Sunless tanner can be a tricky thing: There’s a fine line between “bronzed beauty” and “the next Jersey Shore cast member.” With a few simple tricks and tips, though, you’ll be on your way to looking bronzed and beautiful without looking streaky and orange. Here’s how you can avoid sunless tanner slip-ups.
Step 1: Start small
If this is your first time applying sunless tanner, don’t go from pale skin to a deep, dark tan overnight. To avoid initial slip-ups, go for a light or medium shade. Or, if you feel like taking extra precautions, try using a gradual tanning lotion instead. That way, any mistakes you make are minor in comparison to the skin-staining nature of sunless tanners.
Step 2: Prep your skin
Exfoliation is crucial to achieving a smooth surface for applying sunless tanner. Grab your loofah and skin-smoothing body wash, hop into the shower, and exfoliate every inch of your body. You don’t want your sunless tanner to grab hold of dead skin cells and make you look like you have patches of dark brown freckles. Shave your legs if you have especially coarse hair; sunless tanner can settle into the small grooves of skin covered up by hair.
Step 3: Be prepared
Sunless tanner can stain everything in its path. Be sure to lay down an old towel to avoid carpet stains. Use thin plastic gloves for application so you don’t end up with orange-stained palms.
Step 4: Application
Sunless tanner is not like lotion, so don’t treat it as such. Begin by applying the tanner evenly with small, circular movements. Be especially careful around elbows, knees and ankles, as these parts tend to absorb tanner easily, leaving behind large brown patches. Go light. You shouldn’t feel weighed down and greasy.
When you think you’re done applying, use clean gloves to go back over body parts where your skin naturally fades. Blend around your forearms and ankles to get a naturally sunkissed glow. Let it fully absorb into the skin before you put your clothes back on to avoid stains.
Step 5: Clean up
Now that you’re on your way to being a bronzed goddess, make sure you’re not bronzed in the wrong places. If you didn’t use gloves, wash your hands thoroughly to avoid unsightly orange palms; washing with whitening toothpaste or lemon juice will help remove stubborn color. Be sure to let the sunless tanner settle into your skin for at least six hours to get the full bronzing effect.