I don't know who needs to hear this, but PUT ON YOUR SUNSCREEN. A temporary glow is not worth the long-term havoc UV rays wreak on your skin. Trust me, your future self will thank you. Instead, reach for a bottle of self-tanner. You'll be bronzed much quicker and, if you apply it right, the effect can last almost as long as a real tan (but without the risk of skin cancer).
Now, I'm sure as soon as I said "self-tanner" images of Jersey Shore cast members and You Know Who (I'm not gonna say it, but you know who I'm talking about) popped in your head. But don't worry – if you follow these self-tanner tips, your sunless tan will look 100% real. I promise.
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate
Pay extra attention to your knees, elbows, and ankles – the spots that tend to get the driest. Just make sure you skip any products that contain oil, which basically acts as a protectant and will keep your skin from absorbing the tanning formula.
Shave before you apply
If you're a person who shaves (you 100% don't have to be, just to be clear), make sure to do it before you start applying your faux tan. Running a razor down your legs dislodges dead skin, which means you'll literally shave off your fresh tint.
Dry skin only, please
The pros over at St. Tropez have an in-shower bronzer specifically made for wet skin (it's amazing, fwiw), but if you're using a regular formula, your skin needs to be 100% dry. Make sure to give it a few minutes post-shower before you start applying, in order to get an even application. Stalk your ex's new gf's Instagram, text your sister back, and by the time you're done, you'll be ready to apply. Just give it like, 10 or 15 minutes, kay?
Re-apply to fast-fade areas
Because of normal human stuff, like hand-washing and shoe-wearing, your hands and feet tend to fade waaaay faster than the rest of your body. Avoid mismatched skin tones by reapplying to faded areas every few days.
Werk 👏 that 👏 mitt 👏
You know the mitt that comes with your sunless tanning kit? That little baby is the secret to a tint that looks airbrushed. It works as a buffer to polish the product seamlessly into your skin. Oh, and it'll keep your hands from glowing orange afterward.
Stay moisturized (like, SUPER moisturized)
Yeah, you're going to hear me talk a lot about knees, ankles, and elbows. Before you even TOUCH that bottle of self-tanner, hit your dry spots (add your knuckles and toes to this list) with body lotion. Some pros even recommend using a kabuki brush to really work in the hydration.
If you don't, you're going to come out with dark blotches of dry skin in all the places I just mentioned. If you have dry skin normally, apply a light coating of moisturizer evenly all over your body.
After applying, use a tan-safe moisturizer
Yep, that exists. Some self-tan brands have moisturizers specifically formulated to prolong the life of your newly-found glow. Swipe this on regularly post-application to keep your skin supple, soft, and perfectly bronzed.
Don't forget your hands and feet
Just imagine: your whole body looks fresh-from-the-beach tan – except for your hands. Not cute. After you're done rubbing down the rest of your bod, blend a little leftover product onto the tops of your hands and feet. Use a cleansing wipe to clean off any extra tanner that gets on your palms, nails, or under your feet.
Go light on face application
Covering your entire face with too much product is a one-way ticket to Oompa Loompa Town. Spritz on a light facial bronzing spray, instead.
My favorite is St. Tropez's Bronzing Water Face Mist. I spritz on a little in the morning and by lunchtime, I look sun-kissed. Every time I use it, I get compliments – just sayin'.
Don't be stingy with the product
Using too little product causes streaks. It's really tough to use too much on your body, so feel free to apply more than you think. Shoot for about one tablespoon at a time and thoroughly blend in a circular motion to make the application as even as possible. To prevent streaks and orange palms, use a tanning mitt.
Fix mistakes with tan eraser
Ok, ok, ok – calm down. We can fix that botched tan. Just rub on this self-tan eraser and leave it for five minutes. Then, hop in the shower and scrub it off with a washcloth or loofah.
Let it dry completely
There's nothing worse than getting stripes of brown tanning lotion allll over your clothes. Always double the suggested drying time given in the directions and wear clothes you don't really care about. Make sure to stay away from furniture, too – your mom will NOT appreciate you rubbing your bronze all over her precious couch.
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