How to Self-Tan at Home as Explained by Experts

woman self tanning

Self-tanning at home is the most typical form of self-tanning. So, it’s important you know how to do it right.

Here we cover everything you need to do, both during, before and after self-tanning. These steps covered below will help you to know how to tan at home and some special self-tanner tips than can be used along the way.

Self-Tanning at Home Step by Step

#1 Pre-Care

Any kind of hair removal, manicures/pedicures, hair treatments, and anything similar need to be done prior to the day you intend on sunless tanning at home. This is because all of them work against self-tan and could cause streaks and/or even lift the tan.

Exfoliate or use a cleanser with salicylic or glycolic acid on rough spots such as your heels, knees, ankles, and elbows, to remove any dead skin cells on the surface. Doing so provides a clean slate for the tanner to bind to.

Ideally, this should be done in the shower.

Once you are done it is very important to completely dry yourself because any remaining water will dilute the tan and cause blotches.

It is recommended to moisturize the dry areas you exfoliated prior, as this will prevent those areas from becoming too dark or orange. But keep in mind to not moisturize right before self-tanning. Ideally no moisturizing for 12 hours before self-tanning.

#2 Face First

We recommend you start with tanning your face first. This can be done with your fingers or a make-up brush, the same way you would apply moisturizer or foundation to your face.

Be sure to wash your hands just before and right after too, otherwise, it can be a bit tough to get the spray tan off, especially if it accidentally gets too dark. Hence, you may want to wear gloves to avoid the risk. If your hands do get tanned check our article – how to get a spray tan off your hands.

Apply Vaseline to your eyebrows and hairline so as not to darken hair, which is an absolute must if you have light hair.

Be sure to cover every part of your face with the tanner, including your entire ear, behind it, under your eyes and over the eyelids.   

#3 The Body

After you have finished applying self-tanner to your face, it is more practical to work your way up from the bottom of your body next. This is because to reach the lower part of your legs, if you have any tanner on your belly, it might become streaky when you are tanning the other areas.

We recommend using a tanning mitt on the rest of your body. It makes for a more smooth and gradual tan. Apply a dollop of self-tanner to your mitt and begin applying it exactly as you would when moisturizing your legs, starting from the ankles, and working your way up to the knee.

Once your lower leg is done, use whatever excess tanner is left for your feet. This is a great way to ensure you haven’t applied too much there.

Move on to your thighs, then your bottom, lower back, stomach, chest, shoulders, and underarms. Stop at your wrists and use any excess product for your hands, same as earlier with the feet. Don’t forget to focus on the fingers.  

#4 After the Application

Immediately after application it’s a good idea to not wear any additional clothes for 30 minutes to allow for the initial drying. After the initial drying wear loose clothes as they are less likely to rub and ruin your tan. It’s a good idea to wear darker older clothes as they might become smudged or stained from the self-tanner.  

After this it’s recommended to wait plenty of time for the tan to set and to wait at least 6-8 hours before showering.

Therefore, it is a good idea to plan a time in the evening to self-tan, so that it can develop overnight. 

If you notice any areas come out darker than intended, gently exfoliate the skin next time you shower to lift the tan. But be careful; even certain body wash you use can affect how long your self-tan lasts.

For more information on aftercare, we suggest you check our article on Spray Tan After Care Tips and Tricks.

Interesting Related Questions

Does Fake Tan Age Your Skin?

Sunless tanning involves a process known as oxidation, which could contribute to cell aging. Though, it is still unclear whether the ‘low-level oxidation’ that is self-tanning has any significant relevance.

Do You Self Tan Your Armpits?

Yes you can self-tan your armpits. Though depending on if that area is exposed you might not need to.

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