Step by Step Guide for How to Self-Tan from Head to Toe | bluemercury

How to Apply Self-Tanner

How To Apply Self-Tanner

Winter's chilly months are officially behind us! It's time to get your skin ready to bear it all in tank tops and sun dresses. We know at-home tanning can be intimidating with the huge array of products and fear of application misshaps. But, we've got you covered with a step-by-step guide for how to get natural-looking, sun-kissed and glowing skin from head to toe. 

STEP 1: Exfoliate 

Application: Exfoliating is a must if you want a long-lasting and even tan. After exfoliation product will be able to sink into the skin more effectively. It also helps smooth  the skin, so that the tanner doesn't leave unnatural dark patches. 

Exfoliator for the Face

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant - Exfoliate the Face before using Self-Tanners

Use an exfoliator like Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant with glycolic or salicylic acid that will remove dead skin and dull skin on the face prepping it to absorb color more evenly and effectively. 

Exfoliator for the Body

 Kiehl's Grapefruit Body Exfoliator - Exfoliate the body before applying self-tanner

Exfoliate your body with a scrub like Kiehl's Grapefruit Body Scrub. It will exfoliate and smooth the skin, revealing softer skin that will easily absorb the self-tanner.

Editor's Tip: Avoid any oil-based products - they will leave a residue on your skin that causes a streaky tan.

STEP 2: Moisturize

Application: After showering and exfoliating, don't forget to moisturizer the dryer areas of your skin. Pay special attention to your knees, elbows, hands and feet. Dry skin will absorb more pigment than other parts of your body, causing patchiness. If you have large pores or dry skin and you're using a tanner on your face that doesn't have moisturizer built in, make sure to also moisturizer your face. 

Moisturizer for the Face

Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer - Moisturize Face for an Even Self-Tan

Choose a lightweight moisturizer like Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer and dab just a little onto dry spots to prevent them from turning dark or orange. 

Moisturizer for the Body

La Mer Body Creme - Use Body Moisturizer for Dry areas of the Skin for Even Tan

Apply a richer body moisturizer like La Mer The Body Creme to dry areas of the skin will soften, soothe and hydrate skin, preventing those areas from looking patchy post application.

Editor's Tip: Make sure to let the moisturizer sink in. Wait 10 to 20 minutes before applying tanner. 

STEP 3: Apply Self-Tanner to Face

Application: Use a small dab of tanner where the sun would naturally hit (the bridge of your nose, apples of your cheeks, chin and forehead). Then blend outwards, be careful not to over apply above the lip. 

Face Self-Tanners for Fair Skin Tones

James Read Dry Face Tan - Fast Acting Self Tanning Mousse for the Face

If you want an instant sun-kissed face, choose a tanning mousse like James Read Dry Tan Face. You'll get a golden glow in one hour and a medium tan in two. Plus this fast-acting tanner it's odorless!

Face Self-Tanners for Olive and Medium Skin Tones

St. Tropez Daily Self Tanner for the Face - Daily Self-tanning moisturizer for gradual face tan

If you're looking for a gradual tan that builds over time, we love a daily moisturizer self-tanner combo like St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Face Lotion Medium to Dark

Editor's Tip: Choose your self-tanner by skin tone, not by your desired level of tan. Fair skin tones should choose a light to medium, and olive and darker skin tones should choose medium to dark. 

STEP 4: Apply Self-Tanner to Body 

Application: Start at the feet and ankles, then work your way up. This will prevent any unnatural marks and creases cause by bending over, make sure to save your arms for last. Attach a self tanning mitt like James Read Tanning Mitt to a long handled brush apply self-tanner to hard to reach areas.

Body Self-Tanner for Fair Skin Tones

St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse - Fast Acting Deep Tanner for Body

We love St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse because it's infused with aloe vera that smoothes the skin instead of leaving it sticky. The mousse also uses Aromaguard™ fragrance technology that eliminates that distinctive fake tan smell.

Body Self-Tanner for Olive and Medium Skin Tones

TanTowel Full Body Tanning Towelette for Medium to Dark Skin Tones

TanTowel Classic Full Body Fair/Medium are perfect for last minute tanning. Made in towelette form for quick and easy application, they give you a tan that's streak free and the formula quick drys, so that you're bronzed and out the door in minutes. 

Editor's Tip: Don't be afraid to apply liberally. Applying more won’t result in a darker color, but if you don’t apply enough you'll end up with an uneven tan. Lastly, make sure to wipe palms and fingernails completely clean after application to remove DHA residue and avoid that tell tale sign of a false tan.