Plastic Surgery & Cosmetic Center

Expert Advice: How to Apply Self Tanner

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Expert Advice: How to Apply Self Tanner

At Janiga MDs Dermatology, we highly recommend all our patients wear sunscreen to avoid the harmful affects of the sun’s rays on the skin. In my last post, I shared my tips for getting a summer glow without the damage, and in this one I wanted to go into more detail on how best to apply self tanner to achieve that summer look.

Self tanner can be an amazing and healthy way to achieve the look of a summer tan without the sun, but it does take some finesse to applying it correctly and avoiding potential pitfalls such as streaking, unnaturally looking discolored hands, and dark creases.

Tips on How to Apply Self Tanner

1. Plan to set aside ample time to apply the solution correctly. Ideally, one should allow about two hours for the initial application and as you become more proficient the process may be completed in a half hour to an hour.

2. Take a shower or bath and exfoliate your skin while bathing.  By exfoliating the outermost layer you ensure that the self-tan will interact with a fresh layer of skin and therefore last longer.  You may also shave while bathing, which will result in both a smoother feeling and smoother appearing tan after the application. After bathing, it is important to dry off completely because your skin must be free of moisture to best absorb the self-tanner.

3. One of the keys to avoiding the pitfalls of streaking and dark creases is to massage regular lotion into the knees, elbows, feet and hands before applying the self-tanner.  I also recommend an extremely gradual application of the product as an extra precaution against streaking.

4. When applying the tanner you should either wear latex gloves or be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water during and after the application. If you choose to not wear gloves, some suggest setting a timer and washing your hands and scrubbing your nails every five minutes to avoid staining of the hands.

5. Always apply the tanner in a circular motion taking care to not miss any area of skin, which may leave a blemished or spotty look.  When doing your feet, spread the tanner downward from your legs onto your ankles and the tops of your feet, using a minimal amount in this area.

6. Do not apply tanner to your toes, heels, or the sides of your feet and remember to apply tanner only sparingly to your face and neck as that skin darkens more easily than the rest of the body.  Don’t overlook the back of your neck, especially if you have short hair.  Most people do not have tanned underarms but it is difficult to avoid that area so after applying the tanner wipe them off with a wet wash cloth.

7. After you have completed the application, lighten the trouble spots by using regular lotion on the tops of your feet, ankles, side of the feet, toes, knees, and elbows. It is particularly important that you apply this lotion to any area that creases with movement, such as the inside of the elbow, under your breasts, and the crease at the back of the knee.

8. Finally, just wait quietly and avoid physical contact with anything and anyone for at least 15 minutes. Ideally it is recommended that you not get dressed for an hour, but if this is inconvenient, put on a loose fitting piece of clothing.  Try to avoid contact with water or sweating for 3 hours and if possible avoid showering or bathing for at least 8 hours.

Bonus tip

There is no need to concern yourself with the borders of your lips or nipples as these areas are naturally minimally affected by self-tanner. Freckles, sun spots and moles are likely to darken along with your skin as are stretch marks, especially if they are less than three years old.

Follow my tips for applying self tanner and you will have an even, gorgeous glow without any risk to your skin. For more on which self tanning products I recommend, read my post about how to get a summer tan without the damage. 

Cheers to extending that summer tan!

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