The Secrets to a Fool Proof Self Tan

Learning to apply self-tanner is as much about patience and perseverance as it is an art form.  It does not have to be an uphill battle, like learning how to paint the Mona Lisa.  It is achievable and a few tricks of the trade will have you looking as stunningly bronzed as ever.

Even if you seek out a professional for help, it is important to know what and what not to do.  Remember, regardless of your self-tanning fate, it is still better to get that fake bake than to bake in the sun or in a wretched tanning bed.

Step 1 – Exfoliate – You must get off all that dead skin before even attempting to point that bronzing bottle at your body.  If you do not slough, the tanner will blotch.  Pay particular attention to rough spots like knees, elbows, heels, and hands.   When choosing an exfoliant, be sure to choose one that is oil-free.  Oil prevents tanner from properly penetrating.

Step 2 – Prep Yourself – To avoid turning green, orange or any other color of the rainbow, it is extremely important that you prep your skin.  Remove deodorant – it can react to the self-tanner and turn your underarms green.  Put moisturizer on your eye brows – the tanner can turn them orange.  Finally, rub a thin layer of body lotion onto chronically dry areas such as elbows, hands, heels and hands to keep them from turning darker shades of brown.  All this will ensure that the tanner absorbs nicely without splotching or streaking.

Step 3 – Dress Accordingly – Opt for less is more.  Choose clothing that is not your Sunday best.  Keep in mind these clothing items may or most likely will be slathered in self tanner.  If at home, naked is best.  If at a professional tanning salon, consider wearing a thong that could get ruined or use the paper ones provided.  It’s best to be safe than sorry.

Step 4 – Get to Work – To avoid weird lines from bending over, it is best to work your way up starting with your lower half.  Be sure to hold the spray tan can at least eight inches away from you and spray in an up and down motion.  Spray from your thighs to calves to feet in slow, steady, even layers.  Go easy on typical problem areas – feet, knees and ankles – so they don’t end up darker than the rest of your body.

Next, move to the middle.  Spray the front and back of your torso.  Then do your arms, armpits, and wrists.  Be careful not to overdo the area around your armpits.  These should look a little lighter as they naturally would.  Go lightly on your wrists and hands so you don’t end up looking like you are wearing dark brown gloves.  Finally, face the music.  Mist your face lightly.  Instead of one fell swoop, mist your face in sections.

Step 5 – Fix Mistakes – You have about 20 minutes before the tanner fully absorbs.  So, check your work quickly so you can attend to mistakes.  If you find areas that are too dark or splotchy, fix your mistakes by blotting the dark areas with a make-up sponge.  Be sure not to wipe, as you can create streaks.

Step 6 – Let it Set – It takes about 8 hours for self-tanner to fully set.  Thus, for this period of time, be sure to wear loose, dark clothing, as it is possible for tanner to rub off on your clothes.  Avoid any clingy clothing such as a bra.  Avoid showering during this time period as well because it will impact the fate of your tan.  If you find that an area looks too dark, rub a slice of lemon over the area.  The acid will tone down the color.

Step 7 – Make it Last – Most self-tanning applications last about one to two weeks.  To get the maximum out of your self-tanning effort, avoid exfoliating and shave your legs infrequently, if possible.  Finally, moisturize your body from head to toe after every shower.

Written by: Kim Putens

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