Getting a tan under the sun or inside a tanning bed is (no surprise there). But, you can get gorgeous glow the right way — that is, with a spray tan or self-tanning product. Since a perfect self-tanning outcome isn't always guaranteed, here are 17 tips for making your faux glow look authentically sun-kissed.
1. For an even tan, exfoliate your body from head to toe before applying any self-tanner. To prevent your tan from going on splotchy and fading unevenly, use an oil-free exfoliator (oil creates a barrier between your skin and the tanner, and will leave it streaky) before getting started. Try , which uses amino fruit extract complex to polish away dead skin cells away. , a tanning expert who spray-tans Victoria's Secret models, recommends exfoliating skin and shaving with a new razor the day before or the day of to further exfoliate your skin.
2. After showering and exfoliating, apply an oil- and fragrance-free lotion to your hands from your wrist to your fingertips, to the backs of your heels, and to your elbows and knees. These areas tend to be dry and will absorb more pigment than other areas of your body, causing unevenness. If you have large pores or dry skin, you should also apply a moisturizer on your face 20 minutes before applying your self-tanner, Kristyn says.
3. Adhere tape to the bottoms of your feet when using spray product to cover your skin in case you step in fallen residue. One clear sign of a fake tan: orange spots on the soles of your feet. Try , which is thick yet not too difficult to remove when you're finished.
4. To get tanner in your knuckle creases, bend your fingers so your hand looks like a claw. Think about it: You don't walk around with your fingers straight all day long, so make sure you're covering all the nooks on your body that can show when you move around.
5. Contour your cheekbones with a small sponge brush and a self-tanner that's made specifically for your face. Learn exactly how to do it . This will shave time off of your morning routine, since you'll literally wake up like this.
6. Instantly tone your body by contouring from head to toe. Simply focusing the tanner in certain areas can make a huge difference. Learn how to define your abs, butt, legs, and arms .
7. Make it easier to cover hard-to-reach areas like your back by assembling your own "mitt stick." Take your tanning mitt, a hair tie, and a back brush, then slip the mitt on top of the brush head and wrap the hair tie around the handle to keep the mitt from sliding off. Apply the tanner to your mitt and swipe it across the harder-to-reach areas.
8. Distribute the self-tanner on your mitt evenly by applying it to the center of your mitt and then folding it in half. This helps you apply less product to your face, hands, elbows, knees, and feet using the tip of the mitt — you won't end up overdoing it and applying the same amount to your face that you would, say, your thigh. Kristyn also suggests that you skip applying tanner on the areas around your elbows and instead blend the product toward your elbows with the sponge mitt to ensure the product is even and your elbows don't come out too dark.
9. Use a sponge brush to blend the tanner on your hands. After applying the tanner, lightly blend out the product with a sponge brush (like the kind you get at the craft or hardware store). This evens out dark spots and prevent any streaks from appearing after the tan develops. Kristyn also suggests doing this in between your fingers, toes, and on your knees, which tend to crease and often need blending.
10. Scrub the palms of your hands with an exfoliator after you've finished applying your self-tanner. Scoop a small amount of a scrub onto the middle of your palms and gently rub your hands together. Even if you use a mitt to apply your tanner (Kristyn says a mitt is the best way to ensure your tan is streak-free and your palms remain colorless), it's easy to make mistakes when the product is still wet. The grittiness of the exfoliator will help remove any leftover tanner that might have gotten on your skin in the process. Whatever you do, don't submerge your hands in water. Instead, follow the next step to get the remaining grit off your hands.
11. After you exfoliate the underside of your hands, rub your palms with a makeup wipe to remove the exfoliator. The last thing you want to do while allowing your self-tanner to dry and develop is get your skin wet, so a makeup wipe is a good option to clean your palms a bit. Kristyn also suggests using a facial toner such as , which contains alcohol, to help remove any tanner from your palms.
12. Use a cotton swab or makeup wipe to remove the tanner on your nails and cuticles. The trick to making your hands look flawless is to apply lotion over them so they don't over-absorb tanner, apply the self-tanner carefully and evenly, and then go back and remove the product from certain areas, like your fingernails and cuticles. One by one, gently rub each nail bed and cuticle with a wipe or cotton swab until the product is gone to prevent orange hands and fingers.
13. Instead of waiting for your tanner to dry when you're in a hurry, lightly blast your skin with the cool setting of your blow-dryer to speed up the process. This is so much easier than standing in your bathroom naked and waiting for your tanner to dry.
14. Lightly pat areas such as your armpits, elbows, and knees with a talc-free baby powder to prevent the product in those areas from creasing. After your self-tanner is dry and before you put your clothes back on, dust on some powder to keep your skin from sweating off your tanner as it develops.
15. Use a self-tanner with SPF when you're outside, so you can protect your skin while still getting a nice "tan." Try or so you can get the best of both worlds.
16. If self-tanner intimidates you, try body makeup that washes off. Body makeup and bronzers are great for evening out the skin on your legs and arms, and giving you an instant glow. If you'd like a tan but only need it for a day or so, use body makeup or a body bronzer instead of a self-tanner. Some products such as (what they use on Sports Illustrated models) can even withstand water. At the end of the day, rinse it off with soap and you're back to your makeup-free skin. Try , , or .
17. Use baby body wash and oil-free lotion to maintain your tan. Oil-based products will make your fake tan fade faster, so skip all products with oil while trying to preserve your tan. Also, stay away from exfoliators and opt for gentle cleansers to allow your tan to fade evenly and naturally. And if despite all of these tips you do end up with some streaking, try wiping the area gently with a to even it out a bit.