My natural skin tone is a wonderful shade of bright white. While I can usually cover that up with a nice natural tan during the summertime, I have no such shield in the winter. Some people look great with pale, porcelain skin; I am not one of those people. Left to its own devices, my skin looks borderline sickly – which means I’m forced to bring in outside help. I’m generally not a huge fan of spray tans (they’re pricey and always seem to fade in the patchiest ways possible), but I love me some self-tanner.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through my foolproof method to get an even, glowy tan every time.
Step 1: Exfoliate
This step is especially important if you’re applying self-tanner on a regular basis (I try to do it once a week in the winter). Getting all that dead skin and faded tan off is crucial to making your fresh tan look even and smooth, so this step is a must. This Soap & Glory scrub is my favorite – it’s not overly harsh on my skin and smells like maple syrup.
Step 2: Shave
If you shave your body hair, this is the time to do it. Shaving has a natural exfoliating effect, so if you shave immediately after putting on self-tanner it’ll accelerate the fading. Better to start with smooth skin so you can go a bit longer without pulling the razor back out, if you ask me! (Also, would highly recommend using a men’s razor – they’re pretty much the same quality as women’s razors but cost less. #pinktax)
Step 3: Lotion
This is probably the most important step to getting a fake tan that doesn’t turn out splotchy. An hour or so before I plan on putting on my self-tanner, I like to put this Soap & Glory lotion all over. This makes sure that your drier skin doesn’t absorb more tan than the rest of you – orange elbows and knees aren’t a good look on anyone. I give it plenty of time to sink in before applying self-tanner; this is a great time to watch a couple of episodes on Netflix.
Step 4: Self-Tanner
I have been obsessed with St. Tropez self-tanners since high school. I recently fell in love with the dark mousse version – I personally prefer how quickly a mousse sinks into your skin as compared to a lotion. This means you’re not stuck waiting for ages before you can put on clothes because your skin is still sticky. I use a tanning mitt to put this stuff on – it’s way more even than using your hand and only costs a few bucks.
Also, make sure you’re applying self-tanner in a well-lit area. The nice thing about this dark tanner is that you can clearly see where you’ve applied product and where you haven’t, but you need good lighting to catch that. Otherwise, you can end up with a nice tan line down the middle of your arm (been there, done that).
Step 5: Shower
I typically apply self-tanner at night so I don’t have to worry about sweating it off during the day. As a rule, you generally want to shower within 8-12 hours of applying your fake tan. So I’ll hop in the shower first thing in the morning to rinse all the bronzer off, which leaves me with that nice fake bronzy glow. Wait too long to shower, and you’ll sweat off the fake tan in weird places (like the crook of your elbow) – so make sure you do that first thing!
And there you have it: my step-by-step guide to not looking like a ghost this winter!