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How to prepare skin for sunless tanners

Prepping your skin can make the difference between a glorious tan and a streaky mess. We consulted with makeup artists and tanning experts to get the advice on how to prepare your skin for sunless tanners. With these tips and tricks, applying tanning products and keeping your sunless glow will be easy.

Woman shaving legs

Step 1: Skip waxing

“Do not wax the day of self tanning; the tan will not take. You need to wait at least 24 hours after waxing to apply a self-tanner,” explains Kimara Ahnert, makeup artist and owner of the Kimara Ahnert Makeup & Skincare Studio in New York City.

Step 2: Exfoliate your skin

“The most important step in applying self-tanner is prepping the skin correctly. You must exfoliate the area that you are tanning thoroughly before applying the product,” says Tamar Vezirian of Gotham Glow. “Stay away from sugar or salt scrubs that have an oily residue to them. The oil will sit on the surface of the skin and make it hard for the self tanner to absorb.”

The importance of exfoliation >>

Step 3: Shower with warm water

Take a shower with warm water — neither too cold nor too hot — and clean your skin using plain soap (rather than moisturizing body wash) to rinse away any sloughed-off skin.

Step 4: Shave your legs

Even though you shouldn’t wax, you do need to remove unwanted hair. “If you are tanning your legs, make sure you shave them beforehand. This is also a great way of exfoliating too,” Vezirian says.

Keep in mind

Applying self-tanner on top of hair makes for a blotchy tan. Get the closest shave possible before applying any tanning products.

Step 5: Dry off completely

Before applying your self-tanner, dry off completely. Keep in mind that too much moisture causes tanning product to slide right off the skin. Don’t apply moisturizing lotion except in light amounts on your knees and elbows — the areas where tanner generally absorbs too much. This helps stop these areas from getting too dark.

Step 6: Wear gloves

“I like to wear gloves when applying self-tanner,” say Vezirian. “Make sure the disposable gloves are tight on the hands so you have more control over the application. When finished self-tanning the whole body, take the gloves off and apply self-tanner on the hands.”

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For more info on this topic...For more sunless tanning tips, check this out:
How to apply sunless tanners

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