self-tanning how to

As we say goodbye to our coats, and hello to our shorts, we’ve got one thing on our mind: sunless tanner. We all want that sun-kissed summer glow (minus the skin damage), but sometimes when you aim for bronze, you end up with blotchy orange. Fear not, all ye pale and forlorn, we’ve got the rundown on how to get an expert summer glow.

Exfoliate
First things first: exfoliate. Before you can add a supple summer glow to your skin you need to slough off the dead. This will limit blotchiness and improve your overall tone, making your tan more even.
Avoid using any gritty exfoliants that are salt- or sugar-based on your face. They’re too harsh, and can leave your skin red and irritated. Instead, opt for gentler options like Kiehl’s Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub or Scrubs Trilogy Gentle Face Exfoliant.
Since the skin on your body is less sensitive, try a sugar-based option, like Neutrogena Energizing Sugar Scrub or The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Body Scrub. Pay extra attention to elbows, heels, and knees, as they’re the areas with the thickest and roughest skin.
Moisturize
Before applying any tanner, dab a bit of moisturizer to your driest areas so they don’t over absorb color. This includes your heels, elbows, and knees. We love The Body Shop’s luxe Coconut Body Butter (which smells amazing). It’s also important to moisturize once your tan has set to help maintain your bronze color.
Tan
Now that your skin is prepped, it’s time to tan. This is where the smart get bronze and the misinformed get orange.
In terms of product, we like L’Oreal Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist for its foolproof airbrush application–it gets all the hard-to-reach places. If you’re more comfortable with a wipe, Kate Somerville’s 360 Tanning Towlettes are great, and if tanning lotion is your preference, L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Lotion is a good choice. 
Bronze
The final step in achieving the perfect summer glow is the right bronzer. The perfect bronzer shade is the one that’s closest to your skin’s natural tan. If you have yellow-toned skin, look for a bronzer that has a hint of yellow in the base color; medium or olive skin, pick a bronzer with a warm honey brown tone; and if you have darker skin, look for one that has some redness in it (and no grey), as this will just look chalky.
Three of our favorites are: Lancôme Star Bronzer, Maybelline Fit Me Bronzer, and Laura Geller Bronze & Brighten.
Where will you be sporting this perfect summer glow? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @makeupdotcom!