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10 Self-Tanner Tips to Help You Get a Golden Glow Year-Round

Get your glow on without the UV damage.
May 18, 2022

It may seem counterintuitive to consider using self-tanner for a gorgeous glow as summer nears, but it may actually be the better way to tan. No matter the season, the best self-tanner can help you achieve that sun-kissed look but without the UV damage you get from baking in the actual sun. 

Of course, applying self-tanner can be easier said than done — especially if you’re new to it. There’s always the risk of streaks, uneven color and orange palms. That’s why we’re sharing a few tips on how to apply self-tanner so you can achieve that bronzed beauty glow seamlessly. With these tips and tricks in your arsenal, soon enough self-tanning will just be another step in your skin care routine.

1.  Choose the Right Self-Tanner for You

Start by choosing a self-tanner that best suits your needs. Self-tanners come in a variety of forms such as sprays, towelettes, gels, foams, wash-off formulas, gradual lotions, and more. Do a little research to find the self-tanner formula that you feel most comfortable using. It may very well come down to how you like to apply your skin care products and which consistencies you prefer.

If you want to test out a few self-tanners to see what works best for you, take your pick from these self-tanner favorites. 

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops, Fragrance-Free

These self-tanning drops for the face can be mixed into your moisturizer for a glow that takes very little work.

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Water Mist, Vitamin E

Also for the face, this water-based tanning mist applies no prep and instantly gives your skin a dewy and refreshed look. 

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Glow Daily Moisturizer Natural Skin Tone Enhancer

This self-tanning lotion for your body gives the skin a subtle, natural-looking glow that you can maintain with daily use.

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse

For a tan that develops gradually but has a long-lasting finish, reach for this foamy self-tanner infused with vitamin E and coconut water.

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Towelettes for Body

These tanning towelettes are perfect for anyone who needs to tan on the go or for those who pack a very light makeup bag

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist

If you love the idea of a spray tan, opt for this self-tanner spray with a wide applicator nozzle to help you get an even, streak-free result.

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2. Exfoliate Beforehand

A lot of people forget to exfoliate before applying a self-tanner, which is a major beauty faux pas. If you want to rock a gorgeous, golden glow, you should properly prep your skin for self-tanner. Exfoliating can help you get an even color application, as the self-tanner won’t be clinging to dry patches of skin. Be sure to pay particular attention to areas like your knees and elbows, since they can oftentimes be drier than the rest of your body

3. Shave At the Right Time

Remember, shaving is a form of exfoliation. That means it can actually be a good idea to shave before applying self-tanner. Plus, you won’t want to shave in the days immediately after self-tanning because you might actually end up stripping off the tan you spent time developing.

4. Apply Moisturizer Before Tanner

After exfoliating your body, continue the prepping process by applying a moisturizer. You shouldn’t apply self-tanner without moisturizing first, because skipping out on this prep step could potentially leave you with patchy color — this goes for your face and the rest of your body.

5. Work In Sections

If you want a believable-looking tan and an even application, apply your self-tanner in sections, making sure to massage the formula onto your skin in a uniform circular motion. Consider investing in a self-tanning mitt to help keep your palms from getting stained. 

Editor’s tip: If you do decide to use your hands, make sure you wash them well with soap and water after applying self-tanner to each section, otherwise your palms will end up darker than the rest of your body.

6. Don’t Skip Small Spots

When it comes to self-tanner, every visible spot matters. You may think skipping over someplace small, like your ears or the tops of your feet, won’t make a major difference — but it can be a dead giveaway that your tan came from a bottle. So, be sure to hit those small spots, even if you need to use a cotton swab to cover every speck of skin.

7. Mix With Moisturizer for Tricky Spots

Typically, the trickiest places to apply self-tanner are your joint areas, such as your ankles, knees, and wrists. These areas tend to soak up more color since they’re on the drier side, and this can leave you with an uneven finish. If you’re using a self-tanner lotion, dilute it with a moisturizer when applying to these areas to help make the color appear a little lighter. 

8. Use Baby Powder to Set Your Tan

Chances are there’s a container of baby powder somewhere in your house, even if there hasn’t been a baby around in decades. And that ever-present container is about to come in handy. After applying self-tanner, dust baby powder onto areas that are prone to creasing, like armpits and elbows. The baby powder acts something like face powder for your makeup, locking the self-tanner in place and preventing creases.

9. Take It One Layer at a Time

If you assume that the more self-tanner you layer onto your skin, the deeper of a tan you’ll achieve, let us stop you right there. While that logic isn’t totally whacky, it doesn’t quite hold up. When it comes to self-tanner it’s best to apply a single thin layer, let your tan develop and then wait to reapply until the instructions suggest. Adding another layer immediately after the first application won’t actually make your tan darker, you’re just more likely to make a mess.

10. Be Patient

Time and patience are your friends when it comes to getting a flawless-looking fake tan. People often throw on their clothes before their self-tanner is fully dry, which can result in a splotchy finish and stained clothes. That's never a good look. 

After you’ve finished applying self-tanner, give it time to fully dry. Not only that but when you do get dressed, stick with loose, dark clothing, since you’ll be less likely to rub color off on these pieces. You should also avoid showering, sweating, and swimming for the next couple of hours to help avoid any streaking.

If you know that you’re not one to sit and wait around for your glow to grow, apply your self-tanner at night when you’re settling in. That way, your tan can develop while you binge your favorite content or while you sleep, so you can wake up to a gorgeous, radiant complexion.

Next: The Best Times to Use Self-Tanner

Edited by: Shalwah Evans, Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn

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