Self Tanning Tips – What You Need to Know to Avoid Looking Fake

With only a few more weeks of summer, it’s now or never to get that tan.

If you like the bronze look, but worry about baking in the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays, then it’s time to get out the self-tanning lotion.

self tanners How do you find one that looks natural and lasts longer than a couple of days? Guest Contributor Aliceann Toole has these self-tanning tips.

Self-tanners have been around for years, and they’ve come a long way since the early orangey outcomes that passed for tans. Just about every major cosmetic company offers a fake-bake option, and most fashion and consumer reports websites weigh in on the top brands.

The top self-tanning products that consistently make the cut are St. Tropez Self-Tan Bronzing Mousse, Clarins Gelee, Jergens products, Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess, and Dior products. (I can vouch for good results from both the Estee Lauder and Jergens lines.)

If you haven’t tried a self-tanner before, it isn’t a process to rush through … you’ll probably need at least an hour from start to finish. Most experts – including make-up artists – recommend the following steps for best results:

Shower, exfoliate and shave first. To avoid blotches, you’ll need a nice smooth canvas to start the tanning process. Dry brush arms and legs before getting into the shower, shave first, and exfoliate again for a smooth result. You’ll find plenty of exfoliating products at the drug or department store, including lotions, special sponges, and loofah.

Be certain your skin is completely dry if you are tanning right after your shower; after toweling off, wave your hair dryer (on a low setting) along your legs, arms, and torso to be thoroughly dry.

Moisturize sparingly on knees, feet, elbows, and any areas of unusually dry skin (like an eczema patch). These areas soak up self-tanning products more quickly and can become many shades darker. You may want to skip these areas completely when you reapply tanner.

One of the biggest drawbacks of self-tanning is color build-up on your hands, nails, and cuticles. Some self-tanning products now come with disposable gloves, but if yours does not, pick up a package of gloves in the drug store to keep with your tanner.

You’re ready to tan. With so many available products, what do you choose? Experts say aerosols are easy to apply and dry quickly; mousse gives you good control and also dries quickly; lotions hydrate and the results last up to ten days vs. five or so for other formulas. Tinted products are much easier to work with since you can see where you have applied them. Gently massage your tanner of choice in a circular motion. A few additional tips and tricks:

  • Start at the bottom and work up. Work in sections … legs, torso, arms … and, if you are applying without gloves, wash hands thoroughly between each section.
  • Use enough product … streaks result from too little vs. Too much product.
  • Mix Tanner with a little moisturizer and apply it to your face … no particular facial product is necessary.
  • If you use bare hands to apply tanner, really scrub your palms and cuticles when you finish. Commercial tan removers are available, and squirting Windex on hands and rewashing is said to remove staining.
  • If you find streaks once your color has cured, a ‘magic eraser’ sponge can even them out. Commercial correctors are also available.
  • If you missed a spot, simply reapply to the area.
  • If gravity has its way with your skin (the hated ‘w’ word), flex your wrists and knees to get good coverage. Extend your neck as you smooth on the product, and pay special attention to your décolleté.
  • Wait to dress for at least 10 minutes. Wear loose clothing and avoid sweating for three hours.

Maintain that golden glow. Experts recommend reapplying your tanner every day until you reach your optimum color. Lightly exfoliate every 2-3 days and moisturize liberally for a smooth, buffed finish.

The color produced by a sunless tanning product won’t protect your skin from ultraviolet rays. It is not a base tan. If you spend time outdoors, sunscreen remains essential.

Tanning no-nos:

  • Skip the tanning beds. Tanning beds emit UVA rays that might increase the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
  • Skip sunless tanning pills, which typically contain the color additive canthaxanthin, are unsafe and possibly fatal.
  • While not a strict no-no, take precautions if you spray tan. Protect your eyes, mouth, and nose, and avoid inhaling the product.

Note: A great YouTube video by a Gen X fashionista walks you through every step of the self-tanning application process. If you are a self-tanning newbie, you’ll feel much more confident after watching, and it’s not a bad refresher for veteran fake-bakers … lots of good tips (like how to do your back without help).

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