How to Get the Perfect Fake Glow With Self Tanner

Secrets to applying bronzer for a streak-free summer tan!

I know, I know. A summer tan seems like the perfect accessory. But the sun’s rays do more long-term damage to your skin than I care to share right now (I’m talking horror stories littered with sunspots and wrinkles, people), so you’re already on the right track if you’ve bought a bottle of bronzer. Seriously- bronzer is way better for your skin than UV rays, and bonus: there’s no threat of burning! Now, the tricky part: applying that bronzer so it actually looks like a real tan, and not a messed up Jersey Shore reject.

It’s possible, ladies, to get an even better bronze from a bottle. I’ve done it. All it takes is some time, patience, and the right tools. Let’s get started.

1. Choosing the right shade of bronze.

First off, you have to choose the right shade. If you’re paler than Avril Lavigne but want a tan that makes you look like you’ve been sunning in the Greek Islands all summer, you just can’t get that all in one application. Self-tanners come in a variety of shades. If you’re super light, don’t buy one that’s for darker skin! Start off with a lighter shade, and build from there.

2. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate.

Don’t even try to apply self-tanner without exfoliating first. You will regret it. You will have streaks. You will have awkward patches of tan skin and dark skin. You will not like it, and you will regret going the self tan route. Exfoliating is so, so important, so don’t skip this step for the sake of saving time. I suggest getting an exfoliating glove from the drugstore makeup aisles and scrubbing your entire body with that, in the shower, first. Concentrate especially on your knees and elbow- these are places where dry skin tends to build up, and as a result, fake tanner is harder to apply here. Make sure you buff yourself in circles. Oh, and don’t go too hard on your skin. If it’s getting red, or if it hurts, you’re going too hard. Once you’re nice and buffed, step out of the shower, pat yourself dry, and get to work.

3. Shave your legs.

Shaving your legs is a great exfoliater, and it will help your bronzer go on easier. It will also help your fake tan last longer, because shaving or exfoliating after you’ve applied the product can cause it to fade.

4. Use a mousse.

I prefer self tanners that are in mousse form. They’ve just always worked better for me, they’re easier to spread, and it’s fairly easy to see where you have and haven’t applied it afterwards. This is a huge help for preventing dark spots and streaks.

5. Apply in layers… even layers!

Self tanner isn’t like moisturizer. You can’t just apply as many layers as you want right off the bat. Apply one layer to your entire body, then apply the second layer to your entire body. Avoid applying multiple layers to your arms, and then mutliple layers to your legs. It’s easy to lose track of how many times you’ve gone over a certain area, and that can cause uneven color.

6. Enlist the help of a friend. Or a mom!

Don’t even try to touch your back without someone else’s help. Just like it’s impossible to apply sunscreen to the middle of your back, it will be even more impossible to get bronzer there evenly. Ask someone you trust… who won’t mind that signature self tanner smell.

7. Don’t shower directly afterward.

Ugh, I know. That self tanner smell is kind of gross. But. If you get in the shower too soon after you apply the self tanner, it will fade fast and all your hard work will go down the drain… literally.

8. If you make a mistake… exfoliate it away.

If you happen to over-apply the bronzer, don’t worry. You don’t have to wait a week for the streaks to fade. Just take a warm shower and exfoliate gently with your exfoliating glove. You’ll see the color fade fast, and your natural skin tone will shine back through!