Ah, self-tanner. It's the beauty product every fair-skinned girl develops a love/hate relationship with right as prom, graduation, or the first beach day of the year rolls around. You want a glowing complexion, but you definitely don't want the skin damage that comes along with baking in the sun for hours (or, even worse, a turn inside the tanning bed). Apply self-tanner correctly and you'll triumphantly leave the bathroom with golden skin that constrasts beautifully with your new ultra-white sundress. But if application goes awry, you could be left with streaks, patches, or an orange Oompa-Loompa color that every self-tanner newbie dreads.
The key to nailing a natural-looking color at home with no help beyond a bottle of instruction-less tanner and a medicine cabinet mirror? A little bit of know-how, a few expert-sourced tips, and a commitment to proper preparation (along with a few deep breaths and a pair of crossed fingers). Without further ado, we present the top 10 tips for the perfect at-home tan. Follow them closely and avoid being caught tan-handed with two telltale orange-y palms.
1. Practice With a Wash-Off Tan
If you're a first-timer and feel nervous about committing to a tan that will totally change your skin tone for 5 to 7 days, go for a low-stress, low-commitment formula the first time around.
"You can definitely practice with a wash-off or one day tanner. That way, you can see what it would look like on your skin and you can practice applying it with a tanning mitt just to get your technique down," says James Read, founder of self-tanner line James Read Tan. "If you're just scared of being too dark, go for a gradual tanner or apply a regular tanner and then wash it off after four hours when the color hasn't fully developed yet. It will be much lighter on the skin and less of a commitment."
2. Gather the Proper Tools
Although self-tanners usually packaged with just a single bottle, for the best possible results (read: even, golden-toned skin), you're going to need a few more tools ready to go. Sophie Evans, resident expert for the St. Tropez self-tanning line, has a number of products in her arsenal that help create the perfect tan. These include a skin exfoliator, a moisturizer, a tanning mitt that helps you apply the tan without staining your palms, separate tanners for the face and body and a spray formula for hard-to-reach areas, and finally, wet wipes to correct any mistakes as you go along.
3. Exfoliate and Shave 24 Hours Before Tanning
For a truly even color, you're going to want a smooth canvas for application. "You should always wax or shave the day before you apply your tan because sometimes [hair removal] can cause irritation initially and make your skin slightly sensitive," James recommends. "You should also fully exfoliate 24 hours before your tan to ensure it's even and to get rid of any dead skin."
In addition, just before you apply your tan, James recommends running an ice cube or frozen bag of peas (nope, not kidding) over your legs and face to constrict hair follicles and pores. This will prevent self-tanner from entering these tiny crevices and leaving small, darker-colored dots on your skin.
4. Prep Problem Areas
You'll need to pay special attention to breakouts or any normally dry areas of skin before you apply a self-tan. "Always apply a moisturizer barrier to joints, feet, hands prior to tanning since they can develop darker than anywhere else on the body," Sophie advises. In addition, you'll want to apply a concentrated amount of moisturizer using a Q-Tip or cotton ball to any skin conditions you're dealing with like acne or eczema. The ingredients in self-tanner develop darker when they come in contact with these areas and extra moisture will block the product from highlighting what you'd rather hide.
5. Be Very Generous with the Amount of Product You Use
First-timers who are afraid of being too dark may be hesitant to use large globs of product while applying—don't be. "Zebra-like stripes are caused by lack of product and over-rubbing. Always use enough so that the product glides effortlessly and smoothly over the skin and buff away any excess with your tanning mitt," Sophie says. "You can never use too much self-tan, as the skin can only absorb a certain amount of tanning agent (I recommend St. Tropez products specifically for this reason) but using too little self-tan will result in the dreaded streaky tan."
6. Avoid Application on Your Hands and Feet
While you want to be generous with the product on all other areas of your body, you actually shouldn't apply the product at all to your hands and feet. "Always work excess product from the arms onto the hands and leftover product from the legs onto the feet and ankles," James says. "Don't apply tanner directly on those area because it always looks too dark and unnatural."
7. Enlist a Friend or Get Creative to Address Hard-to-Reach Areas
While Sophie recommends using a self-tanner with a spray nozzle to reach difficult areas like the center of your back or backs of your legs, you can also grab a friend and pass her your tanning mitt in order to even out areas you can't twist and turn to see. If no one's nearby and you're not equipped with a spray self-tanner, it's time to get really inventive. "Put a tanning mitt on a wooden spoon and wrap an elastic band around it and then you can do your back all by yourself," James recommends. Pure genius.
8. Don't Freak Out if You Mess Up
If your tan develops and you notice an unwanted dark patch, never fear! There are several easy fixes that utilize products you probably already own. "Apply baby oil to the darker area and leave for 10 minutes, then scrub the skin with an exfoliator and use a hot, damp washcloth to buff the skin. Hair removal cream is also very effective. Simply apply it with a Q-Tip and leave it on for half of the recommended time before removing," Sophie recommends. "Or, if you have St. Tropez Tan Remover, leave it on for the skin for just a minute, scrub, and then remove with a hot, damp washcloth."
If you don't have any of those products on hand, you can simply look to your fridge. "Get some lemon lime juice and some water and soak a small towel in it. Put the towel in the microwave for less than a minute, let it cool for a few seconds, and then rub it over the area where your tan got a little too dark," James advises. So, when life hands you lemons, don't make lemonade, use them to perfect your self-tanner instead.
9. Take Proper Care of Your Post-Application Glow
Even after you finally achieve a gorgeous, streak-free glow, your work is not quite done yet. A diligent regimen of moisturizing your face and body and light exfoliation will keep your perfectly-applied tan looking flawless for an entire week. "Your skin unfortunately does not shed evenly due to tight clothes and sweating. To maintain an even color, lightly exfoliate the skin every 2 to 3 days. It also allows you to top up the tan as you wish without the skin getting built up with un-even self-tan color," Sophie says.
10. Remove All Traces of Self-Tanner Before Going for Round Two
If you fell in love with the results of your initial tan and want to keep the bronze party going all summer long (we don't blame you!), you'll want to be sure you're fully prepped for your next tanning session. "While exfoliating after three or four days helps your tan fade more evenly, you also want to fully exfoliate at the end to make sure your skin is nice and clear," says James. "You should be totally free of tan before you're ready to start another round of self-tanning."
- ^ James Read Tan (www.jamesreadtan.com)
- ^ St. Tropez (www.sttropeztan.com)
- ^ St. Tropez Tan Remover (www.beauty.com)
- ^ Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Self-Tans While She Sleeps (and You Can Too) (www.teenvogue.com)
- ^ This Just In: A Big Percentage of Teen Girls (Still!) Use Tanning Beds (www.teenvogue.com)
- ^ Ten Self Tanners To Fake Sun-Kissed Skin (www.teenvogue.com)
Source : http://www.teenvogue.com/beauty/skin-care/2015-06/best-tips-for-self-tanning
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