How to get a natural-looking sunless tan
Skip the harmful, aging effects of suntanning and get a natural-looking, safe, sunless tan at home. Follow these simple steps to get a gorgeous faux glow.
Step 1: Shave
Prior to sunless tanning, create a smooth canvas with a close shave. However, you'll want to shave the day before you plan to apply product. Applying sunless tanner right after shaving can cause skin irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Step 2: Exfoliate
This might be the most important step in the process. Exfoliating evens out your skin, which allows the sunless tanning product to go on smooth. Use a gentle exfoliant (think beads, not granules) from head to toe.
Step 3: Moisturize
Dry skin results in a patchy, uneven tan. Apply a thin layer of an oil-free moisturizer. (Oily lotions prevent the tanner from absorbing fully.) Allow it to soak in for at least 10 minutes.
Step 4: Apply
If you're using a gel or mousse, start at your feet and work up slowly. Aim for even product distribution - you can troubleshoot later.
Aerosol sprays are more difficult to control than gels and mousses, but if you don't have anyone to help you apply the product to your back, an aerosol is your best bet. Just be sure to position yourself in front of a large, well-lit mirror.
Regardless of which product you choose, keep a wet washcloth nearby. Wipe product off your palms as you go; orange palms are a sunless-tan giveaway.
Step 5: Contour
Apply a slightly thicker layer of product on areas that would receive more sun naturally. Thicken the line -- again, only slightly -- in an M shape across the top of your cleavage and in a straight line down from under your knees to the top of your feet. Lightly apply a bronzer to highlight your nose and cheekbones. This creates a slim, fresh look.
Step 6: Troubleshoot
Wait at least three hours after applying your sunless tanner before looking for problem spots; it takes that long for the product to absorb fully. If you need to lighten the tan overall, massage lotion into your skin, then gently wipe with a washcloth. Anywhere you discover dark patches, exfoliate to even out the tone. If you wind up with streaks, soak a cotton swab in an astringent toner and carefully dab it along the streaks to balance them with the rest of your skin.
For more sunless tanning tips, check this out:
How to apply sunless tanners