How to Prep Your Skin for Self-Tanner
As much as we love self-tanner, it can cause uneven streaks and dark patches if not applied correctly. The key is to prep your skin first.
1. Exfoliate the night before.
L’Oréal Paris celebrity makeup artist Sir John recommends exfoliating the night before applying self-tanner. Doing so can help remove a buildup of impurities and dead surface cells to reveal smooth skin. The smoother your skin, the easier your application will be.
2. Cleanse your skin.
After exfoliating your face and body, follow up with a gentle cleanser and nourishing body wash in the morning to ensure a clean canvas.
3. Moisturize your skin.
While your skin is still damp from cleansing, apply a layer of moisturizer to hydrate your skin. Blend all over your face and body, and pay extra attention to areas of thicker skin like your knees, elbows and ankles. These areas tend to soak up excess self-tanner, so be sure to moisturize thoroughly to avoid unwanted darker patches.
How to Apply Self-Tanner
Now that your skin is prepped, it’s time for the physical application. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind.
1. Make sure your skin is dry.
Is your skin still damp from moisturizing? Hold off for a few minutes before applying your self-tanner. The product applies more evenly on pat-dry skin.
2. Apply in sections.
Don’t dive into it all at once. Apply the self-tanner in sections — arms first, then legs, then torso, etc., — to ensure you’ve covered all areas thoroughly. Once you’ve completed each section, wash your hands.
3. Stay put for ten minutes.
After you’ve coated your skin in self-tanner, wait at least ten minutes before dressing yourself in loose clothing. You’ll want to stay in loose clothing for about three hours to allow time for the self-tanner to settle in without staining your clothes.
Tips for Fair Skin Tones
Those with fair skin should be the most diligent when applying self-tanner. Every missed spot and streak is more noticeable, so it’s important to choose a self-tanner that’s easy to apply. Try L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse. It has a lightweight finish that’s easy to apply for streak-free results and offers a gradual tan. Sir John also recommends the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Towelettes for Body. “The towelettes are literally foolproof — you just use them all over the body for a streak-free tan, plus they are travel-friendly,” he says.
Tips for Medium Skin Tones
Medium skin tones can go in a couple of different directions — up a notch to a deeper tan or a step down for something less committal. If you’re looking to go with the former, try L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Milk in Medium. It’s formulated to provide a buildable, bronze glow that leaves your skin feeling soft and nourished.
Tips for Dark Skin Tones
Darker skin tones have the luxury of choosing from a wider array of self-tanning formulas, such as mousses, lotions, serums, mists and more. Depending on the results you’re aiming for — think: weekend at the beach or a subtle faux glow — you can build layers to your desired bronzing preference. To achieve that lit-from-within glow, we recommend L’Oréal Paris’ Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Serum. This streak-free formula will give you a naturally bronzed glow for up to two weeks. If you want to look extra sun-kissed, try L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-Tanning Lotion in Deep Natural Tan. This vitamin E-enriched lotion will give you a natural-looking, streak-free tan with a subtle shimmer.