Friday, June 10, 2011

Tips & Tricks for a Flawless Self Tan

Summer is here, and so is teeny-bikini season. You've been exercising and eating right (well, I know I have) getting ready to tackle the beach and poolside looking good. But, there is one thing you haven't done yet, get a tan. We all want to look tanned and toned in our summer attire, but what's the point of eating healthy, hydrating, and exercising (all good for your skin), if you are just going to fry in the sun and cause some nasty damage. Does anyone still need reminding that tanning causes wrinkles and is a leading cause of deadly skin cancer?

You're all smart cookies, so I can't be going out on a huge limb assuming you are diligently using your sunscreen daily (at the very least on your face and chest, right?), and especially when you're lounging out in the sun. That can only mean you're likely as pale as I am and depending heavily on your sunless tanner to help you fake a gorgeous tan. If you are, you've probably had your share of self-tanner struggles, such as:

• Streaking (the bane of most self tanners and a dead giveaway that you faked your bake)

• Orange palms (Me? Self tan? No, I just finished working in the garden and the dirt stained my hands and nails…)

• Uneven tan on your back (I can't reach back there! Go-go gadget arms!)

• Dark patches on your ankles, knees, and elbows

• Funky tanning on your hands and feet (either pale hands and feet or ├╝ber-tanned hands and feet. Both are a self-tanning dead giveaway)

Well, now you can rest easy with some simple solutions I learned from these how-to self tanning videos. You should definitely watch them for great tips to help you with things such as those hard to reach places (ahem, top-middle section of the back). Here are some of the best tips I garnered from watching these videos myself:

Apply self tanner in sections. The best approach is to work your way from the bottom up (legs, mid-section, back, arms). It's best to leave your arms for last so that you can sit still afterwards to let them dry (avoid some streaking).

Use the palms of your hands, not your fingertips, for a more even application. The palms of your hands are broader and will cover more surface area. Your fingers will cause streaks.

Use gloves. Want to avoid stained palms? Go to the beauty supply store and pick up some latex gloves (unless you are allergic to latex, then by all means, stay away, and get a non-latex alternative). Make sure the fit is snug, if they are too big they will shift around when you are applying your tanner and cause streaking.

Apply a thin layer of lotion to ankles, knees, heels, and elbows before starting your self-tan application. Have you been exfoliating these areas only to find yourself tanner still sticks to these areas making them look darker than the rest of your tan? Apparently, the trick to avoiding this is twofold: (1) apply a thin layer of lotion to these areas and (2) apply only the tanning solution that is left over on your hands when you go over these areas. For example, apply tanner to your thighs, and using whatever product is left over on your hands, go over your knees.

Leave your feet for last when applying tanner to your legs. If you don’t want to sport the dirty-feet look, wait until you are done applying tanner to your legs before you tan your feet. Use whatever products is left over on your hands after applying self tanner to your shins and calves and go over your feet. Use a light touch, especially when you get down to your toes. And make sure to get in between the toes! Basically, you want the tan to gradually get lighter (while still giving you color) as you reach the tips of your toes. (Note: The videos demonstrate this very nicely)

Tan your hands by rubbing the backs of them together. Once you take off your gloves (or thoroughly wash your hands if you are skipping the gloves — I suggest using a scrub), pump a very small amount of tanner onto the back of your hand (suggest a half a pump or less), then rub the backs of your hands together. Use a light touch when you reach your fingers, you want the same effect as on your feet (lighter as you get to the tips of your fingers). Don't forget to go in between your fingers too. Also, apply lotion to your nails and cuticles to keep the tanner from tanning your nails or making the skin around them super dark.

Now you are all done! Make sure you let the self tanner dry before getting dressed, and wear loose-fitting clothes while the products processes. It usually takes tanners such as Sun Labs or St. Tropez, four to eight hours to process. In that time, avoid water and sweating. I find tanning works best for me if I do it at night. My pajamas are loose and the tanning solution processes as I sleep. Then the next morning (tada!) I'm tanned and can shower off any excess self tanner so it doesn't rub off on my clothes.

Some of my favorite self tanners include: Jergens Natural Glow in the Express formula (for when you need a tan in 3 days flat - or faster, I was pretty darn tan by day two, day three was a bonus) and the Foaming formula, St. Tropez, and Sun Labs.

Check out this article from Bella Sugar for extra tips, which is where I found out about the fabulous how-to videos.

Do you have any special tips or tricks you use to get a fabulous self tan? Please share if you do, or if you used any of these with success. I know the tip for applying tanner to the hard to reach places on your back really worked for me (that one is in one of the videos, you have to see it, it's hard to describe in written form), and so did the tricks for tanning the hands and feet.

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