Summer is officially here, so it's time we take our shorts and dresses out of hibernation and let our skin get a glimpse of the real world for the first time since we put our winter coats on back in October. Nothing screams summer more than a bronze glow on your skin, but we all know that exposing your skin to the sun's harmful UV rays is sooo '90s — who wants damaged, aging skin, or even worse, skin cancer? Not us, that's for sure.
Thankfully there are lots of options out there for self-tanning, with hundreds of methods and products to choose from, so there's no need to damage your gorgeous skin this summer. If you're a little bit intimidated by the entire process, don't want to end up looking like Ross from Friends or just don't know where to start, here are our top tips for getting that perfect bronze glow.
Instagram / St. Moriz
There are so many methods of self-tanning that it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out what will work for you. Instant tan is exactly what it sounds like — instant color — and it can come as a mousse or lotion, depending on the brand. You can pop instant tan on ten minutes before you leave the house and it'll give your skin an immediate bronze tint, which will wash off the next time you shower. Instant tan is great for those last minute plans because it takes just minutes to apply and can be rinsed off if you have any tanning mishaps (we've all been there). Just don't get caught in the rain, unless you're a fan of streaks! One of our favorite instant products is Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs — an oldie but such a goodie. St. Moriz Instant Self-Tanning Mousse is also amazing for a quick-drying, all over instant color.
Instagram / Vita Liberata
Gradual tanning can be a little bit tricky if you've never tried your hand at it, but don't let that scare you! You'll be an expert once we're done with you. Gradual tan lasts much longer than instant, but that means there's less room for error. Gradual tan develops over time, but after five hours, it will stop developing completely. Depending on how dark you want to go, apply your tan the recommended number of hours before showering off your guide color. For the darkest and longest lasting color, we recommend applying it the night before you hope to debut your new bronze glow. Once you've used a gradual fake tan, your color should last at least a week and there's no need to worry about it dripping off in the rain. In terms of product, we recommend St. Tropez Gradual Tan Classic Everyday Mousse and Vita Liberata Fabulous Self-Tanning Gradual Lotion.
Instagram / St. Tropez
Tinted moisturizer is the easiest and lightest form of fake tan. Apply it after you've showered to give your skin a natural, healthy glow or while you're on vacation to prolong your natural color. A good tinted moisturizer will also prolong your gradual fake tan if you continue to apply it in the days following your tan application. It's fast drying, won't stain your clothes and is a great start for anyone deciding to dabble in the art of fake-tanning. Two of our favorite tinted moisturizers are Clinique Self Sun Body Tinted Lotion and St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Tinted Body Lotion, neither should be too difficult to find.
Instagram / Dripping Gold Tan
Feel like taking matters out of your own hands? Get a spray tan. People who give spray tans are professionals, so they're guaranteed to give you an all-over, even glow in a matter of minutes. Spray tans are ideal if you're going on vacation as they spray everywhere (and we mean everywhere), so prepare to get naked. A spray will also last longer than any other type of fake tan, so make sure you research the professional you're paying to spray you or you'll be stuck with a bad tan for a week at the very least. A spray will typically cost upwards of $30, whether it's done in a machine or by a real-life human, but it eliminates the pressure of not messing up and the time spent sitting naked in your bedroom waiting for it to dry. It's worth it, trust us.
Instagram / Tan Luxe
If you're applying instant or gradual tan, you'll want to do all your shaving 24 hours before application. Shaving opens up the hair follicles in your skin that tan will sink into if applied too soon, leaving those dreaded brown spots that are just not a good look. Shave in one direction to avoid irritation, use a moisturizing shaving gel, and stay away from blunt razors — they are not your friend!
Instagram / Sienna X
Moisturizing and exfoliating in the days before you apply fake tan is essential — a smooth, hydrated base will absorb the product nicely and allow for an even application. If you have dry skin, your tan will develop patchy and uneven. In saying this, like with shaving, don't moisturize or exfoliate within the 24 hours before you apply your tan — exfoliating opens your pores, like shaving, and moisturizer will change the consistency of the tanning products and interfere with how well the tan will cling to your skin.
Instagram / Bali Body
Tanning your face isn't essential if you plan on matching your foundation shade to your neck, but if you don't wear a lot of makeup, you might want to apply fake tan to your face to make sure your color is consistent. There's a myth that tanning products will cause your skin to break out, but if you're using a non-comedogenic product (a product that won't clog pores), it's absolutely fine. Most products will disclose that they are non-comedogenic on their packaging. Apply a thin layer of moisturizer to your face before applying the product and use an old makeup brush to evenly distribute the tan — don't forget your ears!
Instagram / bBold Tan
If you're using a gradual tan or have had a spray, aftercare is vital to keep your tan looking its best. After showering off your guide color, pat your body dry and using a dry towel on your damp skin, rub any parts of your body where the tan has gathered, i.e your wrists, elbows, and ankles — the tan will move more freely while damp. Generously apply moisturizer to your body daily to ensure the tan fades nicely without patches or PRO TIP: if you want to prolong your color, swap your everyday moisturizer out for a tinted product.
Instagram / esthetiquev
If you've had a dodgy tan application (which happens to the best of us), you might be looking for tips for fake tan removal. We got you, girl. Most tanning brands have tan removers that are made specifically for their product. Apply a generous layer of the tan remover and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before wiping away the product in the shower. For more stubborn areas, we recommend you invest in an exfoliating glove and a thick coffee or sugar scrub — these types of scrubs are coarser than an exfoliating cream and therefore, a bit more effective in getting the job done. Turn off your shower so that the water doesn't rinse away your exfoliator and using the glove, exfoliate your legs in circular motions.
Good luck, stunner!