The Right Way To Apply Self-Tanner

by Stephanie Montes

We love it when our skin looks sun-kissed, but baking on the beach without complete sun protection is so not a good idea. That’s where self-tanner comes in. But if applied incorrectly, you can wind up a streaky mess. Here’s how to do it the right way.


This Way To A Convincing Tan

First, Exfoliate

Scrub your entire body to slough off dead skin and soften dry patches. Tanning without exfoliating can leave you splotchy (the product won't absorb evenly).

Moisturize After, Not Before

Applying a moisturizer before self-tanning creates a barrier between the product and your skin. Your tan will be too light at best, and at worst, streaky. But keep that moisturizer handy, the more you apply it after you've tanned (and showered), the longer your tan will last.

Use A Tanning Mitt

A mitt is the key to getting well-blended, airbrushed-looking color, especially on areas that are hard to cover (like knees and ankles). Apply product to the mitt instead of directly on your skin.

Be Cautious With Your Face

When applying from the neck up, use a tanner meant for the face. It contains more antioxidants and less fragrance, which means less chance of breaking out. If you don't want to buy a second product, add a drop of your favorite self-tanner to your regular moisturizer and apply. Repeat for a deeper shade.

Keep Track Of Time

Most self-tanners develop within two to four hours. The longer you keep it on, the darker your tan will be. If this is your first time, try leaving it on for an hour or two to make sure you like the color. If you want it darker, leave it on longer next time.

Know How To Fix Blunders

Go into this knowing that mistakes happen. The important part is knowing how to fix them. Areas like the wrists and elbows are most likely to get crease marks. Mix baking soda and lemon juice into a paste and exfoliate the stains away.