First, this guide is not about tanning beds, booths, nor laying out in the sun. This is a guide to self-tanners, which are proven to be much safer and less harmful than the aforementioned areas not covered in this guide. If you must tan, please take all the precautions you can, including use some sort of sunscreen and go out during hours where the sun is not as strong. Now that we are finished with our PSA, let’s get on to SELF-TANNING!
Get Yourself Ready to Tan | It is important that you appropriate prepare your body to undergo the self-tanning process to maximize the desired results and increase the wear-time of the self-tanner. Most self-tanners only dye the first layer of skin, which means that as cell turnover occurs, your tan will slough off after 3-5 days, depending on the product and the care you take in maintaining your self-tan.
1. Exfoliate in advance. It is important to regularly exfoliate both your face and your body (which I’m sure is often forgotten). A good body scrub is great to rid your skin of dead skin cells and allow newer cells to come to the surface. Several days before you’re ready to begin your self-tanning, it is a good idea to exfoliate every other day (or so).
2. Moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize again. Make sure that you are regularly moisturizing all known dry or rough spots on your body–common areas are places like feet, toes, ankles, knees, elbows, etc. Rougher skin means less surface evenness, and this means the self-tanner may get darker in these areas (which is not always a pretty sight). If you make sure that you are taking the time to keep these bits and pieces their softest, you’ll run into less tanning issues later on!
3. Shave. The more even the skin surface is, the better the self-tanner will apply, adhere, and eventually dye. You will minimize streaks and unevenness in your tan if you shave beforehand. I would recommend shaving shortly before you actually apply the self-tanner!
4. Exfoliate right before you apply. However, unlike exfoliating in the days leading up to application, make sure that you opt for a body scrub that is oil-free–just something simple that has jojoba beads or some sort of exfoliant that won’t leave your legs particularly oily or greasy, because it will interfere with the self-tanner.
5. Plan on at least 20 minutes to apply. You need at least twenty minutes to apply self-tanner from head to toe, and it may be more for those who are not as comfortable with self-tanning. It is a good idea to give yourself an hour or two before you have to leave the house, as I definitely recommend sitting around in ratty clothes while the tan develops (which it should be hour three). Some regular self-tanners prefer to do the whole ritual before bed and then wake up golden.