How to get the most out of your sunless tan


We all know that the sun’s harmful rays and sun lamps (tanning beds) age our skin prematurely and can lead to skin cancer.  You can still get that healthy-looking bronzed glow safely with self-tanners. There are self-tanning products that you can use at home and many tanning salons offer spray tans.

To get the most natural look, and help your color last longer, there are some steps you should take before and after application. You should also think about the timing of your application. You need to be able to avoid getting splashed with water, getting rained on and sweating. Any of these can cause the tanning product to run and streak.

Whether applying a self-tanner at home or at a salon, the same rules apply.

Before application

  • Exfoliate: Removing any dead or dry skin cells will allow the product to go on more evenly and look more natural. This will also help you tan last longer.  
  • Remove makeup: When applying a self-tanner to your face, be sure to remove all makeup and skin care products to provide a clean, fresh surface.
  • Avoid moisturizer: Moisturizers can block the product from absorbing evenly into your skin.  
  • Jewelry: Don’t forget to remove your jewelry, especially when getting a spray tan at a salon
  • Problem areas: Some tanning salons offer a barrier cream to prevent over-absorption in areas like knees, ankles and elbows. If you use a barrier cream, apply it very lightly.

Home application

  • Shower: If you shower before application, try to avoid using bar soap as some of these can leave behind a residue that will affect the absorption of the product.
  • Don’t apply to wet skin: Dry your skin thoroughly before application.  
  • Apply in sections: Apply the self-tanner in sections (arms, then legs, then torso) going in a circular motion. Wash your hands after each section to avoid staining your hands orange.
  • Problem areas: You can dilute the product with a damp towel or a thin layer of moisturizer on top of the self-tanner in areas that tend to soak up more product, such as the knees and elbows.

After application

  • Drying time: Allow the self-tanner to dry for at least 10 minutes after application before getting dressed.
  • What to wear: Wear loose fitting clothes to avoid your clothing rubbing against your skin and causing blotchiness. You should also wear dark clothing as some of the product may stain your clothes while it dries. It’s also a good idea to wear flip flops instead of shoes and socks.
  • Sunscreen! You still need to protect your skin from the sun. Be sure to continue to use sunscreen as usual.