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How to Apply Self-Tanner the Right Way

Sunless tanning products give you that beautiful bronze body you’ve always wanted without the risk of exposing your skin to harmful UV rays. Your options tend to include a variety of creams, gels, and lotions that range in shades from a light tan to the very dark.

These products are affordable than a trip to the tanning salon, but they can be difficult to apply when you’re not familiar with using them. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with uneven streaks or a strange color that doesn’t look natural and who wants that?


Begin by researching the different products to find the one you want to use. Some people prefer using creams, while others like the gels or lotions best. Read reviews to see what others have to say about the different types of self-tanners and brands. If you’re looking for a dark and rich tan that is long-lasting (we’re talking at least 2 weeks), then you may want to reach for a self-tanner like the St. Moriz tanning mousse that is specifically formulated to give you a semi-permanent tan. Afraid of commitment? A shorter-lasting tan like’s MadFlower’s all-natural Body Bronzer is the answer. Once you choose a brand and type you love, read the directions, and follow them to the T.


Check for Sensitivity

Any time you use a new product, you run the risk of having an allergic reaction, so the first thing you want to do is test a small part of your skin. It’s wise to invest in higher quality products, which have less odor because they use better and less harsh ingredients, especially if you have sensitive skin.


Prep Your Skin

Prepare your skin before application, and you’ll get a smoother, more even tan. Use a moisturizer for two or three days before tanning to soften up your skin, but not immediately before applying the product.

When you’re ready to apply the tanning product, shower and exfoliate to wash away the dead skin cells, this makes it easier to apply the product so you won’t end up with patches, blotches or flaking skin (yikes).

Invest in a body wash designed for use with sunless tanning products to reduce the risk of your tan becoming streaked or turning orange. Using an alkaline soap will turn your skin orange when the product dries because the tanning products react badly with the substance.


Time to Tan

One of the biggest mistakes most people make when applying these products is putting them on with their bare hands. Not only will this turn your palms orange, but it usually leaves nasty streaks.

Instead, use a sponge or mitt, and you’ll get better results. Depending on the brand you purchase, your self-tanner may already come with its own mitt or sponge. Apply two or three lines of even amounts of the lotion, gel, or cream along the length of the sponge or mitt.

Using a smooth, steady motion, begin at the ankle and work up your leg just past the knee. Cover your leg using the same amount of pressure with each stroke. Repeat this process, starting above your knees and going up to your thigh. Continue over the rest of the body that you want tanned.

When you’re finished, check every area to make sure your skin is completely covered. It helps to use a clean sponge or mitt and go over all of the areas again just to make sure it’s applied smoothly. If there are any missed areas, fill them in and smooth out any excess cream, lotion, or gel you see.

If you have someone available to help you check and be sure you didn’t miss any spots, that’s a bonus. When you learn to apply the sunless tanner correctly, you’ll have that perfect tan safely and whenever you choose.