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Your Face Mask Tan Line Is Actually Easy To Fix — & Prevent

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Just like grabbing your keys and wallet when you're leaving the house, it’s now second nature to grab a face mask, too. And since wearing face coverings in public is our new normal, there are factors to take into consideration. This is especially true if you'll be outdoors this summer. Since the mask is taking up a lot of real estate on your face, it’s likely your summer tan won't be even. Similar to the dreaded sunglass tan, you’re bound to experience uneven lines. Luckily, there are some ways to even out a face mask tan line that don't compromise your safety.

It might seem tempting to sunbathe to even out your tan. However additional and unnecessary sun exposure isn't recommended by dermatologists. "Please don't try to even it out by giving your unaffected skin unprotected exposure to the sun," Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD, President and Co-Founder at Modern Dermatology of Connecticut, tells TZR. "Even a tan, versus a burn, is sun damage, so we don't want to get more of it even if it 'evens out' your tan lines."

And if your regular tanning spot is opening back up this summer, consider continuing to do your face at home. "If you're visiting a spray tan artist this summer, I would recommend not having the artist spray your face, so you can both be safe and wear protective masks for the time being," Alexandra DiMarchi, Global Tanning Expert at Tan-Luxe, tells TZR. "Instead, have the artist spray your body, and use a self-tanner at home on your face."

So instead of using UV rays to tan the rest of your face or relying on your spray tan girl, keep scrolling to find 10 safe tips that'll do the job without any harm.

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How To Even Out A Face Tan: Don't Forget Your SPF

"You need to wear an SPF of 30 or higher underneath masks," Dr. Shari Sperling, MD of Sperling Dermatology in New Jersey, tells TZR. "You should keep reapplying throughout the day especially if you’re out for a long period of time." She adds to be mindful that if you're sweating or working out, you need to apply sunscreen more often. The dermatologist says she loves the Neutrogena’s Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen. "It has a gentle formula so it’s great for those with sensitive skin."

Note that SPF might come off easier when it's underneath your mask. "It's important to diligently reapply as the friction of the mask as well as the sweat, moisture and oil it traps can cause SPF to wear off more quickly than it would otherwise," Robinson explains. "I recommend keeping SPF sticks and brushes handy for frequent touch-ups, especially along the border where the mask fits your face most tightly and is likely to rub SPF off."

How To Even Out A Face Tan: Opt For A Tinted Sunscreen

"When you're not wearing a mask, you could opt for a tinted sunscreen to help even out your skin tone," Dr. Sperling recommends. The dermatologist says The CotTZ Face Prime & Protect Tinted SPF 40 is her favorite. "It gives you a natural bronzed look and is gentle on the skin. Always be sure to wear SPF in order to prevent any discoloration or uneven tans."

How To Even Out A Face Tan: Calm The Redness

All you need to calm the redness from the sun is an at-home DIY mask. "Mix hot water and oatmeal to make a thick, paste like consistency," Robinson explains. "Then, add one teaspoon of honey and one tablespoon of plain yogurt. Lastly, mix and apply to clean skin; let sit for 15 mins and rinse off." Both honey and yogurt have anti-inflammatory properties that aid in soothing skin. Additionally, she says SkinCeuticals Redness Neutralizer will tame any redness.

How To Even Out A Face Tan: Exfoliate, But Don't Overdo It

If you're using self-tanner to even out your face tan, Robinson advises exfoliating the area prior. "This will ensure a smooth application and also help you extend the life of your glow by applying it to skin cells that aren't about to turnover." Instead of a harsh physical exfoliator, like an apricot scrub which can cause micro-tears in the skin leading to irritation, she recommends using a chemical exfoliant two times a week.

She recommends using Skin Better Science Exfoliating Peel Pads, formulated with glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids. These acids help to slough off dead skin cells, leaving you with smooth skin. The difference between the three is that glycolic and lactic acids are alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) which means they are water soluble, while salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) making it oil soluble and therefore goes deeper into the skin. "This will ensure a smooth application and also help you extend the life of your glow by applying it to skin cells that aren't about to turnover," the derm explains why exfoliating should be done prior to self-tanner.

And as masks are frequently worn, it's more important than ever to properly care for your skin. "Again, with more frequent mask wearing, we don't want to compromise the skin barrier and then put it under a mask where we'll encounter friction, trapped moisture, sweat and oil." To finish off, apply a barrier cream such as Aquaphor to areas where you want to avoid coverage, like the nostrils and eyebrows, she says.

How To Even Out A Face Tan: Moisturize First

"You may notice from wearing a face mask that the lower part of your face needs color, but maybe your forehead not so much," celebrity tan artist Kristyn Pradas, founder of Pradas Glow, tells TZR. "In this case, apply a thin layer of moisturizer all over and let it absorb. Then apply self tanner to areas that need color, and if it's a drastic difference, you may apply multiple layers." Pradas says if you opt for multiple layers, ensure that every layer you apply absorbs and is dry before applying another layer. And once you're done, she says you can go back and apply an entire layer of self-tanner to the rest of the face, neck, and chest to blend the entire area and make it appear more natural.

How To Even Out A Face Tan: Even It Out With A Brush

"I recommend using a self-tanner and applying it with a dense synthetic makeup brush," Pradas notes. "The size of the brush should be relevant to the size of the line you're trying to fill in. Remember the face will always be the first place the tan lightens because of the products we use, the rubbing from applying those products which is actually removing dead skin cells that had color, like self-tanner, as well as our makeup brushes and sponges."

How To Even Out A Face Tan: Properly Apply Self-Tanner

"With the face, less is more," Jules Von Help, founder of Isle Of Paradise, tells TZR. "Remember, you can always add more if you need to." If you're using drops, he says to mix two to four drops in with a scoop or your serum or moisturizer in your palms and massage it into the skin. For water, you'll want to spray the face as you normally would with a facial mist or toner. And for a mousse self-tanner, he says to mix a half a pump of the mousse with your moisturizer on a self-tan mitt of kabuki brush.

How To Even Out A Face Tan: Double Your Self-Tanner On The Bottom Half Of Your Face

Since the top half of your face is getting more sun, apply more self-tanner to the bottom half. "If you want the glow that a self-tan brings, then tan the upper half of your face with one layer of the water and double the amount of tan for the untanned area where your mask would sit," Von Help explains.

How To Even Out A Face Tan: Apply Self-Tanner At Night, Before Your Skincare Products

"For now, I would recommend applying self-tanner at night before going to bed, instead of in the mornings," DiMarchi explains. "This will allow for the tan to develop overnight, and be completely ready to go by the time you wake up. You won't have to worry about the mask messing up your application, or causing weird lines or streaks before the tan has completely developed."

And Robinson says for it to really work, self-tanner should be applied before your skincare routine. "It needs to be applied directly to your skin to work, not overtop of other ingredients. The active ingredient in most sunless tanning products is the color additive dihydroxyacetone, DHA. It reacts with dead cells in the skin's surface layer to temporarily darken the skin."

How To Even Out A Face Tan: Avoid The Self-Tanner From Transferring On To Your Mask

"Once you apply, allow the self-tan to develop, and then wash your face," Sophie Evans, St Tropez Skin Finishing Expert, tells TZR. She says by doing this, there will be zero transfer. "If you apply and need to wear your mask immediately, I would apply a little translucent setting powder on top." But to ensure there's no leftover product getting on your mask, she says your best bet is opting for a clear, water-based formula.

Experts:

Dr. Shari Sperling, MD of Sperling Dermatology in New Jersey

Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD of Modern Dermatology in Connecticut.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.