How to apply self-tanners

by Gio

how to apply self-tanners

I have fair skin and I embrace it. It’s beautiful. It’s healthy. It’s natural. Not everyone is happy being pale, though, and getting a tan out of a bottle is safer than sunbathing or using tanning beds which can cause cancer and premature aging. But sometimes applying a self-tanner can go horribly wrong and you can end up with streaks or different colored body parts! Not a good look, is it? To avoid that from happening and get a nice, even tan, follow these steps:


Start by exfoliating in the shower. This will remove all the dead skin cells on the surface that can cause roughness and create a smooth and even surface for self-tanner application. Wait until the room has cooled down before applying your tanning lotion.

Wear tight clothes

When you apply self tanner you should wear tight clothes that show all the parts of your body that you want to tan. For example, if you wanna tan your whole body, wear a bikini, while if you only want to tan your legs and arms, you can wear a sleeveless top and shorts. But whatever you decide to wear, avoid clothes made with nylon fibers or the tanner will stain them permanently.

Wear gloves

Unless you want your hands to be way darker than your skin (it will take a while to get them back to their natural shade), always wear gloves when applying self-tanner. If you don’t wanna use gloves, apply the lotion quickly and wash your hands frequently (about every 5 minutes).


Start with your legs and work your way up to your body, remembering to do your torso before your arms. For the back, you can either ask someone to help you or you can use a sponge paintbrush. Apply the tanner lightly to ankles, feet, elbows, knees, neck and face as you don’t want the color to be too dark in those areas.
To avoid streaking, apply the self-tanner lotion using circular motions and be careful not to miss any spots!

Let it dry

Once you applied the self-tanner, let it dry for at least 10 minutes or longer before you put on some loose clothes. Also, don’t do anything that will make you sweat for at least an hour. That’s because sweat can cause streaking.

Wear sunscreen

Most self-tanners on the markets don’t contain sunscreen and studies shows that DHA, the active ingredient derived from sugar used in these types of products to darken your skin, leaves it more susceptible to free radical damage. For this reason, always apply self-tanner at night if you can and never leave the house without applying suncreen first.

Have you got any additional tips on how to apply self-tanners?

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Tavia April 15, 2010 - 10:42 am

My skin is kind of fair too but I hate applying self tanners. I ocasionally go to so solarium…although I know is not healthy but I just don’t want to get my clothes dirty from those self tanners. 🙂
.-= Tavia´s last blog ..Rouge Bunny Rouge Summer 2010 Makeup Collection =-.

Mika April 15, 2010 - 12:16 pm

You can also apply selftanner with a sponge on the face so you can manage to blend the selftanner into the hairline much better and also the sponge is very usefull when it comes the area betwen fingers. I find that this method doesn’t leave my hand dirty looking after a selftanning “session” 😀
By the way what is you favorite selftanner, i mean do you like the lotion, spray or mousse?
.-= Mika´s last blog ..Sufrageria =-.

beautifulwithbrains April 15, 2010 - 6:42 pm

Tavia, I suppose once in a while it is not too harmful, as long as you don’t become addicted. I hate getting clothes dirty too so, when applying self-tanners, I think it’s best to wear clothes that are old and in a not-too-good condition so if they get dirty or ruined it won’t be so bad.

beautifulwithbrains April 15, 2010 - 6:48 pm

Mika, thanks for the tip. That sounds very handy and will make the tan look more natural I think. To be honest, I rarely use self-tanners, but when I do, I prefer lotions. It seems easier for me to spread it evenly and get a natural looking tan with them.

Connie April 16, 2010 - 6:30 am

this was very helpful!
I prefer skin more tanned. my natural skin color is generally not light but it gets yellow when it’s at its lightest.
.-= Connie´s last blog ..Quick Reviews: MAC Repromotes =-.

beautifulwithbrains April 16, 2010 - 11:13 am

Connie, I’m glad you find it helpful. I’m sure your natural skin color is beautiful, I’m so white I look like a corpse! But I understand why you like skin more tanned. I guess I’m not a huge fan of tanning because very often it can turn really ugly/orangey. But if done well, it looks good. 🙂


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