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Beauty Myth Busters: 8 Self-Tanner Myths You Should Stop Believing Now

Get the truth about safe tanning.
May 16, 2022

If you’re craving a sun-kissed glow, using a self-tanner is the easiest — and safest  — option (since spending prolonged periods of time in the sun without SPF can lead to serious skin damage). Still, when it comes to self-tanner, you might have some preconceived notions about the product — maybe you think it’ll make you look orange or that your tan will come out streaky. 

Those things aren’t necessarily true, though. There are a lot of self-tanner myths out there, just like the aforementioned ones, and we’re debunking them today. Want a golden glow? Get the low-down on eight common self-tanner myths you need to stop believing now.

Myth 1. Self-Tanner Formulas Are One-Size Fits All

It’s a common misconception that all self-tanners are the same when they’re really not. You have to make it a point to find one that best suits your needs. Self-tanners come in an array of forms, such as foams, serums, self-tanning mists, lotions, self-tanning towelettes, and mousse formulas, just to name a few. Put in the time by doing some research to find a formula that you feel most comfortable using and that fits your situation. Need a place to start? Here are a few of our favorites.

If you prefer a transfer-proof formula, try a self-tanning mousse, like the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse.

If you want to tan your face and neck, try a self-tanning mist, like the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Water Mist.

If you like gradual self-tanners, try a self-tanning serum, like the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops.

If you love spray tans, try a self-tanning spray, like the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Mist.

If you need to tan on the go, try self-tanning towelettes, like the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Towelettes for Body.

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Myth 2. Exfoliating Beforehand Can Ruin Your Tan

If you think you shouldn’t exfoliate before applying self-tanner, think again! Exfoliating is one of the steps you should take to prep your skin before using self-tanner, since it can help you get a more even application when the time comes to apply color. 

When you’re exfoliating as part of your self-tanner prep, focus on areas like your knees and elbows since they tend to be drier and may absorb color quicker. That’s why you may have noticed those spots getting darker than the rest of your body when you use self-tanner without exfoliating first.

Myth 3. Moisturizing Beforehand Can Create Streaks

Nope, not true. After exfoliating, the next step in your self-tanner prep routine should be moisturizing your skin. Moisturizing can actually help you get more even coverage and make the application process go smoother. Remember to apply moisturizer to areas like your ankles, knees, and wrists, which, again, can soak up more color since they tend to be on the drier side.

Myth 4. There’s No Right Way to Apply It

Wrong again! If you want a believable-looking tan and an even finish, make sure to follow the directions that go with your specific self-tanner. While different self-tanners may have different instructions, there are also general guidelines you’ll usually want to follow. 

Before applying your self-tanner of choice, the basic prep steps are to cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize your skin. Then you’ll want to smooth on the self-tanner. You’ll also want to wash your hands thoroughly after you’re done to help avoid them ending up darker than the rest of your body. Alternatively, picking up a self-tanning mitt can help to keep your palms from getting stained. 

Post-tanning, you’ll also want to wait until your self-tanner has completely dried before putting on clothes — and when you do get dressed, opt for wearing dark, loose clothing. As for when you can repeat this process, typically you can use self-tanner every day or every other day until you reach your desired level of color and then once or twice a week to help maintain the results.

Myth 5. Self-Tanner Will Make You Orange

Not necessarily! Whether or not you turn orange is all about the formula. Today, there is an increasing number of self-tanners that will leave you with a natural-looking, bronzed tan. Still, if you’re worried about ending up orange, look for formulas with green undertones.

Myth 6. Self-Tanner Will Make Your Palms Orange

Speaking of turning orange, you may be worried about ending up with orange palms when all is said and done. We touched on this earlier, but to avoid stained palms, you can use a self-tanning mitt to apply your fake tan. If you don’t have one, you can still use your hands to apply self-tanner, just make sure to wipe your palms clean with a cleansing wipe or towelette when you’re done and don’t forget to wipe between your fingers.

Myth 7. It’ll Get All Over Your Sheets

With innovations like clear self-tanner, there’s no need to worry about your sheets and clothes being stained by self-tanner. Simply use one with a clear formula, like the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Mousse, and enjoy the perks of a faux tan without the hassle of steering clear of everything white.

Editor’s tip: If your favorite formula is in fact tinted, consider using darker sheets when you’re tanning.

Myth 8. You Shouldn’t Use Self-Tanner When You’re Pale

If you have fair skin, you may be afraid to reach for a self-tanner out of fear that it’ll end up looking incredibly unnatural. Opt for a gradual self-tanner, which requires a few applications to build up the color. This will allow you to customize your tan and remove any worry of a tan that’s darker than you’re comfortable with.

Next: 5 Tricks to Make Your Self-Tanner Last Longer

Edited by: Shannon Stubbs, Design by: Crystal Miller

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