Hopefully you have read our previous article Which Self Tanners Work The Best? A Review Of Self Tanners and have purchased a quality self tanner. Here are some tips on how to properly apply self tanners so you don't end up looking like an orange little miss sunshine (pictured at right) or blotchy like Lindsay Lohan (pictured below). But before actually applying sunless self tanning products, a little prep work is in order.
How To Properly Apply Self Tanners
How To Properly Apply Self Tanners - Prep Work
- Self tanning products should be placed on clean, dry skin. Make sure you shower or bathe before applying the self tanning product. It is essential that you use an exfoliating scrub, luffa sponge, body gloves, or other type of exfoliation tool to slough off any rough or dead skin. This is probably the single most important step in the process. Exfoliation helps the self tanner adhere to the skin better and to stay on longer without any interference from sweat, oil, or dirt. Be sure to pay close attention to the trouble areas for self tanning products, such as elbows, wrists, knees, and other places on your body where your skin creases or bends.
- Make certain that you rinse completely. Leave no soap residue on your body and completely dry your skin before applying any product. For best results, wait approximately 20 minutes after showering/bathing before applying the self tanning product.
How To Properly Apply Self Tanners - Application
Quick Tip: You may consider purchasing some inexpensive plastic gloves to wear when applying self tanning products. The
gloves aren’t a necessity, but they will prevent the tanning product from staining your hands during the application.
- Start at the bottom and work up. Begin with your feet and work up to the rest of the body. Place a small amount of the self tanning lotion or cream onto the gloved hands, or spray the tanning product directly on the body part, and then rub the tanning product gently but thoroughly into the skin. Be sure not to leave a greasy or sticky film on the skin. To do this, rub the tanner in completely until it is no longer visible.
- Continue this process, covering one section of the body at a time. Try to avoid covering large areas at once, since you will be more likely to miss a spot. It is best to just focus on one small section at a time, working around and then up the body. For areas of the body where there are natural creases and bends, such as the ankles, knees, wrists, etc., pay extra attention that you do not leave any excess product on these areas. You will want to use less tanning product on the creased areas of your body and to make absolutely certain that you rub the tanning product in completely; otherwise it will rub off and/or smear while waiting for it to dry.
- To apply the body self tanner to your face and hands, use a good quality makeup pad. Remember, you should apply a little less of the body tanning product to your face and hands since the skin on our bodies tends to be slightly darker than the skin on our face and hands when tanned. You may opt to use a facial self tanner on your face, neck, and hands instead of the body tanner. Again, do small sections of skin at a time and be sure to rub the product in completely until it is no longer visible. Make certain to apply the self tanner evenly to the face and neck. If you apply the product more heavily in one area than the other you may end up with your neck being paler than your face (or vice versa), and this is one faux pas you definitely want to avoid. Remember to get the area behind your ears; this is a self tan giveaway you do not want to advertise. The area around your neck and cleavage (i.e., the decolletage) is sometimes a little more difficult to get the tanner pigments to soak into, so it may require a little more product. Also, be careful around your hairline, eyebrows, and ears.
- If you opted not to wear gloves while applying the self tanner be sure to wash your hands in order to avoid the tell-tale signs of “orange palm.” Unless of course a little part of you wants to look like an umpa-lumpa.
- Now for the hard part. After completely applying the product to all areas of your body to be tanned, be careful not to touch anything because self tanning products will stain clothing and material. Since most self tanning products take anywhere from 20-45 minutes to dry and absorb completely into the skin, do not sit on or wear any clothing that can stain during this time. Also, avoid bending or moving too much while the product dries, otherwise the creases in the skin at the bends and folds may end up looking striped.
Just so you know:
It generally takes anywhere from 1-3 hours on average for most self tanning products to show their fullest color from application. With this in mind, don’t judge the color of the product until at least 3 hours has passed. If the color is too light, repeat the process above. Once you achieve your optimal color, you can usually maintain that color by reapplying the self tanning product about once a week. Keep in mind that every self tanning product is different as are all bodies, so the time between applications to maintain your tanned look may vary.
How To Properly Apply Self Tanners - More Tips
- When choosing a self tanner you may find it helpful to get a tinted formula. The tint allows you to see what areas you have covered and which areas you may have missed.
- Don’t skimp when applying self tanning products or you will end up with a speckled, oddly faded tan right away (see Lindsay Lohan above).
- Use the self tanner sparingly on drier areas of your body such as your heals and elbows, as these and other rough areas may absorb the tanner differently. Over do it and you may end up looking orange in those places.
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