Self Tanner Yays-and Nays

Fool-proof ways to to look believably sun-kissed
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Shave

DO shave! A razor not only slices off stubble-it also sloughs off dead skin cells on your legs, enabling your self tanner to go on more evenly. DON’T lather on moisturizer after self-tanner. This dilutes the formula and can cause it to run and streak. If your skin is very dry, apply your body lotion first, wait five minutes for it to dry, then apply the self-tanner.
Photo by iStock

Exfoliate

DO spend a little bit longer in a steamy shower and exfoliate with a scrub to slough off any dead skin on your arms, chest, feet and elbows. DON’T forget to rinse thoroughly. Leftover grit from a body scrub can inhibit an even application of self tanner. Philosophy Amazing Grace Perfumed Hot Salt Scrub, $25; drugstore.com
Photo courtesy of Beauty.com

Dress Appropriately

DO wear loose-fitting, dark clothes if you’re going to get a professional spray tan. Snug attire may rub off the self tanner, leaving you with a blotchy finish. DON’T wear anything light colored. Many self tanners today have some tint which can rub off and stain pale fabrics. Mossimo Black Women’s Kimona Sleeve Maxi Dress, $25; target.com
Photo courtesy of Target.com

Protect Problem Areas

DO apply lotion to rougher skin on the knees, elbows, and heels. Even if your skin is not particularly dry, these body parts are notoriously parched, making them apt to grab too much color. DON’T use a lotion with any kind of acid (glycolic or alpha hydroxy), as they may interfere with the self tanning process. Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, $10; target.com
Photo courtesy of Target.com

Dry

DO let your sunless tanner dry before dressing. Ten minutes is typically plenty of time. DON’T panic if you’re still a tad sticky after ten minutes. Some products include emollient ingredients such as aloe, which may result in a slightly tacky feeling.
Photo by iStock

Tan

DO use a light hand. A barely-there tan will look refreshed-and you’ll run a lower risk of tell-tale streaks. DON’T use a foam or lotion (the most concetrated formulas) without gloves (stained hands are far from flattering.) Clinique Self Sun Body Airbrush Spray, $20; macys.com
Photo courtesy of Macy's

Tan

DO dabble in something subtler. Lots of body lotion/self tanning hybrids give your skin an understated, healthy glow, a nice option for someone wanting to lose their winter pallor-but not look tan. DON’T apply a formula labeled "dark" if you’re fair-skinned. Even if it’s a body lotion plus self-tanner, you still run the risk of looking too orange. Jergens Natural Glow Revitalizing Daily Moisturizer, $8; drugstore.com
Photo courtesy of Drugstore.com

Moisturize

DO apply moisturizer liberally the day after you use a sunless tanning product. Just like with an old-fashioned UV tan, this helps extend the life of your color. DON’T rub too aggressively with a towel after you shower. To keep from scrubbing off your color, pat yourself dry instead. We like Glowology Opulent Body ($18; glowologyskincare.com)
Photo courtesy of Glowology

Take It Off

DO get rid of any lingering self tanner odor by slathering on a perfumed body lotion or oil-or soaking an oil-laced bath. DON’T forget to buy new self tanner every six months. Just like makeup (and sunscreen), this stuff does expire. St. Tropez Tan Detox, $35; sttropeztan.com
Photo courtesy of St. Tropez

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