Apply Self Tanners the Right Way

The best tanning lotions to give you that golden glow without paying the price to your skin that sun or tanning bed exposure takes contain an ingredient called DHA (dihyrdoxyacteone) as their active ingredient. DHA is actually a type of sugar that reacts with the outermost layer of dead skin cells to cause changes in the skin color. The effects of a self (sunless) tanner typically last about a week after being applied.

​The short-lived lifespan of a tan brought about by these tanning lotions is because of the constant sloughing off of dead skin cells. As the skin cells are shed, so is the “sunless tan.” Because of this, it is recommended that even the best tanning lotions be reapplied every three days if you want to maintain that summer glow.

Self Tanners

​One major drawback to using self tanning lotions is that they may have a very strong and unpleasant odor, especially from the less expensive brands. This is definitely not to say that these product are not effective; in fact, many of these brands were rated just as effective as more expensive tanning products.

​Application of self tanners can be a little tricky. Always remember that it takes several hours for these products to bring your skin to the darkest level after application, so don’t make the mistake of reapplying too soon. Self tanners can take up to 12 hours to reach their full effect, so avoid reapplying any sooner than that if you feel that you are not dark enough.

​Be realistic. Look for self tanner’s geared towards your skin’s natural tone. If you are very fair skinned, look for products formulated for your skin type. Slathering on a “dark” self tanning product can make you look like an orange colored alien.

​A good practice is to exfoliate your skin before applying your self tanner. This is to prolong the life of your sunless tan, as the oldest skin cells are shed first. Exfoliation brings newer skin cells to the surface of the skin by removing the older ones, so your tan will have a bit longer lifespan.

​Don’t use excessive amounts of product. If you are new to sunless tanning, start out with a small amount to get the most even application, and avoid streaks.

​Avoid swimming, bathing, exercising or rubbing your skin with other types of lotions for a minimum of three hours after you apply self tanner for maximum results.

​Refrain from using last year’s bottle of tanning lotion. Once the DHA in tanning products is exposed to the air, it quickly degrades.

​Another good practice for applying self tanners is to wear a pair of disposable gloves, or at least wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to avoid unnatural looking tanned palms.

​For best results, make sure that you apply self tanner in a circular, rather than an up-and-down vertical fashion.

​To make your self tanner glide on smoothly, apply a thin coat of ordinary body lotion, taking special care to moisturize the elbows and knees extra well. Any excess body lotion may be simply tissued off.

​A tip is to avoid the elbows and knees on initial application of self tanner. Wait a few minutes after applying the tanning product to the other areas you are tanning, then do the knees and elbows last. Be sure to wipe off any excess, as you don’t want your knees and elbows darker than the rest of your body.

Douglas M. Jacobs

A Music, Video and TV enthusiast.

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