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Secrets to a Perfect Fake Tan!
Skin & Body
Sunless tanning is the safest and most natural way to get an all-over golden glow. And there are soo many methods to do this, you're guaranteed to find the right one for you. I spoke to Victoria's Secret Makeup Artist Colleen Runne and St. Tropez tanning expert Fiona Locke to dig up the best fake tan secrets known among the Hollywood elite.
Try before you apply
Just like with hair dye, you need to test the shade of self-tanner to make sure it's right for you. Apply it to a hidden part of your body (like your stomach) and wait a day or two. If you like it, then go for it. "It is always best to start with one shade darker than your natural skin tone," Runne says. Try Victoria's Secret Beach Sexy Adjustable Self Tanner with Shimmer, $14, which "allows you to control the amount of color you would like to achieve."
Give yourself enough time
You should plan to tan at least 2 days before a big event, so you can increase the color (if necessary) or fix any mistakes, Locke says. The worst thing that could happen is tanning the morning of, and realizing you are blotchy or orange right before you walk out the door. If you're in a pinch for time, you can dust a bronzing powder on your face and body to create an instant illusion of a tan, Runne says. (Try Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder, $33).
Shave/Exfoliate the Day Before
It's best to shave or wax 24 hours before you tan to avoid irritation, Runne says. Exfoliating your entire body with a soft cotton washcloth or loofah will "ensure an even tan." You can even use a scrub made specifically for use before self-tanning, "which won't contain any oil that will prevent your skin from absorbing tanning product," Locke says.
Also, after you tan, avoid shaving or exfoliating for another day to make sure you don't take off any color, Locke says.
How to prep right before tanning
• You can wear gloves or use a tanning mitt to avoid getting color on your hands. Don't have gloves? Apply Vaseline to your nails, at least, to protect them from discoloration.
• Take off all your clothes and jewelry, and lay out a few old towels to catch any drips or residue.
• Don't forget to moisturize with lotion prior to tanning (especially around your elbows, wrists, knees and ankles) to make sure your skin is hydrated and prepped.
Ready to get tan? Read on for the best methods and get tips for each.
Option no. 1: A spray
This is probably the easiest way to apply the tanner in hard-to-reach places, like your back. "Spray the air directly behind you in a circular motion and immediately walk backwards into the mist. Repeat the process until you get the coverage you want," says Locke. Don't forget to rub it in once you've sprayed it on yourself to avoid streaks. ➡️
If you're looking for a less riskier way to use a spray tanner, you can "rinse out baby wipes or wet ones, allow to dry and then spray the self tanner onto the wipes and apply to the body," Runne says. This will allow for you to build coverage slowly, rather than misting it directly onto your body.
Ones to try: L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Pro Perfect Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist, $10.50 or Almay Sunless Tanning Mist, $4.99
No. 2: A Lotion
The easiest way to apply tanning lotion is to start with your feet and legs, and make your way upward. Use long, smooth strokes and make sure to blend well. Take your time when applying self-tanning lotion -- rushing through it will almost guarantee streaks.
It's very easy to accidentally over-apply, so start with a small amount and then you can gradually build coverage from there. A tanning lotion that is colored, rather than clear, is helpful to see where you're applying, so you don't miss an area and create a streaky look.
Ones to try: Neutrogena Build-a-Tan Gradual Sunless Tanning Lotion, $10 or Fake Bake Sunless Self-Tanning Lotion, $29
No. 3: A Mousse
If your skin is wet or damp when applying tanning mousse, it will result in uneven color. So "skip the moisturizer and apply the mousse to clean, exfoliated dry skin," Runne says.
Mousse will absorb (and dry) pretty quickly, so work fast and be careful not to apply it in the same area more than once. It's a good idea to wear gloves when you're using a mousse tanner, since you won't have time to wash your hands in between strokes.
Ones to try: St. Tropez Whipped Bronze Mousse, $27 or Napoleon Perdis Summer Lovers Self Tanning Mousse, $37
How to Tan Your Face
The face is usually the hardest (and scariest, for some) area to apply self-tanner to. Check out these helpful tips from Runne and Locke:
1. Pull your hair back into a ponytail, and then apply eye cream to the area beneath your eyes to avoid darkening the area.
2. Combine equal parts of your self-tanner with your facial moisturizer, and mix it well in your hand (or try a product like Clarins Bronze Self-Tanning Tint, $33).➡️
3. When applying the tanner, avoid slathering it on in one big layer, Locke says. Instead, start on the apples of your cheeks and blend up toward the outer corner of your eyes in a circular motion. Then blend it into the rest of your face -- "don't forget your ears," Runne says.
4. Once the color develops, you can follow up with bronzer. Apply it where the sun would hit you, like on your cheeks, nose, chin and forehead.
What to do When You're Finished
• Wash your hands well with soap (even if you were wearing gloves -- the color can seep through and stain your hands).
• Allow your skin to dry for 15 to 20 minutes before dressing, and don't wear white clothing for the rest of the day, Runne says.
• Don't exercise or go swimming for the rest of the day. Excessive sweat can rub off your tan before it sets.
How to Maintain & Enhance Your Tan
Applying a moisturizer with a little bit of self-tanner in it daily will help prolong your tan. Self-tanner usually does not provide sun protection, so make sure you continue to apply sunscreen to avoid getting a sunburn on top of your gorgeous tan (so not attractive).
You can enhance your glow by applying a skin illuminator to your face, neck and body.
try The Body Shop Vitamin E Illuminating Moisture Cream, $18.50). Then sweep bronzer into the hollows of your cheeks and dust your face with a shimmery powder like Physicians Formula Bronze Booster Glow-Boosting Sun Stones, $14 to bring out your glow
If You Want to Fade Your Tan More Quickly
If you want to get rid of your tan or make it a few shades lighter, here are a few ways to fade your tan fast:
• Shower and exfoliate -- a lot.
• Take long baths (with some buttermilk in the water) to soak your tan off more quickly.
• Dilute a cup of yogurt with water and rub it into your skin, and then rinse it off.
• Soak a cotton ball in lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide and sweep it over the areas you want to lighten.
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