Many years ago, I worshiped the sun. I spent my summers at the beach, frying my delicate skin to a dark crisp. I recall using items like baby oil to get myself even more tan. Now that I am older, I am starting to fight that never ending battle against aging. My biggest fear is getting those deep-set wrinkles that don’t ever go away. Unfortunately, I am white. I don’t mean porcelain, pretty French girl white. I mean hospice patient, hasn’t seen the sun ever white. But that is not any secret. If you have seen any photos of me on the blog lately you know this. My real secret is that I never tan. I am horrible at it. I don’t turn a lovely brown shade, I turn a weird shade of red (yes, even non-sunburned). So why bother? I will just end up like a scarlet colored alligator handbag!
Like everyone else, I just want to look bronzed and healthy. So how can I get there without becoming said handbag? By using self tanner. Now, there are a lot of ways to do this: spray tan, air brushing or DIY lotions. I have never had luck with the spray tans, always walking away with spots I missed blotting. I love air brushing, but it can get pricey if you do it enough. So, I find myself, summer after summer, rubbing on my own golden bronze color.
Now, I get a lot of questions about how I do it, since it is not easy at first. There is always the risk of turning orange or looking like someone who just stepped out of a Jersey Shore episode. But after several years, I find myself bronzing with ease, not even having to think about the steps I take anymore. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. So here are my tips for being a successful self tanner. I hope they make your self tanning journey golden.
- Don’t drink wine (or any other alcohol) first. I learned this lesson the hard way. Two years ago, I thought it would be a good idea to apply self tanner after enjoying a glass (or more) of wine. It was not a good idea. Thank God for maxi dresses, because I had streaks and hand prints all over my legs. I was lucky my upper body remained mostly normal. My co-workers thought it was hi-larious. Ok, it really was. God bless the maxi-dress is all I am saying.
- Do it at night. Yes, most tanners say “Apply me and you can go on with your day in 15 minutes.” I say “Shenanigans.” Apply your tanner before bed, sleep in a long sleeved shirt with long sleeved pants you don’t care about getting junky. Some of the tanner will rub off on them. You will also see it running off your body in the shower the next morning. Don’t freak out by the brown water. Your tan is not washing away, just some of the extra residue.
- Put on gloves. Seems common sense right? If you want to avoid orange palms, put on latex gloves. You can purchase them super cheap at Target and one box will last a while. I never suffer from discolored palms. Second tip: Put a small dollop of tanner on the back of one hand after removing the gloves and rub your hands together, getting between the fingers, etc. Do not forget to occasionally bend your knuckles when rubbing to avoid weird white spots on your hands.
- Moisturize. A lot. Again, seems common sense right? If you want an uneven tan which rubs off in weird patches, skip moisturizing. If you want a tan that lasts longer and is more even? Moisturize. Important note: do not moisturize immediately prior to applying self tanner, except in dry areas you do not want to absorb too much tanner. Examples of these places are the knees, elbows, and the back of your ankles. Remember to use the lotion sparingly and just on the driest areas.
- Exfoliate. A lot. This is a similar tip to the one above. This helps your tan apply and fade more evenly. I try to exfoliate a couple of times before applying my first coat of tanner and again a couple days after. Some products I use for exfoliating are body scrubs, either homemade or store bought, a loofah, and a nail brush. These will all come in handy before and after applying tanner.
- Use high quality products. I cannot stress this enough. Use a good product. Yes it will cost you some money, but this is one of the biggest things which makes a difference between rolling in Doritos and looking sun kissed. High quality products will look bronze not orange. The better self tanners will also wear off more evenly, in most cases without simply rubbing against your skin (like some Jergens products which shall not be named). My favorite is Xen-Tan Dark Absolute Luxe. It has a great olive undertone which avoids the Dorito color often seen in self tanners. I have friends and family who swear by St. Tropez tanning products as well.
- Practice follow up care. Continue to exfoliate and moisturize. This will help to ensure your tan fades evenly and smoothly, as well as makes reapplication a snap. I usually wait a day or two after application to exfoliate again. If you use a body scrub that moisturizes (like a homemade scrub with coconut oil), that is very helpful.
- Bring in back up. I am not a contortionist. I cannot reach my back. Hubby is my designated back up tanner. He graciously dons the gloves and helps a wifey out. I have also used friends and family to get my hard to reach places. There are tips and tricks to getting your back done solo, but I don’t trust myself to be successful at that.
- Seriously, don’t drink wine first. I cannot stress this enough. Feel free to get crazy afterwards.
- Don’t let your kids catch you. There is nothing worse than standing naked in your bathroom, wearing gloves, rubbing yourself down and having your child walk in on you. I think Biggest may now be traumatized. Either that or she is spending the rest of her night questioning my sanity.
Now go forth and bronze!