It’s time to switch to self-tan! Did you know that cancer of the skin is the most common type of cancer? While melanoma isn’t the most common of the skin cancers, it is the most dangerous. There are many risk factors to getting melanoma, besides sun exposure, but sun exposure does increase your risk, even if you apply sunscreen! So, why would you take the risk?
Growing up in California, I was constantly outside tanning, without sunscreen. I would even go to multiple tanning beds a day, trying to keep up the California glow, including when I moved away for college. A few years ago, I noticed that I suddenly got freckles all over my shoulders, and a mole that started changing shape and color. This prompted me to go to the dermatologist- something I had never done.
Luckily, the melanoma was only superficial-on the surface of my arm- and only required removal. After this experience, I said I would never get in a tanning bed again, and started becoming more proactive about taking care of my skin. My skin has became aged, especially on my face, because of all the unprotected UV light exposure. I started seeing a dermatologist regularly, started getting facials, use sunscreen, and only use self-tanner.
I know self-tanner isn’t the same as a sun-kissed tan, but there are ways to make your self-tan natural! In order to encourage you to step away from the tanning bed, I want to give you a step-by step on how to get a tan that looks natural, and WITHOUT harming your skin!
Step 1: Pick the perfect self-tan product
First things first, you have to pick the products that work well for your skin type. I like to use a mousse, because it spreads more evenly, whereas a spray may leave streaks or streams. I buy Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Moisturizing Lotion (The name is deceiving-it is a mousse) in Deep Bronze, and it’s only $13. I have an olive complexion already, so this color works for me. If you are fair or don’t have a base tan, I suggest using a lighter and more gradual shade. The brand I use only offers a few shades, and I would suggest testing out different brands and shades before you commit to buying one. I also suggest buying a self-tanner that dries quickly, so it doesn’t rub off onto anything.
Step 2: Pick the perfect exfoliant
You absolutely need something to exfoliate your skin. This is a very important step, because the tanner clings to dry spots. It’s best to find a technique to exfoliate that works for your skin type. For example, my skin is dry and exfoliating too much may make my skin dryer.
Step 3: Pick an application tool
You need an application tool to apply the tanner onto your skin. I use a mitt, but the BeautyBlender is supposed to work very well to avoid streaks. I would treat your application tool decision like how you chose your self-tanning product. You want to make sure you don’t get globs of tanner everywhere, and you don’t want tanner on your fingers.
Step 3: Shave
Think of it as starting with a blank canvas- we want to start with blank, fresh skin, so the tanner sticks to our skin, rather than the hair. Also, you don’t want to shave after, because it will shave off your tan. Waxing is actually a great alternative, if you do get stubble back after you achieve your self-tan. It will allow that great hue to stick around for much longer!
Step 4: Exfoliate
Even if you can’t see it or don’t feel dry, you have a dead layer of skin cells. The most important part of self-tanning is to exfoliate all the dead skin, in order to ensure you don’t have tanner cling to those patches. Find the best exfoliating tool that works for you. I like to use the tool above, because I have such dry skin, and it seems to buff out those areas.
Step 5: Moisturize
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! I have very dry skin, so it is important that I moisturize after, especially since tanner does stick to those dry spots. Your elbows, knees, hands and feet tend to be the driest areas of your body, so it is very important to focus on those. Since these areas are drier, they can lead to that ugly orange color we try to avoid! Don’t use a heavy lotion, though, or else the tanner won’t stick to your skin. Use a light moisturizer, such as a gel moisturizer.
Step 6: Apply
Apply in sections! I start from bottom to to-starting at my calves, spreading the tanner up and down, in somewhat circular motions, avoiding my knees and ankles. I move up to my waist, back, arms and shoulders. There is usually some excess on the mitt, and I save that for step 8!
Step 7: Rinse your hands/feet!
I’ve found that facial soap actually does wonders for removing self-tanner off your hands. Be careful when you wash your hands, because if you rinse off the tanner from the back of your hands, it will look like you were wearing gloves.
Step 8: Touch up
To touch up your hands-Put a small amount of mousse on the back of one hand, then rub the back of both hands together. Use the excess product on the tool for your feet, knees, elbows and I even us it for my face! This may also be a great time to check your wrists- this area tends to turn orange, and streaks, especially if you have wrist creases.
Step 9: Don’t shower!
I know it’s hard to fight the urge to wash off the tanner-I hate feeling like I have anything on me, especially if it is sticky or slimy. The longer you leave the tanner on, the darker the tan. If you are using a gradual tanner, you want to leave this on as long as possible to allow it to set.
Step 10: Moisturize!
Your skin exfoliates itself, and may rid the tanner naturally. To keep your tan, it’s important to stay moisturized!
I know this may sound like a lot of work, but I promise it is much better for your skin. If you take care of your tools, you won’t have to buy them multiple times, making it a lot less expensive than going to a tanning booth! If you already self-tan, what are your favorite self-tan products and tools?
Can’t decide what to get? Here are the top 5 self-tanners based on reviews: