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So, you went out and purchased that much-hyped bottle of self tanner. After reading the instructions multiple times, you started the process. Then, wham! You looked down and noticed that the color of your arms, legs and feet were uneven and blotchy.
We can certainly relate to this mishap. But with the proper technique and tools, you can avoid looking like a self-tanning amateur. That's why we went straight to Laura Wood, the lead aesthetician at Spa Bellagio in Las Vegas, and Chasidy McDowell, a Los Angeles-based celebrity spray tanning specialist, for their best fake tan tips.
1. Be sure to wax or shave, get a mani and pedi, or book your hair color appointment before self-tanning.
The ingredients and chemicals often used for these salon treatments can remove self-tanner. Save yourself the headache and money by primping and grooming first.
2. Always, always, always exfoliate prior to applying self-tanner products.
"This is so important because it removes any dead or dry skin and prevents the tan from becoming blotchy or even darker in some areas," said McDowell. You can make your own homemade scrub or try one of these 20 body polishers to soften your skin from head to toe.
3. Then, prep extra dry and calloused areas with a thin layer of lotion.
Wood recommends applying moisturizers as a barrier cream, especially on the soles of the feet, palms, knuckles and hands, to protect these parts from absorbing too much tanning product.
4. Choose a self tanner based on your skin tone.
Keep in mind that it usually takes more than one application to reach your desired faux glow. If you are fair-skinned like Taylor Swift or Emma Stone, pick a light-to-medium formula. If you have an olive complexion like Jessica Alba or Kim Kardashian, you should opt for a darker formula.
5. Wear latex gloves or mitts and work your way up from the bottom.
Many people start by applying lotion from top to bottom, but you should always start from your legs and go up, according to McDowell. "This will prevent any lines, and remember, less self-tanner is more," she said. A teaspoon of self-tanning gel or lotion is an ideal measurement. And Wood believes it is best to apply in long, fluid strokes focusing on one body part at a time.
6. Sprinkle on powder after drying to set the self tanner.
"Allow yourself to dry for about 10 minutes and then apply a talc-free powder all over your body. This will help to prevent tanner from transferring onto your clothes and will also take the sticky feeling away," said McDowell.
7. Buff away any streaks or lines with a body scrub.
Mistakes happen, but you can easily remove streaks or lines by scrubbing with good old baking soda or rubbing lemon on the area then gently wiping with a damp towel. There are also a few tan remover products on the market, including St. Tropez's Tan Optimiser Remover.
8. Avoid steamy hot showers and baths, oils, and products with retinols or salicylic acids as they can cause your tan to fade.
Don't shower for six to eight hours after you've completed the sunless tanning process. To prolong the life of your fake tan, Wood suggests washing with a gentle cleanser, patting dry with a towel and keeping the skin hydrated by applying a daily moisturizer.