Self-tanning Tips for a Gorgeous Glow

Gone are the days of slathering on baby oil and baking ourselves brown under a sizzling summer sun. Now that we know more about the long- term harmful effects of what used to be an innocent sun tan, we can’t just go “lay out” anymore when we want to get that sexy golden glow. The odds of getting skin cancer are just too risky, and once we realized that sun exposure makes our skin age faster, that was it. It’s sunscreen and shade from now on. Even tanning beds are supposed to be dangerous, so the beauty experts figured out a way to safely help us make our skin bronze and beautiful.

Self-tanning products let you look like you have a gorgeous, glowing tan without exposing you to harmful UV rays. The top beauty companies have created lots of lovely lotions that do a great job of duplicating the appearance of a natural sun tan when they are used properly. There are bronzing gels and cream tans, spray tans, tinted tans, tanning lotions, body shimmer and bronzing powders. Experiment a little to find the products you like best, and just be careful not to go too dark. Here a few tips that will help you get the most out of your self-tanning experience:


There are certain steps you should take to prepare your skin for self-tanning so that you end up with an even tone. You’ll get the best results from your self-tanner if your skin is perfectly clean, smooth, and free of any irritations or oils.

2 Days Before Self-Tanning

  • Hair Removal– Wax at least 48 hours before applying self-tanning lotions, or shave at least a full day in advance. You want to have legs, bikini area, eyebrows and upper lips to be smooth and hair-free, but your skin needs time to get over the irritation of shaving or waxing before you add any self-tanning products.
  • Pre-Test Your Tanner– Two days before you perform a full body self-tanner application, you should test a small discreet area. Rub a small amount of self-tanner on a portion of skin on your lower leg. You can make sure you’re getting the color you want and that don’t have some type of allergy to the product before you cover your entire body.
  • Nourish Your Skin– A smooth texture to your skin is aided by proper rest and hydration. Your skin will always look better when you are drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep, so just before you self-tan, try to drink extra water and go to bed early.

1 Day Before Self-Tanning

  • Exfoliate From Head to Toe- You can help prevent splotches of uneven color by removing all those dead skin cells before you apply self-tanner. Give yourself a thorough scrub in the shower with a good loofah, and if you’d like you can also use an oil-free body polish. Apply a good exfoliating face mask or use an exfoliating cleanser the day before you use a face tanner to rejuvenate the skin on your face.

Immediately Before Self-Tanning

  • Start with Clean Skin- Perfumes, oils and deodorants on your skin can interfere with the ingredients in your self-tanning products. Take a shower and dry off before you start the application, and leave off the perfume for now.
  • Moisturize Specific Dry Spots- Extra-dry areas of skin can absorb more of the self-tanning lotion than the rest of your skin and become much darker. For a more consistent, all-over tan, apply body lotion on your elbows, knees and heels before you apply self-tanner to keep these spots from absorbing too much.
  • Protect your Hands- Without proper protection your palms will soak up a lot of the self-tanner while you’re rubbing it on the rest of your body, and you’ll end up with orange hands. You can buy self-tanning mitts, or wear tight-fitting disposable gloves until you finish your body, then do your hands. Put some Vaseline on your cuticles and fingernails to prevent staining.
  • Put your Hair Up- Pull your hair back in a ponytail or pin it up in a bun so your face and neck are clear and you don’t miss any spots. 



Standing in nude in front of a full length mirror, start with your feet and work your way up, smoothing on a thin layer of self-tanning lotion onto your entire body. Cover your toes, your entire foot and your ankle, then move up to spread onto your shins and calves. Apply tanner to your thighs from front to back and then cover your knees. Spread over your hips and stomach, apply to your chest, shoulders and arms.

You can use a separate face self-tanner specifically for your skin type, dry or oily, and use that to cover  your neck and ears. Smooth over your brow, cheeks and chin gently, and use your pinky finger to lightly spread the tanner around your eyes. Make sure you cover your entire face right into your hairline.

Wait about 15 minutes before you get dressed so your skin will be completely dry. You don’t want to rub off the tanner before it can develop, and you also don’t want to stain your clothes. For the next few hours you should avoid any kind of excessive exercise that could cause sweating so you don’t end up with streaks.

Let your tanner develop for at least 3 hours before you decide whether or not it’s dark enough to suit your tastes. After three hours, if you want to go another shade darker then you can re-apply once more.


  • After your face self-tanner develops, apply a sweep of bronzer to your cheeks, nose and forehead, places the sun would naturally highlight.
  • Before applying face tanner, put a little moisturizer underneath your eyes. The resulting lighter shade makes you look younger.
  • If you do end up with streaks, you can smooth out the color by wiping with an astringent toner, and you can cure a patchy application by exfoliating.

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