afterward is also helpful for preventing an uneven tan.

With these tips, you'll have glowing tan that looks natural, or at the very least, like it was done by a pro!

Resources — Good Houskeeping, Glamour, L'Oreal Paris, Cosmopolitan


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