Tips for the Perfect Self Tan

As I’m sure you’re all aware, the sun is returning to South Bend once again and summer break is fast approaching. Along with thoughts of warmth, the beach, and the changing of the seasons comes the desire for that natural bronzed glow. Lucky for me, I’m Italian, which means I had a fifty percent chance of getting the good gene that allows me to achieve a golden tan in only a matter of hours. Unlucky for me, I got the bad Italian gene of delicate olive skin that refuses to tan and loves to burn. So if you’re like me, the idea of tanning may not seem so enticing to you! Don’t worry, though, this article is exactly what you need.


With a series of experiences of painful burns comes the realization that a natural tan may not be what I’m looking for. After all, my skin will only thank me later for protecting it from the harsh sun rays all these years. Why not get the look without the damage?


Well, there is a risk associated with using self-tanner if not done correctly. Skin can appear blotchy or streaky, so there are a few rules I’ve learned that you’d want to follow when trying to create the perfect fake tan:

  1. 1. Shave/Wax First

    It’s important to get all maintenance out of the way before applying whatever self-tanner you choose to use. When you remove hair from your skin, whether that be by waxing or shaving, surface skin cells are also removed. If you apply self-tanner before shaving or waxing, you risk removing some of the color along with those skin cells and ending up with streaks or blotchy areas!

  2. 2. Exfoliate Exfoliate Exfoliate

    This next step is key for the same reason as the first. You want to remove all dead skin cells before using self-tanner so as to make sure that it has the best platform to absorb without looking blotchy or streaky. Not only will the skin look uneven if dead skin cells are removed after the tan has developed, but the tanner itself has the tendency to gather on dry areas of the skin, creating darker patches.

  3. 3. Put on Lotion First

    After you’ve exfoliated, it won’t hurt to apply a moisturizing lotion to the areas you plan to tan just to make sure that the skin is as soft and absorbent as possible!

  4. 4. Use a Mitt

    While some people choose to use their hands to apply whatever self-tanner they plan on using, the safer, more consistent option is to purchase a self-tanner mitt such as the one pictured. Using hands and/or fingers to apply a self-tanning lotion has the potential to look uneven. Plus, you have to be really careful about getting the lotion or mousse on your hands! If you do use them, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after application to each area of your body that you’re tanning. If you leave the lotion on for too long, a tan will start to develop, and particularly gather in the lines and uneven areas of your palms.

  5. 5. Let it Dry

    After you’ve applied the lotion or mousse to every area where you want the tan to develop, you have to let it dry before you put on clothes. Therefore, the best thing to do is to self-tan at a time where you aren’t in a rush to be anywhere. If you don’t have much flexibility in this area, try to find a fast-drying mousse that doesn’t leave a residue!

  6. 6. Use Sparingly Around Joints

    Just as the lotion likes to gather in the lines of palms and around your hands, it also likes to gather around ankles, knees, the backs of knees, and elbows. Make sure to not use too much of the product around these areas so that you have the best shot at as even a tan as possible! When you do apply the product to these areas, do your best to blend it out as well as you can as it dries.

  7. 7. The Lemon Fix

    The newest self-tanning trick that I learned is that--worst case scenario--there is an “eraser” for mistakes having to do with self-tanner! If you have any really streaky or blotchy areas, cut a lemon in half and rub it over the problem area. The juice from the lemon should help color correct the area!

These are the tricks of the trade that I’ve learned throughout my experience with self-tanner. I’d never been too skilled in the art before, but I’ve found as I’ve slowly learned and integrated these techniques that my fake tans keep looking better and better! However, I really feel like this summer is going to be my time to shine (literally). I hope you all find these tips as helpful as I did!