How To Get The Perfect Self Tan

As the weather warms up and we start to bare our arms and legs, many of us start the process of self tanning. Some love it…some hate it, but if you want to have some color to your skin I want to share how to get the perfect self tan.

We’ve all done it. We apply a self tanner only to end up with rusty ankles, feet, and knees, or uneven orange blotches on our skin. Not exactly the look we were going for. I’ve tried many self tanners over the years, and they have certainly improved over time!

I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy, but if you take the proper steps you can have an even and natural looking self tan. It takes some effort and maintenance, but your skin will thank you for it.

1. Exfoliate Your Skin

The first and most important step in getting the perfect self tan is to exfoliate your skin. My favorite product for this is the First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub. I keep this in my shower and use it before each self tanner application.

I have also recommended these body exfoliating gloves many times. They are from Amazon and come in a pack of 10 pair.

2. Shave Your Legs

In keeping your legs smooth and exfoliated, you will want to shave your legs prior to applying self tanner. My favorite razor is the Billie Razor. It comes with a magnetic holder that sticks to your shower. It will not damage your shower surface, but keeps your razor easily accessible and clean. Just change out the blade every week or so. It also comes in several fun colors.

I’m not having to shave my legs every day anymore since I started using the Kenzzi. This is an IPL hair removal device that you can use at home. I will continue to treat my legs until I don’t need to shave at all, except for touch ups.

For more details on the Kenzzi plus other beauty devices that I use, you will want to read this post.

3. Moisturize

The best way to avoid the dark orange splotches that commonly occur around the feet, ankles, and boney prominences like knees and elbows is to apply a moisturizer to these areas BEFORE your self tanner. Dryer skin absorbs the product more, so use sparingly in these areas.

My current favorite everyday moisturizer is the Cere Ve Daily Moisturizing Lotion. It has ceramides and hyaluronic acid all of which are good for your skin.

4. Choose Correct Shade Of Self Tanner

Unless you are in a bind and need a quick boost of color for an event, I recommend a slow gradual tan that matches your skin tone. If you are fair skinned and don’t naturally tan easily, then don’t go for the darkest self tanner thinking you will suddenly have the perfect tan. More than likely it will be too orange and will look fake.

Start with a light to medium shade and then gradually increase the frequency of application or move to the next darker shade if you need more color.

It’s hard to find a self tanner with instant color that is a cool tone and not warm or orange. I do really like this one by Minetan. I have recommended it several times and it gives me a cooler toned tan that looks more natural. It’s more expensive than some, but it works well and also has good skin care ingredients. I’m wearing it in the photo above.

5. Apply With A Tanning Mitt

Another step in how to get the perfect self tan is to use a tanning mitt. This will save your hands from getting stained with too much product and it also blends the product better than using your hands. This is especially important when using a self tanning mousse.

You can also purchase tanning mitts to help you reach your back. They are not as good as having someone else apply for you, but if your husband or a friend is not around to help you this can be useful.

6. Repeat Process Every 3 Days

You will want to repeat your self tanning process every three days or so. It really depends on your skin tone and how much color you want. You will definitely want to exfoliate your skin as the self tanner starts to fade, even if you don’t wish to reapply. This will keep the skin looking more uniform and smooth.

Self Tanning Lotions

My favorite self tanning lotions are the Jergens Natural Glow + Firming in Fair To Medium and Medium To Dark. They are reasonably priced and hard to beat.

I also like the Neutrogena Build A Tan Gradual Sunless Tanner.

Self Tanning Mousse

These days, I prefer to use a self tanning mouse. They are easier to apply and dry quickly. For a darker tan I like the Minetan one hour express. I have used the one I mentioned above and also the Radiant Glow Tanning Water. I can’t find the “tanning water” anymore but this Coconut Water by the same brand looks very similar.

The best bang for your buck is the Sol by Jergens Water Mousse. It goes on clear like the Coconut water mentioned above, but is half the price.

For instant color, I like the Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun in Light Bronze. This gives instant color that also develops more over the next several hours. This seems to be the perfect shade for my light to medium skin tone.

Self Tanning Drops

If you want ultimate control over the amount of color, then I would recommend the self tanning drops. These are concentrated drops that you add to your own lotion to achieve your desired shade.

There are many brands, but the only one I have tried are the Sol by Jergens Sunless Tanning Drops. I was pleased with the result and I like that I can customize the shade.

This is a good option for areas like the face and arms where you might want to go a little lighter than your legs. I also like that you can use these drops with your favorite body lotion! Just make sure you use the same concentration on whatever body area you are applying it to.

For example, if you are applying to your face and you place five drops of self tanner in one pump of lotion, make sure you use the same concentration for your neck so it looks the same.

For larger areas like the legs, I would recommend mixing your drops and lotion on a foundation mixing palette. This way you can get the product distributed evenly, and if you run out you can mix more with the same concentration.

For More On Self Tanning, check out these posts:

The Self Tanner You Need To Know About

Get Your Glow On

I hope this is helpful as you start your season of self tanning! Leave any questions you might have in the comments below.