This Subtle Self-Tanner Trick Will Help You Fake A Vacation In The Middle Of Winter

Your guide to no streaks.

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Anyone that’s ever tried spray tanning at home knows it requires practice and a certain level of skill (read: don’t do it on a whim unless you want to hide inside for a few days). And while you might finally feel confident applying tanner to your body, mastering your face application is half the battle. The process is similar, but there are a few things to keep in mind when learning how to use face self-tanner. Hint, hint: Retinol is a no-go during application.

Before brushing up on how to apply face self-tanner, note that it’s best not to do this prior to an event — or any social gathering, for that matter. According to Amanda Pichardo, a celebrity airbrush tan technician, it’s a great Sunday afternoon or weekday evening beauty routine as it’ll take a day to see the final results. “However, the developing process is very gradual and can be worn out in public without looking like you obviously have a spray tan,” she adds. “So if you don’t have time to do a whole face of foundation in the morning, you can wear this spray out throughout the day for an airbrushed look.” Plus, she says you can combine this product with a spray-on SPF as well.

And whether you want to use a face self-tanner in the morning or at night is up to you. “If you need a sun-kissed glow for the next day, use it at night — just be careful about smushing your face in your pillow while sleeping,” Dila Djokaj, founder of L.A. Sun Spray Tan, tells TZR.

And if you do use a face self-tanner in the evening, Alexandra DiMarchi, global spray tan ambassador for Tan-Luxe, recommends lightly brushing a translucent powder over your face before going to bed. “This will help lock in your skin care (and your tanning serums) while making sure your hands or arms don’t also accidentally get tan while you sleep.” Additionally, Djokaj says if you’re using it in the morning, you can apply tanning drops into your sunscreen.

Ahead, read on for the best step-by-step process for applying face self-tanner (with zero streaks), according to the pros.

Prep The Skin

Just like the rest of your body, the first step when using a face self-tanner is to lightly exfoliate. “Self-tanners sit on the top layer of your skin and as your skin naturally exfoliates, the tan goes with it, so you always want to start with a fresh pallet,” Djokaj says.

Next up, if you’re using a tanner made for the body, you’ll want to apply moisturizer prior. “It’s important to know that self-tan will develop darker on the face than the body due to the pH level being slightly higher, hence why we moisturize first to dilute the self-tan,” Sophie Evans, the ambassador for St. Tropez, tells TZR. However, the expert says if you’re using a face self-tanner, moisturizer isn’t required beforehand because they’ve been formulated perfectly for the face (however, it should be used after).

But, those with dry skin can benefit from using a moisturizer before. Evans adds, “If you have any darker pigmentation patches or have any severe dry patches moisturizer can be applied liberally to these areas only to prevent darkening.”

Apply All Over

Either using clean hands or a foundation brush, Evans says to apply the self-tanner to the face making sure every area is covered. “That means everywhere around the nose and nostrils, around the lip line, and also under and over the eyelid.” While applying, Evans suggests stopping as close to the hairline as possible, then blending onto the tips of the ears and fade down the neck to finish. Pro tip: Always have a Q-tip in reach to remove any product that gets on the eyebrows.

Face tanning sprays are a great option for those who want something fast and efficient. For this, Jules Von Hep, founder of Isle of Paradise, says, “At arm’s length hold the water from your face, take a deep breath, and close your eyes.” Think of the product as misting the face with any mist or toner. “Sweep our Shape and Glow Brush over jawline and decolletage and onto the ears to blend,” he adds.

Following Application

After you’re done spraying or buffing the tanner, you’ll want to wait three hours before washing off the product, according to Pichardo (although the timing will ultimately depend on the product you’re using, so make sure to read the instructions). “Apply your favorite face moisturizer and SPF after the rinse,” she adds. According to DiMarchi, it’s best to avoid using any oil-based moisturizers or foundation as they can make your tan fade quicker and less evenly.

Additionally, Von Hep notes, “Don’t use retinoids or AHAs at the same time as tan application as these are exfoliants, the tan needs to just be and develop.” Meaning, don’t apply your trusty retinol serum after tanning your face at night.

Below, these experts share their favorite face self-tanners for oily, dry, and acne-prone tan.

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Face Self-Tanner For Oily Skin

Face Self-Tanner For Dry Skin

Face Self-Tanner For Acne-Prone Skin