How to Apply Self-Tanner

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These basic tips will help you apply a self-tanner so you get even coverage and longer-lasting results.

Follow these steps:


  1. Exfoliate. Use a washcloth to exfoliate the skin prior to applying a self-tanner. Using an exfoliating product also will help remove dead skin cells. Spend a little more time exfoliating where your skin is thickest — elbows, knees and ankles.

  2. Dry your skin. Drying your skin before you apply a self-tanner helps it go on evenly.

  3. Apply in sections. Apply the self-tanner in sections (such as the arms, then legs, followed by the torso). Massage the self-tanner into your skin in a circular motion.

  4. Wash your hands after each section. You will avoid orange-colored palms by washing your hands with soap and water after you finish applying the self-tanner to each section of your body.

  5. Blend at your wrists and ankles. For a natural look, you need to lightly extend the tanner from your wrists to your hands and from your ankles to your feet.

  6. Dilute over your joints. Dilute the self-tanner on the knees, ankles and elbows, because these areas tend to absorb more self-tanner than the rest of the skin. To dilute, lightly rub with a damp towel or apply a thin layer of lotion on top of the self-tanner.

  7. Give your skin time to dry. Wait at least 10 minutes before getting dressed. For the next three hours, it is best to wear loose clothing and try to avoid sweating.

  8. Apply sunscreen every day. You still need to protect your skin with sunscreen. Be sure that your sunscreen offers all of the following:
  • SPF 30 or higher.
  • Broad-spectrum protection (UVA/UVB protection).
  • Water resistance.

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