By Dawn Mattina
Salon tans are your best bet
If you want a flawless, professional application and can afford the price, head to a spa or salon. For upward of $60, you can get one of many options: Full body exfoliation and professional application of self-tanner, airbrush bronzing (where an aesthetician sprays a fine mist of tanner over your entire body), or your least expensive option: spray tanning. You can step into a booth and get sprayed on all sides for about $20 a session or more.
How to use self-tanner on your face
This is a four-step process. Pull hair up in a ponytail before you start so you don’t miss the back of your neck and your back.
First, prep skin by gently cleansing and exfoliating. Skip moisturizer, which may interfere with the tanner.
Step two: Apply under-eye cream. You want the color of your skin to be lighter under the eyes, it makes you look younger.
Step three: Blend a few drops of self-tanner and equal parts moisturizer in the palm of your hand then apply over face and neck. You only want to go one shade darker than your natural color.
Step four: Let color develop for three hours then follow up with a sweep of bronzer on forehead, cheeks and nose: areas where the sun naturally shines.
Don’t forget: Smooth remaining tanner over earlobes and upper ears. Wash hands thoroughly. Don’t skip the sunscreen.
How to self-tan your body
For this three-step process, start by exfoliating skin with a body scrub in the shower paying special attention to rough areas including knees and elbows (dry skin absorbs higher concentrations of tanner). Shave before you tan. Suggestion: using a body oil, instead of shaving cream, when shaving.
Rub Vaseline on cuticles and nails. This protects your manicure and keeps fingertips and nails from staining.
Apply tanner limb by limb, starting with your legs. Apply over the shin and calf of a leg, sweeping tanner down over your ankle, foot and toes. Then apply tanner to your thigh from front to back, using the excess to cover your knee. Repeat on your other leg. For the final step, apply tanner to your hips, stomach and torso, following with your shoulders and arms. Wait 10 minutes to dry before dressing and avoid any excessive activity that will make you sweat for at least a few hours. If your tan hasn’t set, sweat could cause streaking.
Bonus tips: To remove tanner from palms, without washing off product from the tops of your hands, rub palms along a wet washcloth, making sure to get in between fingers.
Give arms, legs and décolletage a subtle glow with a body shimmer.
To create fake fab abs, create a contour with the tanner. Flex your stomach muscles in front of mirror, leaning to the side to see where your “ab line” is, then tracing the outside of your muscle with a bit of tanner on your finger. Do the same to the other side. Once it dries, do an all-over coat.
Pick the right tanner
There are several types of tanners: Tanners created just for the face, airbrush tanners, cream tans, bronzing gel, tinted tans and tan enhancers. There’s body shimmer and bronzing powder. You can layer tanners as colors fade. How? Apply a lotion then follow with bronzing powder or shimmer. Just be careful not to go too dark.
So you messed up, uh-oh!
If you end up with a streaky tan, you can fix with an astringent toner or even toothpaste. Exfoliate to even out a patchy application. Not dark enough? Repeat the procedure. Just make sure you gave the tan enough time to develop.