Even if you use a quality prod and know how to apply self-tanner the right way, failing to look after your skin before and after self-tanning can lead to disaster. Generally of the streaky, orange, or ‘whoops, you missed a spot’ variety. Luckily, however, there’s a solution. Sticking with these 10 simple steps, or, as we like to call them, the ‘tan commandments’ of prep and aftercare.
From the best time to shave your pins to the thing you should avoid on holidays, here are 10 before-and-after self-tanning tips to perfect a golden glow. Read on!
What to Do Before Tanning
Following these prep steps will ensure your tan goes on smoothly and evenly, without streaks and muddy areas. But, before learning what to do before self-tanning, why not take our self-tan quiz to find your glow-to-tanning product and shade.
1. Exfoliate all over
A thorough exfoliation is essential for a streak-free, lasting tan. For best results, slough off dry, dead skin cells with an exfoliating mitt or body scrub 12-24 hours before – paying special attention to dry areas like your knees and elbows. Why? Because thirsty spots tend to drink up more than their fair share of tanner. Consider yourself warned.
2. Remove unwanted fuzz
If you prefer your skin smooth and hair-free, make sure you remove any fuzz before applying your self-tanner. Not only will your depilated skin ensure a smooth application, but you’ll also avoid ruining your tan with your razor a day after tanning. To prevent irritation and let your pores close, shave or wax 24 hours before self-tanning.
3. Get clean – really clean
Whether you’re using a tanning mousse, spray or lotion, it’s always best to apply your product to clean, dry skin. This means skin that’s free from oils, moisturizers, deodorant, and perfume. It might seem pedantic, but these things can interfere with your tan’s development and leave you patchy. So, take a shower and gently pat yourself dry. Wait 10 minutes or so until you’re totally dry, and then you’re good to glow.
4. Moisturize before self-tanner
You know how we just said to skip the body lotion? Well, there is one small exception (isn’t there always?). Dry areas like elbows, knees, ankles, and wrists can end up muddy, even with a thorough exfoliation. It’s therefore smart to apply a thin layer of moisturizer to act as a barrier.
5. Grab your tanning tools!
There’s nothing more annoying than stripping down and starting to apply self-tanner, then realising your back tan applicator is in the other room. So, rather than risk a nudie run that might horrify your housemates, make sure you gather everything you need before you get started. Not sure what you need? These are the self-tanning tools we can’t glow without.
And speaking of glowing, if you’re unsure, here’s how to apply self-tanner the right way. You’re welcome.
So, you’ve applied your tan, now what? Aftercare, baby! And yes, it IS just as important as prep.
1. Perfect your rinse timing
Whether you want a light gold hue or are all about that deep, dark bronze, the timing of your post-tan shower is everything. These days, loads of formulas – like our Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam – allow you to control your colour by showering after just 2 hours. Or waiting 8-plus hours for a darker tan.
This is great as it allows you to achieve the darkest colour suitable for your skin tone. It’s a much better option than using an ultra-dark tan on an ultra-fair skin tone. Which will only result in an unnatural orange hue from too much DHA.
So, when trying a new tanner, play around to figure out your ideal rinse time. And don’t freak out if you rinse the guide colour off and you’re not the colour you expected. Most tans will continue to develop for around 8 hours. Even if you rinse much sooner.
@coco_and_eve Replying to @anastasia.phillips Reply to @anastasia.phillips Prolong your tan with 3 easy tips💫 #cocoandeve #selftanning #selftannerhack #tantok #fyp ♬ music for an ant farm - Adam Wright
2. Moisturize like your life depends on it
Tanning is notoriously drying. Selecting a quality product free from nasties will definitely help (hint, hint), but you also need to make friends with moisturizers. Because you’ll be needing it to keep skin soft and nourished, and to prevent an unsightly, unevenly fading tan.
Moisturize your skin once or, if you’re really dedicated, twice a day. The best time is right after showering and when your skin is still slightly damp.
As for what type of product to use, know that moisturizers (and body washes) with ingredients like salicylic acid and retinol can make you fade faster. Our pick is a super-nourishing body butter with coconut oil or shea butter.
3. Don’t forget the SPF!
Newsflash – a fake tan does not mean you suddenly have more melanin or added sun protection. So keep your skin protected against sun damage and premature ageing by applying a broad-spectrum SPF during the day.
@dermdoctor Sunscreen like a dermatologist! #GoodForYouSunscreen @Neutrogena #dermdoctor #Neutrogena #skincare #spf #sunscreen #neutrogenapartner ♬ original sound - Dr. Shah
4. Avoid pools and hot tubs
One thing that will make your tan fade sooner is that hot tub at your holiday resort. Ditto, the pool. Spending a long time in the water, especially chlorinated water, can dry out your skin and cause it to shed faster. This can result in your tan lightening a little earlier than you’d like. Look, we’re not here to be party poopers – so you can totally ignore this tip if you like. We often do!
5. Exfoliate – especially before self-tanning again
Back to your normal pale self and ready to reapply? Make sure you exfoliate away all traces of your previous tan or you’ll risk a dodgy patchwork effect. It might sound counter-productive, but it’s actually a good idea to start exfoliating your skin 3-4 days after you tan. A light exfoliating every second day or so will help your tan look super even and natural – even as it fades.
Written By: Pip Jarvis
Edited by: Iris