You wouldn’t be able to tell by the comments here (hint, hint dear readers), but I have received a crazy amount of in-person and online feedback from friends and acquaintances regarding my TanTowel post from earlier this week. Everyone’s asking how easy they are to use, and just today a coworker commented on my tan and asked for the link to buy some. As a result, and with a nod to the unofficial start of summer this weekend, I’m posting some of my top tips for using self-tanner, of both the towel and lotion varieties.
For any self-tanner:
Invest in a nail brush (or a dedicated toothbrush). Hands are one of the most important places to focus on when applying self tanner. You don’t want them soaking up too much tanner and looking dirty all the time. Sometimes, even after washing my hands, the skin under my nails or along the cuticles turns über-tan from absorbing more than a quick wash removes. I’ve found that hitting the tops of my nails and undersides with a nail brush gets the excess off better.
Wash carefully. When you do the all important after-application hand wash, be gentle. Rub soap onto your hands carefully, focusing on your palms and in between your fingers. Only lightly hit the tops of your hands and fingers to avoid a tan line separating your hands and wrists. Similarly, be gentle with the towel afterward. I lightly blot the tops and bottoms of my hands, then rub my wrists together in a downward motion, encouraging the tanner on my wrists to softly fade in, so the color gradually lessens.
Don’t forget the details. Remember to rub a little tanner between your toes, over your ears, into your hairline and on the back of your neck. It’s easy to forget little spots like these, but hitting them will make for a more natural-looking tan.
Let it dry! Make sure any and all tanner has soaked into your skin before you get dressed. Putting on clothes can cause streaking if the tanner is still wet.
Bring it with you. If you apply your self-tanner before a trip, pack the bottle or an extra towel, even if you feel like it’s flawless. You want to have it there for touch-ups in case you see a spot you’ve missed.
Use every bit of liquid. I’ve found my tan to be more flaw-free if I rub the towel in a circular motion until the it’s just about dried out, and then rub it all over again. I think this helps smooth the tanner and ensure an even application.
Move at a decent pace. With any tanner, it’s tempting to go slowly, but these towels do dry out as they’re exposed to air, so be thorough, but don’t focus on one area for too long.
For Lotion Self-Tanner:
Rub, rub and rub some more. I’ve had the best results when I rub my self tanner in a circular motion until it’s almost totally absorbed by my skin. Don’t just quickly slather it on and move on. Keep going, as you would with hand cream.
If you're nervous, go tinted. Several brands make tinted self-tanners, which are great for beginners. They allow you to easily see any spots you’ve missed.
Use enough. Self-tanning isn’t the time to try and save money by using less. Use as much as you need to coat your body, and get it rubbed in.