Confession: I’ve always been a bit of a tanning-addict – once the calendar hits June, there’s nothing quite like spending a day at the beach and having the bronzed limbs and flushed cheeks to prove it. But, like many of you, I’ve finally forced myself to admit that extreme tanning is not cool (it’s downright dangerous, in fact), so I’m always excited to learn a few new tricks-of-the-trade to help me fake it. For today’s edition of Pretty Simple, Martha Lynn tells us everything we need to know…

Sunless Tanning 101

  1. Start with a clean canvas!  Shave and exfoliate.  The smoother the skin the better the application (check out this all-natural exfoliant.) If you have a Clarisonic, I highly recommend using it on your face, and the body brush attachment for perfectly primed skin! 
  2. Make sure you are 100% dry! Even just a few drops of water can be disastrous to creating your faux glow.
  3. Moisturize – and make sure to put extra on rough areas like elbows and heels.  Again, the smoother your skin is, the better the tan will absorb.
  4. Working from your feet up, apply self tanner in a circular motion. Instead of applying it to larger areas of skin, focus on  small individual areas so you don’t miss a spot.  For example, instead of focusing on the entire leg, make sure the area from the knee to the foot is perfectly covered before moving onto the next zone.
  5. Dry off!  Don’t get dressed until your skin is completely dry – I often use my blow dryer to speed up this process!
*BONUS:  If your self tanner has a built-in bronzer, it will help you see your application and make sure you don’t miss any spots (most of the bronzer will rinse off when you take your next shower).

Ask Martha Lynn

  • Spray or Lotion?  I use BOTH! I like the spray for my face, neck and for touch ups in between full applications, and I prefer lotion for the rest of the body.
  • Do you tan your face?  Yes! I use a spray called So Bronze (available at my salon Mirror Mirror), and even with my sensitive skin, I’ve never broken out as a result.  You can also mix a bit of the tanner in with your face lotion.  If you have super sensitive skin, be sure to discuss with your dermatologist, or stick to bronzer!
  • What if I mess up?  I like tan towels for blending, or you can combine lemon juice and sugar to create a scrub that will exfoliate your mistakes away.
  • What if I’m nervous about trying out a new brand of tanner? When trying a new formula, try mixing it with your moisturizer to dilute it!  This is also a great option to help prevent too-dark hands and feet.

*title image: Neoretro, layouts by Jennifer Rose Smith

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Martha Lynn