Self Tanning Tips and How to Avoid Common Mistakes
Self tanning products give you color without any risk of UV exposure, and can also be applied at any time convenient to you. Radiating yourself under a hot summer sun is no longer considered a beauty treatment. You can “get a tan” before bed without fear of developing skin cancer.
Self tanning products use the active ingredient dihydroxyacetone (DHA) to color the upper layer of your skin, the epidermis. When the DHA reaches the epidermal skin cells, it attaches itself to amino acids to produce a brown pigment known as melanoidin, resulting in a nice tan. But because the epidermal cells are dead, we constantly shed them – so your sunless tan will last for a few days.
There are a wide variety of sunless tanning products out there, each with its own color shade and method of application, so you will be able to find the color you want, and will also be able to pick the application method that best suits you, whether you want to “spray on” your tan or rub it in. Today’s formulas are light-years ahead of those bizarre orange concoctions of decades past. A great sunless tan can be indistinguishable from the real thing; the key is a good product and a skillful application.
We compiled some self tanning tips for you on how to avoid common mistakes:
What you may need
- a place to take a shower or bath
- exfoliating loofah, body mitt, body scrub or lotion
- skin moisturizing lotion
- self tanner (spray or lotion)
- sink to wash your hands frequently or alternatively surgical gloves
- Cotton balls or a cosmetic sponge
- a band or clip to keep hair off of your face
- a fingernail scrub brush.
- If you are going to apply self tanner to your back, make sure you have a sponge paintbrush with a long handle or a friend handy (wink, wink) who can follow your directions.
- You may also want a loose outfit, such as a light robe, to wear while the self tanner is drying.
- Optional for quick fixes: hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice or baking soda
Choose your shade. You want something that will compliment your natural skin tone. If you have blinding white skin, start with a product labeled light. You may be able to work your way up to a medium over time. With today’s natural looking products it’s kind of hard to go wrong, but if you apply deepest darkest glow to porcelain skin, you can still turn yourself into “the joke of the day” with your co-workers. Products marked deep or dark look best on people who have naturally dark complexions and tan very easily.
Here’s some recommended products at Spa Boutique:
- For porcelain skin tone - ST. Tropez Everyday Gradual Tan Mousse (gradual tan that you can build up) & Application Mitt
- For mid Ranged skin tone – ST. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse & Application Mitt
- For darker tones - ST. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse (re-apply the following day to deepen your color) & Application Mitt
Exfoliate. You’re supposed to exfoliate and moisturize before using a self-tanner, but most people don’t do that until right before they apply the product. Prepare your skin by exfoliating every morning in the shower a few days before you apply self-tanner. Sunless tanners work by coloring the dead surface layers of your skin. So, the faster the dead skin cells flake off the faster you lose your tan. Dry rough areas also tend to absorb more tanner and become too dark. If you don’t exfoliate, you’ll end up with some really dark areas and some areas where the color is peeling off. The overall effect is splotchy one.
Exfoliate with a body scrub, loofah, body brush, or glove. Pay special attention to rough areas like knees, elbows, ankles, and the tops of your feet. Don’t get carried away though, you want to have some skin left when you’re done! Shaving also exfoliates, so it’s OK to do that a day ahead of time too. (Exception: Don’t shave your legs if you have sensitive skin because the tanning lotion can cause a reaction. )
Dry off. After bathing and exfoliating, allow yourself and the room to dry off. If you are applying the self tanner in the bathroom, you do not want the room to be steamy. Nor should the room be so warm that you’re sweating because it can result in streaks.
Avoid the dreaded bronze palms. Follow one of these two tips or your hideous glowing copper hands will scream to the world that you have a fake tan.
- Wear gloves. Someplace on your bottle of tanner it will tell you to wash your hands when you’re done. If you wait until you’re done to wash your hands you’ll never get the stuff off. Spare yourself the trauma and pick up a box of latex gloves at any drugstore. Get the kind without powder (usually surgical gloves). (Powdered ones will leave a little bumpy, streaky powder trail through your tan.) Use a cosmetic sponge (normally used for foundation) to put self-tanner on the back of the hands to the top of the fingers.
- Even better – use an application tool like the St.Tropez Application Mitt which allows an even application and clean hands!
Avoid streaking. When applying the tanner, work slowly and rub the product in completely. Apply the self-tanner using long sweeping movements, and then go over the area again with wide circular movements. In other words, if you apply self-tanner in streaks, you’ll get just that: a stripy, very unnatural looking tan.
If you’re prone to streaks, we recommends using a lotion (instead of quick-drying foam), which will give you more time to smooth out uneven areas. Next, use a light moisturizer on extra dry areas, like knees and elbows (dry skin tends to absorb more self-tanner which can lead to an uneven, patchy result). Fortunately, many self-tanners are now tinted so you can see exactly where you’re applying them-and spots you might have inadvertently missed.
Legs first. Do one whole leg at a time. Remember that knees and feet tend to be dry areas that can grab too much color. If you’re paranoid about blotches apply a little bit of regular lotion to these areas before you start. If you don’t want freakish spotted toes, don’t apply tanner directly to the tops of your feet. Carefully blend some down from your legs for a more subtle effect.
Work your way up. Do your torso, neck and face next. If you’re using a spray and you’re fairly flexible you can reach the middle of your back without help. If you’re using lotion and you’re stiff as a board, find an assistant to help you with your back. You may also be able to pull it off using a sponge on a stick.
Dry skin techniques . When applying the tanner, you’ll get the most natural look if you dilute the self-tanner with an equal amount of moisturizer before applying it to your feet, ankles, elbows and knees, as well as to the inside of your arms and under your chin.
Treat your face differently. Use a special self-tanning formula for the face. These formulas contain less oil than the body formulas thereby decreasing the chance of clogged pores and breakouts. This probably goes without saying, but don’t spray yourself in the face. Put some tanner in the palms of your hands, rub your hands together and then apply it to your face. Be sure to blend it into your hairline and into your jaw and neck area. You don’t want to get any in your eyes, but you do want to carefully blend around them to avoid a masked raccoon effect. If you have short hair, don’t forget your ears.
The secret arm technique. If you look at somebody with a natural tan, the tops of their arms are usually slightly darker than the underside because of the increased sun exposure. To mimic this effect with you self tan. Apply the tanner to the top of your arm only and carefully blend it all the way around. Blend it really, really well. Then pull your gloves off, pat your hands dry, and put a little tanner on a cotton ball. Apply a light coat to the backs of both hands first. Then do the backs of your fingers, looking out for the knuckles, which don’t need very much color. When there’s not much left on the cotton ball and it’s almost dry, blend it around and between your fingers, and don’t forget your thumb and the underside of your wrist.
Quick fixes. Expert correction tips If you’ve got stripes but are still on the pale side, try evening out the area with a tinted moisturizer or a bronzer, like Jane Iredales So-bronze Safe Tan
If your streaks, tan lines or blotches are too dark to cover, we recommend lightening them by wiping the entire area with a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice or a baking soda solution. Alternatively you can get a self tan remover like St.Tropez Self Tan Remover.
Some final reminders. Once you’ve applied your tan, you need to allow it to completely dry. Some spray tans dry in just a few minutes, while lotions may take 20 minutes or more. Either way, you need to wait at least an hour before swimming, sweating, or wearing tight clothing. Any of the above can streak and ruin a new tan.
To maintain your results longer, moisturize your skin about eight hours after applying the tanner. Rule of thumb: Once your tan is set, keep yourself well moisturized!
If you want to go darker, you can repeat the process the day after you tan. Go easy on the exfoliation the second time around so that you don’t remove your first layer. The longer it takes the skin to flake off, the longer your tan will last. Most bottled tans begin to fade after a few days. You’ll need to reapply once or twice a week to keep your color.
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Tags: beautiful tips, beauty skin tips, bronzed skin, Fake tan, glowing skin tips, healthy tan, safe tan, self tan, self-tanning, spray tan, St. Tropez, sunless tan, tanning cream, tanning lotion, tanning spray