Self tanner can be tricky for beginner tanners. Use our guide to learn how to apply self tanner for a natural-looking glow all year round!
Self tanners might be intimidating if you’ve never tried applying one before. With the right tips, avoiding a bad tan is easy! Use this step-by-step guide to get a beautiful summer glow all year round while sparing your skin from damaging sun exposure.
The first step for applying self tanner is choosing the right product for you. Some formulas are poor quality and have ingredients that will separate, resulting in streaky or orange tans. When choosing the best self tanning products for your skin type, take these factors into consideration:
Once you find a sunless tanner that’s ideal for your skin type and tanning goals, it’s time to apply your self tanner! First, gather your supplies. Grab your favorite tanning lotion and set up near a sink so that it’s easy to wash your palms after application.
Tanning products go on better and last longer is your skin is exfoliated prior to application. Use a body scrub to remove dead skin cells and create a smooth canvas for your self tanner. Also be sure to shave before applying self tanner as it can make your tan fade.
After showering, pat your skin dry and apply sunless tanner in a cool, dry place to prevent excess sweating. If you're applying tanner in a hot climate, opt for a tanning mousse—these types of tanners dry much faster.
Starting at the bottom, begin applying your sunless tanner in sections (feet, legs, torso, chest, arms, and face). Massage the product into your skin in a circular pattern, being careful to blend well at the wrists and ankles. Make sure you use enough tanner so that you get an even tan all over your body. If you apply a thin layer in one area and a thicker layer in another area, your tan may look patchy and uneven.
When applying tanner to trouble spots—such as your back—you can ask a friend or loved one for help, or use a tanning mitt. To get the perfect glow on the backs of your hands, don’t forget to blend your hands! Use a makeup brush to apply a small amount of tanner to the backs of your hands and wrists.
To avoid orange palms, we recommend using a tanning mitt or washing your hands thoroughly between sections. Make sure to clean your nails and cuticles because they will react with the DHA in self tanner. Use a nail scrubber or washcloth with soap or body wash to clean off any leftover self tanner after you’re done applying.
Once you're finished, allow your sunless tanner to dry for about 10 minutes before getting dressed. If you're in a rush, you can help speed drying with a hairdryer set on its coldest setting.
To avoid rub off and streaking, choose loose-fitting clothes and avoid sweating for the first few hours after application. “You want the tanner to dry to avoid any rub off on clothing which could cause streaking. Especially tight clothing should be avoided until the tan is completely dry to avoid streaks," says Hailey Hemmer, a scientist at Jergens® Skincare.
If you want a deeper color after applying, simply reapply tanner. You can also use a combination of multiple tanning lotions to achieve your perfect glow. For example, apply an instant tanner for immediate color and then apply a gradual tanner in the following days to maintain your color.
Well, there you have it, our top tips for how to apply self tanner. Find even more self tanning tips here!