How to Master Your Next Self-Tan Application Like a Pro

The best way to tan? Fake it! Get that golden glow, without sun damage, in a flash with these clever steps and simple tips.

It doesn’t matter if you burn or not; sun exposure will damage your skin, which leads to advanced aging, wrinkles, sun spots and possibly more serious consequences such as skin cancer. So, with tanning beds and hours spent baking by the pool off limits, what’s the best way to tan? Simple. Well, sort of simple. The answer to how to get a tan fast—and, more importantly, safely—is with a self-tanner.

With so many options, it’s hard to know which self-tanning formula is best for you. The more experienced crowd should try a mousse or lotion, but if you have minimal experience with these products and want to know how to tan without burning, try L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Towelettes. This single-use product takes the guesswork out of how much to apply. Each wipe contains the perfect amount of lotion for a streak-free tan. An added bonus? No mess, especially compared to other faux-glow methods. 

Once you’ve decided what kind of self-tanner to use, the next step is nailing the prep and application. Those with practice in the art of application can achieve golden goddess results, while others who are less skilled can be left with streaks, stains or, perhaps the biggest faux-pas, orange blotches. You want to get a tan fast, but the pit falls are real—especially when you consider variables such as lack of skill, lack of prep and lack of time—and you can easily end up with disappointing results.

No matter what shade or type of tanning formula you use, the best way to tan lies in the application. So read on—and get ready for a gorgeous, safe and sunless tan.

Step 1. Hair removal and exfoliate

No matter your hair-removal method, it’s a good idea to be silky smooth and hair-free before you tan. Go one step further by exfoliating your face and body pre-tan, either the morning or evening before application. If you skip this step, your tan is at risk of fading and you can end up with dark patches in drier areas of the body where dead skin cells really pile up, such as your knees, feet, elbows and knuckles. To get smooth, tan-ready skin, try L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Coffee Scrub for Rough Skin.

In terms of how you exfoliate, you can go about it a few different ways. Banish dead skin cells with a dry brush, which promotes lymphatic drainage and stimulates circulation in the body while also exfoliating. Or, pick up a loofah and mix it with warm water in the shower. Finally, nothing beats a relaxing rubdown with a scrub; just be sure it’s oil-free.

Step 2. Moisturize—especially those dry areas

If you find that your ankles, knees and elbows are regularly two shades darker than the rest of your body post-faux-glow, you’re probably forgetting to moisturize pre-application. Use an oil-free moisturizer all over your body, and pay close attention to your knuckles, inner wrists, ankles, toes, elbows and knees. Stick with a light moisturizer, and steer clear of heavy body balms and oils, which can create a barrier between your skin and the tanning product.

Step 3. Get your glow on

As a general rule, wear a tanning mitt and apply the product in elongated circular motions. It helps with even distribution and saves your hands from being overly tanned. However, if you’re using a product like a mist or L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Towelettes, you can use your hands; just wash your palms with makeup remover or micellar water as soon as you’re finished. If you’re tanning alone, stand in front of a mirror so you can be sure you don’t miss any areas. And always work from the legs upward.

Step 4. Let it develop

Give yourself a few minutes before getting dressed to let the self-tanner dry. Skip restrictive clothes such as underwire bras, leggings or anything that rubs on the skin. Instead, opt for loose-fitting dark clothing. Keep away from water while your tan is developing. That means avoid going out in the rain, skip your spin class and no moisturizing for four to six hours after you apply your self-tanner. Moisture can cause your tan to develop unevenly. Most self-tanners have a guide colour—an initial tint that helps you see where you’ve applied product—so don’t be alarmed when you see it wash away in the shower once it’s time to remove.

Step 5. Maintain and reapply

The best thing you can do to keep your glow going strong on your face is to moisturize daily with L’Oréal Paris Collagen Day & Night Cream which will keep skin plump and hydrated. On your body, stay away from oils and balms that aren’t specifically formulated for self-tanned skin, as they can break down the results more quickly. If you really want to make things pop, try adding a gradual-tanning moisturizer to your regimen to help maintain your colour. Use it every couple of days for optimal results. To keep your skin glowing all season long, repeat the process every two to three weeks.

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