10 Self-Tanner Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

Pool parties, BBQs, and long lake days means summer is just about here -- and with it come shorts and bikinis. Since we won't be ordering an at-home lipo kit anytime soon, getting a tan is the easiest way to look a few pounds lighter, reduce cellulite, and get more muscle definition. Thankfully, the days of Playboy sticker tan lines from time spent baking in a bed are long gone. Here are the top tips for getting that perfect summer glow at home -- sunkissed sans sun.

1. Choose the right tanner for you. If you are a self-tanner virgin, go with a product that can gradually build up color, like Jergens Natural Glow, or pick out the lightest color you can find. This way you can see a hint of color and decide if you need to seek help from tanning pros. If you've done this dance before, then try out various brands and colors by doing patch tests.

See Also: Thanks to New Jersey's Patricia Krentcil: Five Reasons You (and Your 5-Year-Old) Should Stay out of the Tanning Bed Seven Must-See Metro Phoenix Pool Parties in April

2. Allow for proper time. Do not try to put self-tanner on two hours before hitting the pool. You won't see any color difference, and it will just wash off. Done properly, the entire ritual will take between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on how fast you get it down. Your tan will develop over the span of four to eight hours, so you should start the application process the day before you're beach-bound to achieve the best staying results and color.

3. Don't wear white or light colors the same day you apply your tan. The potential for transferring the tanner onto your white clothes is high, and if you sweat at all . . . fuhgedaboutit! Your clothes will look like tie-dye in a lovely shade of baby poo.

4. Get the right tools for the application. You'll need the following: gloves to help you apply the product with out turning the palms of your hands orange; a heavy lotion to act as a barrier cream to apply to your hands, feet, elbows, and other porous area; and a towel to wipe off excess product and clean up any mistakes.

5. Exfoliate. Yes, you've gotta do it. Dry-brush the skin before getting into the shower. This will help to exfoliate and buff the skin. Once you get in the shower, shave as you normally would. Finish by using a loofa to really make sure you are getting all the dead skin off.

6. Do not apply lotion to your whole body after showering. Only apply the aforementioned heavy lotion to porous areas. That includes feet, ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, hands, forearms, and from the bottom of the calves down. This will help give the tanner its most natural and blended look. Professional air-brush technicians will apply a slightly lighter color to these areas to avoid white hands and white feet, it helps to dilute the tanner just a bit to blend better. Instead of all-over, think ombre tan.

7. Start in one area first. Putting a glob here and a glob there will most likely result in staining of the skin. And that won't just rub off. You will give your self giant self-tanner polka dots. Do. Not. Do. That! Separately apply tanner to each leg, arm, then your stomach, chest, and back areas. Don't apply the tanner directly to your feet or hands. You can blend the tanner in with the heavy lotion that you applied earlier.

8. Mix your face lotion with self-tanner. Use a one-to-one ratio of face lotion to tanner. Putting full-strength self-tanner on your face will make you look like your whole body is one color. Your teeth and eyes will stand out -- and not in a good way. Your makeup will look like the wrong color, and you will need gallons of blush to give your cheeks any rosiness.

9. Shower and hydrate the next day. Take a shower the next day to rinse off any self-tanner that your skin didn't absorb. It will help to blend the areas you might have jacked up. Moisturize daily and hydrate your skin with a non-greasy lotion. You will avoid the snakeskin crackle look that can develop from dry skin and self tanner.

10. If you have given a valiant effort and your failed attempts produce a result that makes you look like you ran through a storm of mud and orange Kool-Aid, then seek professional help. Choose a tanning specialist who airbrushes and has multiple shades of tanning solution.

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Gigi Arredondo