No longer the bright orange formulas of our youth, self-tanners are now easier to apply, longer lasting, and in many cases, provide anti-aging or other skincare benefits. What you do before and after you get your sunless glow on, though, is just as important as which product you use. Keep reading for our essential steps to a natural-looking and long-lasting tan.
Remove All Makeup, Deodorant, and Perfume
No matter what time of day you decide to apply your self-tanner, you'll want to start with a clean canvas. To avoid splotchiness, it's best to rinse off in the shower with cool water first. This will help remove any remaining films, oils, or lotions, and shrink pores so the tanner doesn't absorb into them, resulting in an uneven finish.
Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate
Yes, we wrote it three times because it's that important. Without a smooth surface, color can't properly developa dead giveaway that a tan is fake. Try a head-to-toe formula like Real Chemistry's Luminous 3-Minute Peel for body. It seriously only takes three minutes to remove dead skin. If you prefer to use a physical exfoliant, the TOCCA Esfoliante da Corpo - Nourishing Body Scrub will buff everything away with crushed olive granules. Don't forget to shave! It's another great way to remove dead skin cells and prep skin.
Moisturize Problem Areas
Your skin should be completely dry and residue-free before applying self-tanner, but areas like knees and elbows tend to be naturally dry and could make the color settle into lines. Give those trouble spots a bit of moisture love by massaging in a small amount of a fragrance-free lotion like DERMA E's Vitamin E Intensive Therapy Body Lotion.
Apply From the Bottom Up
Once youre ready to apply, it's best to start from the bottom (your feet and ankles) and work your way up to avoid any smudges or lines from bending over. Apply to your arms and hands last as they're doing all the heavy lifting. If you're worried about the palms of your hands turning orange, try applying with a mitt and always make sure you wash hands carefully, working soap in between your fingers and under your fingernails once youre done applying. Pro tip: Don't rub the formulas directly onto those thicker-skinned patches we mentioned earlier. Instead, massage or spray on bigger areas like your calves and arms first and then use what's left on your hands on your knees or elbows at the very end. Looking for a fast and quick formula? Vita Liberata's 10 Minute Tan only requires that you leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing. Over the next few hours your tan will gradually develop. Another easy favorite is COOLA's Sunless Tan Dry Oil Body Mist. The eco-certified dry oil mist can be sprayed on without any streaks and it includes nourishing argan oil, vitamin C, and hibiscus.
Don't Forget Your Face
One telltale sign that you didn't actually go to the beach to get your tan? Your face doesn't match the color of the rest of your body. Vita Liberata's formula is safe for both face and body, but you can also incorporate other products like COOLA's Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum directly into your skincare routine. It not only gives your complexion a sun-kissed radiance, it also provides anti-aging benefits. If you'd prefer a more gradual tan, Clarins' Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster can be mixed in with your moisturizer to create a subtle golden glow. Continue to use daily for a deeper color.
Moisturize and Protect
It's important to moisturize skin after your color is set since (inevitably) color fades and cracks. Massaging a dollop of the luxuriously-textured Whish Firming Body Cream into skin every day not only keeps it from getting dry, which shows streaks and creases more, but also stimulates blood flow and reduces inflammation thanks to an impressive blend of natural ingredients including green tea, shitake, shea butter, and more. Dont forget the SPF, particularly for your hands and face where color will fade fastest thanks to frequent washing. Supergoop!'s Forever Young Hand Cream with SPF 40 makes it easy to moisturize your hands and shield them from harmful rays. Clarins' UV PLUS Anti-Pollution Sunscreen Multi-Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 50 will protect your complexion from harmful UV/UVA damage and free radicals so your tan stays fresh for weeks to come.