Practice Safe Sun- Part Two: Tan-talizing Sunless Options – Self Tanners

This is part two of a three-part series:
Part One
Part Three

Is pale the new tan? With all the liquid bronzers, self- tanners, powder bronzers and luminzers hitting the shelves this season, I’m thinking not… There is something about the glowing, slimming, smoothing effect of tan that just makes everything look better. Luckily, you can have it all with the latest bronzing and tanning products – safe, effective and natural looking summer skin any time of year!

Self tanners

Saying the word “self- tanner” instantly makes me think of the streaky orange skin I was left with when I tried it for the first time in junior high. I promise you though, I have since had MUCH better results and I really believe it is simple and possible to achieve a natural looking, sun- free tan in the comfort of your own home. Self tanning products have come such a long way and modern formulas are easy to use and give gorgeous results. Check out my tips to faking a flawless tan all year long:

  1. EXFOLIATE – the best tip I can give you to ensure your self tanner goes on evenly and dries to a streak- free all over glow is to ALWAYS exfoliate before application. Make sure your skin is a smooth as a baby’s bum before you tan by sloughing off dead skin skills in the shower or bath. I prefer to use a physical scrub to do this (something with grains or granules), but you could use a mitt or loofah or even a retexturizing body cream with chemical exfoliants.

Always shave or wax BEFORE you tan, as this step also removes the top layer of built up skin cells.

PRO TIP- I like to continue to exfoliate throughout the duration of my self tan so that it fades evenly!

  1. MOISTURIZE – many self tanners come in the form of a moisturizer or lotion, and will add hydration to the skin. If you apply a rich moisturizer all over the body and then apply your tanner, it won’t develop evenly on the skin. That said, you should be wary of drier areas on the skin where the tanner will “stick” and develop darker. For an even tan, I apply moisturizer only to my elbows, knees and ankles in a thin layer to protect these parched areas from getting too dark & then let my self tanner do the rest of the hydrating. I also pop a bit of moisturizer on areas with a lot of texture, like my knuckles, to keep self tanner from developing in the nooks and crannies. Moisturizing your skin throughout your tan, after it develops, will help it last so much longer!

PRO TIP: It’s a good idea to use moisturizer or Vaseline as a barrier where you DON’T want your tan to develop – like between your fingers and toes, on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, and on your nail beds and cuticles!

  1. USE A MITT – this was a real “AHA!” moment for me when using self tanners. First of all, using a tanning mitt keeps your palms from getting stained with self tanner – the tell tale sign of a fake tan! Second of all, it ensures an even application – it’s almost like a paint roller for your self tanner. And lastly, it’s so much faster. The mitt will provide you with a larger surface area than your palms so you can quickly and easily reach all of the areas that you want to tan.
  1. GET HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS – those hard to reach areas like the backs of your legs or shoulders are going to stand out if you miss them in your tanning escapades. Host a tanning night with friends or ask your partner to lend a hand. This is when the mitt really comes in handy so that your helper isn’t at risk of staining their palms. I find it useful to use a self tanner with a guide colour to see exactly what areas you need extra help to cover.
  1. TAN ALL OF THE THINGS – I almost never use self tanners on my face because a) I do a lot of peels and masks and it doesn’t last on my skin and b) I always wear makeup so I’m able to adjust the colour of my foundation or bronzer to match my body. If you’re not like me, though, and you don’t wear makeup every day, you’ll need to use a tanner on your face too so that everything matches up. Make sure you use a self tanner that is safe to use on the face. When I do use a self tanner on the facial area, I stick to the high points of my face where the sun would naturally hit me, rather than a solid colour all over. I prefer gradual tanners, or tanning drops you can add to a facial moisturizer on the face for a subtler effect. Don’t forget to tan your neck and ears, and the area behind your ears as well – in case a ponytail or top bun is in order during the duration of your tan.

It might seem like a lot of work, but the rules of self tanning become second nature the more often you do it. I’m rather fair skinned and burn easily in the sun. It’s very hard for me to tan naturally, but I love the look of golden skin. There are tons of self- tanning products on the market now- many that are suited specifically to your skin tone. I’ve found most are incredibly easy to use, especially with a helping hand. Not only are self- tanners a pale girl’s dream, they also add a gorgeous golden radiance to deeper skin tones. They can be a real enhancement to your complexion, even in the winter months, but you must remember not to skip your SPF. Self tanners will have you looking like you just came back from a Caribbean vacation, but the boost of colour won’t add any additional protection from the sun.

Part One (previous)
Part Three (next)