Step 1: Choose the Right Formula
The key to finding the best self tanner for you depends on a few factors, including how much time youre willing to devote to the process. If you have a few weeks before your bods debut, consider going with a gradual formula like St. Tropez Gradual Tan Moisturizer, which goes on like a body lotion but builds to a bronzy hue over the course of repeated uses. If you need quicker results, try a mousse or lotion that intensifies over the course of a few hours, like Vita Liberata pHenomenal 23 Week Tan Mousse or St. Tropez Self Tan Express Advanced Bronzing Mousse. And if youre literally about to head out the door, try a fast-acting body bronzer like St. Tropez One Night Only Instant Glow Body Lotion.
Step 2: Prep Your Skin
Once youve chosen the right formula, its time to prep your skin. Because dry patches and unshaven areas can collect more formula and lead to streaky, uneven results, start by hopping in the shower and scrubbing down. A head-to-toe exfoliator like Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel for Body will rid your legs and arms of dead skin, leaving them ready for silky-smooth application. Pro tip: Skip the post-shower body lotion, which can prevent formulas from absorbing into the skin!
Step 3: Apply (Carefully!)
When it comes time for the main event, take the time to apply your sunless tanner slowly and evenly. For rough areas like knees, ankles, and elbows, apply a thinner layer of product than you would elsewhere (trust us, streaky knees look even weirder than regular knees). If your formula calls for it (or if youre extra paranoid about streaks), reach for a tanning mitt, which will provide you with an even application and avoid any weird product buildup between your fingers or on your palms.
Step 4: Chill (for Real)
We know its hard, but one of the most important steps in your self-tanning process is being patient while your chosen formula works its magic. Whether you need to sit still for a few minutes or a couple hours, refrain from getting dressed or running around. Our suggestion? Lay down (on a towel, dont forget to protect all fabrics!) and queue up your latest Netflix obsession.
Step 5: Maintain Your Glow
So youve conquered the sunless tannow how to make it last all summer long? In addition to keeping skin hydrated by taking mild showers followed by a daily (non-oil-based) moisturizer, youll want to re-apply your self-tanner on a regular schedule. (Depending on your formula of choice, every two weeks to a month should do.) Sound time-consuming? Use the summer months to try out different formulas, like St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion, which you can apply in the shower. Finally, and most importantly, dont forget to protect your skin with SPFunlike your fellow beachgoers, the sun can see right through your bottle bronze.
Maura M. Lynch
Burt's Bees addict. Watches way too much TV. Has never turned down a french fry.