Fact: Self-tanner can either work for you or against you. But, hey! Who are we tellin’? We’re sure you’ve already experienced the hardships that come along with trying to make a faux tan look like a for real tan. *Sigh* #TheStruggleIsReal. If you’ve attempted this tanning technique and come out perfectly bronzed, sans streaks and orange palm free, you’re a pro in our beauty book! If this isn’t you (yet), you’ve come to the right place. Our step-by-step guide will have you glowing in no time!

Applying Self Tanner

Step 1 – The Golden Rule

Shower. Shave. Exfoliate. All of these must be done before your tanning application in order to smooth away any stubble, dry patches or dead skin that could cause your color to streak. Do this at least a few hours prior or the day before your application because you absolutely do not want to apply tanning solution to wet or irritated skin. To prep, try The Body Shop Fuji Green Tea Body Scrub and use your Clarisonic Device to clear your complexion of any makeup, dull skin and excess oil.  

Step 2 – Hydrate Rough Patches

This step is based on preference and skin type, but if your skin is dry in certain areas — say, knees or elbows — tanning solution will saturate those specific spots and the color will come out extra dark (or orange!). After exfoliating, use a water-based lotion to hydrate your body and ensure an even tan. Then, let it dry completely. Steer clear of moisturizers with oil in them, as they will act as a barrier and keep the tanning solution from sinking into your skin.

Step 3 – The Proper Protection

Dab a bit of Vaseline along your eyebrows to protect them from changing color when you tan your face. Apply a light layer of moisturizer in between your toes and then pull on a pair of tight latex gloves to protect your palms! You might even want to stand on an old towel while doing this to protect your floor or carpet.

Step 4 – Application Technique

Now for the fun part! In long, even strokes, apply the sunless tanner from your ankles and work your way up gradually. No need to aggressively rub the product into your skin, as this will leave you looking streaky instead. Apply less to areas like your knees and elbows, and skip areas where the sun don’t shine (soles of your feet, between toes, between fingers if you skipped the gloves)!

Apply sparingly to your face and don’t forget about your ears and the back of your neck. Using whatever solution is left on your gloves, apply a small amount to the tops of your feet and toes. Remove your gloves and apply a dab of color to the tops of each hand. IF you broke the rules and went gloveless, use a baby wipe or cleansing towelette to remove color from your palms — the color has not developed yet, but consider yourself warned…      

RELATED: Our Top 5 Favorite Sunless Tanners

Step 5 – The Waiting Game

Don’t touch a thing. Enjoy your 15-minutes of nakedness and then you can put on loose- fitting clothes. Avoid contact with water for at least three hours and no working out or showering for at least eight. The best time to apply self-tanner is before bed, so let it dry and hit the hay!

Step 6 – Mistakes & Maintenance

Once you wake up or have let the solution fully develop (at least eight hours), take a lukewarm shower without scrubbing to let the color fully even out. Pat your skin dry and keep it moisturized to maintain your tan for a longer period of time. If you notice any missed spots after your first shower, just apply a small amount of self-tanner to the area again using your gloves and let it dry. It’s normal for most formulas to fade between three to seven days — and that’s when you can start this process all over again!

Still need help? We’ve got 10 more tricks for a perfect tan every time and how to remove self-tanner gone wrong for when your favorite formula goes rouge.

For any other skincare tips and tricks, take a look right here!

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