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Want the tan without the harmful UV rays? Terrified of a bad at-home tanning experience? Don’t fret! Here are my tips and tricks for a worry-free application :)


  1. Shave/exfoliate

​For an even application, you want to make sure your base is as smooth as possible! This is why shaving and/or exfoliating before applying self-tanner is going to help it go on evenly and smoothly. If you apply tanner over scaley or rough skin, you can end up with a patchy application. 


  1. Skip the lotion

​Using a hydrating body wash after you shave and/or scrub will help restore some moisture to your skin without leaving you greasy. Lotion can act as a barrier between your skin and the self-tanner, preventing it from taking to your skin or developing properly, so its placement is crucial. If you have super rough elbows or ankles, you can apply a super light lotion there (sparingly). But, try to keep your skin hydrated leading up to your at-home tanning date. Avoid lotion, in general, the day of if possible.


  1. Pat dry

​After your self-tanner has been on for the time instructed for the color you desire (express versions can take 1-3 hours, gradual can take 6-8 hours), you’ll need to rinse off the product (and the guide too, if your product has that). Don’t shave or scrub your skin this time– gently clean yourself to make sure the product is off. When you’re done rinsing off, pat yourself dry; you want to avoid harsh rubbing motions so you don’t lift any of the tan or rub some of it off. Once you’re fully dry, you don’t need to worry about transfer or anything like that.  


  1. Apply lotion after

​Now is when you can finally use lotion– I like to use a light lotion after tanning that absorbs quickly. This way I don’t have to work on rubbing it in (I’m super paranoid about disrupting the tan) and my skin gets to finally rehydrate. I’ve also found that applying lotion once fully dry helps lock in the tan and makes it last longer!


  1. Don’t apply the day of something big– do it a day or two before

​Not all tanners work the same for everyone, nor do the same application processes work for everyone. If you’re trying self-tanner for the first time, or a new type, you definitely want to try it out a couple of days in advance on a non-visible patch of skin. It’s good to carry out a test patch before applying all over as it lets you get comfortable with the product and how it applies, develops, and fades. 


My favorite at-home tanner is the St. Tropez Tanning Essentials Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse. It provides a natural, long-lasting tan and the guide is super helpful (don’t let the green color of the guide worry you— it fully rinses off!)

Hi! I am currently a Senior at Boston College studying for my B.S. in Biology on the PreMed track. I am the Social Media Co-Chair for our HC chapter at BC, and I’m also the publicist for the American Red Cross of Boston College.
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