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How to apply the perfect sunless tan

It’s time to break out that bathing suit! The only snag: You need some color first. Too afraid of the sun? Or mother nature only lets you burn? Sunless tanning is a viable option. Don’t be scared — if you know the tricks, you can come out of a sunless tanning session looking uber fabulous. Need some tips? We turned to the experts and uncovered 9 key pieces of advice that you must know about before your DIY tan.

Woman with Self-TanShave the night before

Ricky Croft, Mystic Tan founder, says, “Shave the night before.” That way there won’t be any lotions or serums still fresh on your skin during the sunless-tanning session. And, your skin will be clean.

Exfoliate first

Marc Harvey, national makeup director for Luminess Tan (the first at-home airbrush tanning system), reminds you to exfoliate first! Have clean skin free of lotions or oils before you start applying any kind of sunless tan. That will ensure that the tan will stick.

Don’t forget about your nails

“Be sure to apply a petroleum-based product to cuticles and nail beds,” Croft points out. That way, you can avoid discoloration in those areas and preserve your manicures and pedicures.

Do it with a friend

Don’t do it alone, says Harvey. Your friend can help you with hard to reach places. “For most even results and finish, use a friend for back and back of legs, for instance.”

Be careful

“Use sparingly around rough and dry areas such as knees, elbows and ankles,” Croft explains. “These areas tend to darken more quickly.” After all, you want to get the most even tan as possible, so you should treat areas of the body differently since your skin has different textures all over. “Use a dry wash cloth to buff areas like the elbows, knees and heels where the self-tanner tends to grab a lot of product,” adds Sinead Norenius, a 14-year-licensed aesthetician who has worked in the skin care industry for years.

Don’t rush

“Take your time!  Don’t try to rush the process,” Croft demands. “Put on one layer and assess the color after four hours.” If desired, Croft suggests to apply a second layer for an even darker result. Then, don’t forget to blend any missed areas.

Consider your cycle

“A lot of people don’t know this, but hormones have an effect on the results of your tan,” says Kelsey Jones, a certified airbrush tanning technician and owner of Lavish Tan. “If you are menstruating or going through menopause, hormones will affect the oil levels your skin produces.” If you skin is more oil at certain times of the month than others it is a good idea to plan your tan around your cycle, Jones points out. “The solution will not take to your skin as well if you skin is oily. It will still result in a beautiful flawless tan but it may not hold as long if your skin is producing more oil than normal,” Jones says. “So ladies, expect your tan not to last as long if you have it applied around the time of your cycle.

Use your eyes

Joanna Vargas, owner of the Joanna Vargas Salon, which offers an amazing Golden Glow Sunless Tan, had to critique photos of celebrities with sunless tans last summer for Life and Style Monthly. What she found? Orange-ish tans with white hands! She thought, maybe that celebrity forgot to reapply after washing her hands too soon? Don’t forget to assess your tan before you move on or stop.

In case of emergency

“OxyClean is your best friend when it comes to brightening your clothes,” says Norenius. It can also help when your clothes are stained by your tanning agent. “In case some of the guide color rubs off onto your whites, use it,” Norenius advises.

More ways to stay bronzed

Getting the perfect bronze glow: How-to keep the bronze glow all year

Fake a tan year-round: Self-tanner tips & techniques

Top 5 bronze beauty products for fall

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