Easy Steps For a Flawless Self-Tan

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Thank goodness we no longer need to bake ourselves under the sun for a sun-kissed glow. These days, self-tanners are easy to use and give a beautiful faux tan that will not leave you looking like an orange and streaky hot mess. We chat with Sinead Norenius, founder of Beautisol and SelfTanningQueen.com, on her tips for a flawless self-tan at home.  

HOW TO Flawless Self-Tan

  1. Patch test Like any new product you try, always do a patch test on your skin before applying the formula all over your face and body. Many self-tanners have chemical fragrances which can be irritating . To patch test on a discreet area, apply a small amount to the inside of your thigh or arm. 

  2. Shower & exfoliate Shower and exfoliate your body and face before using a self-tanner.  "Use a scrub that is water-based, a glove, or a loofah to exfoliate," says Sinead. "Using an oil-based scrub leaves a residue that will interfere with the active ingredient in the sunless tanning products, dihydroxyacetone." Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is a colorless chemical that interacts with dead skin cells to produce the brown shade. After your shower, pat your skin dry and do not use moisturizer on your skin. DHA is attracted to dead skin, so for better penetration of the product, your skin should be dry. 

  3. Choose shade Some sunless tanners offer shades in light, medium and dark. But surprisingly, Sinead suggests that even fair skin Beauties use a darker shade: "Someone who uses self-tanners all the time can use any shade they like. But for a novice, pick a product that has a dark dye. No matter the color of your complexion, when you use the darker sunless tanner, you'll be able to see where the product is and isn't being applied. A product like Beautisol Dark Tanning Lotion Summer Glow will work beautifully on everyone. If you use too light of a self-tanner, you won't be able to see where you're applying it and can end up with streaks. But if you do use a lighter shade, just make sure to apply it evenly. For a natural glow, stay within two to three shades of your natural skin tone. You want to enhance your coloring, not look like Snooki!"

  4. Bottoms up Sinead suggests wearing tight-fitting gloves when you apply self-tanner. "Some people will wash their hands after applying self-tanner all over their body but they don't realize that their hands heat up the product and mush the color into their palms and fingertips. Be sure to choose a glove that fits you like second skin. If the gloves are too loose, you can get streaking on your body," she says. Start applying the tanner from your legs up, standing the entire time. "Apply the tanner section by section. Start with your lower legs and feet, up to your upper thighs and rear, up to your abdomen, chest, and back, to your shoulders and arms. The last area you should cover is your hands. You start from bottom up to avoid weird tans in the skin folds as you're maneuvering around." After you finish your body, take a dry towel and lightly buff at your knees, elbows, and knuckles since these areas tend to grab hold of more color.

  5. Hands To tan your hands, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and pat them dry. "Curl your hands in a claw motion and lightly rub the tanner in on the back of your hands," says Sinead. "Just make sure you wipe away any product from palms."

  6. Face time Use a self-tanner specifically formulated for your face because body formulas tend to have a heavier consistency and may lead to breakouts. Make sure you apply an even distribution all over you face. If you have bleached eyebrows or hair, protect the area by applying a thin coat of light moisturizer over the hairs and into the hair line. Sinead likes to apply face self-tanners "war paint" style. "I apply stripes all over my face and chin and lightly rub them in with circular motions. Just be sure to get the back and tip of your ears too. If you have sensitive skin, Beautisol has face tanners for normal-dry-sensitive skin types and normal-oily-problematic skin types."

Tips What do after your flawless self-tan

  1. Oh no, streaks & wrong shade! If you notice streaks on your body or are unhappy with the shade of your tan, you can fade the tan faster. Sinead suggests a long soak in the bath. "Imagine yourself as pan with rice scorched in it. You can either scrub the bottom like crazy with a steel sponge, which will be effective but scratch the surface. Or you can soak the pan in water and gently use a sponge to take off the burnt pieces." The same concept applies to your skin. "Soak in the tub for about 20 minutes, and gently buff your body with exfoliating gloves or scrub, starting at your feet and working your way up." Follow with a light moisturizer and repeat the process the next day if you're still unhappy with the color. 

  2. Maintain your tan After you step out of the shower, gently pat your skin dry and avoid rubbing your body or face roughly. Use a light moisturizer. If you use too heavy of a lotion, it will start to soak in your skin and dissolve the tan quicker. 

  3. Quick showers & dips Sinead suggests avoiding hot showers and long dips in the bath or pool. "The longer you stay in water, the faster the tan will fade since you're soaking off the dead skin cells. Dip in the pool or bath for a few minutes and pat yourself dry," says Sinead.

  4. No hair pulling Do not wax, thread or tweeze at least 24 hours before using a self-tanner. "If you leave the hair follicles open, the DHA can pool inside the follicle and create dark spots. If you shave, do it a couple hours before using a self-tanner."

Sinead Norenius is a sixteen-year beauty industry veteran and licensed esthetician who founded and formulated Beautisol, the trusted leader in sunless tanning and sun care. Sinead is committed to educating consumers about beauty through social media, online how-to videos and simple step-by-step directions and inserts for all of the Beautisol products. Sinead is also the Editor-in-Chief of SelfTanningQueen.com, a leading beauty blog.
For how-to videos on how to self-tan yourself, be sure to check out Beautisol tutorials here.

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