There are a few things you must do in prep for your tanning:
- Moisturise really well the night before, to allow the oils in your moisturiser to sink in properly. Otherwise, it's hello patches. There are tonnes of cheap and cheerful body moisturisers, but my favourite is Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Smoothing Lotion, 250mL, $7.95. It has the added benefit of Alpha Beta Hydroxy which acts as an exfoliant to get rid of dead skin cells, plus vitamin E and shea butter for blissfully touchable skin. Smooth sailings ahead!
- It's best to start the actual tanning application in the evening, preferably a good 2 hours before you hit your pillows. That way, there's time for the tan to dry properly, and you'll wake with an enviable Tahitian glow.
- EXFOLIATE! I hope you havn't heard this here first, 'cause this is the most crucial step in achieving a perfect tan! Just hop in the shower, run the water at a tepid temperature and apply the product allover the skin with firm circular motions. I like to slough down with a sugar formula like Garnier Bodytonic Sugar Scrub, 150mL, around $12 . It has a divine citrus fragrance, adding a pleasure factor to your boring shower routine. Pay heed to the heels, elbows and knees, as these area tend to be rougher than others. Also, grab your usual facial scrub and gently massage onto your neck and decollotage. It is very important that no residue is left on the skin, so rinse, rinse, rinse! Try not to use products which contain oils, as these will definitely leave unwanted residue.
- I'd advise that you shave or wax the day before, so your skin has time to settle any irritation.
- After showering, dry your skin completely, and if your bathroom is steamy, get out of there straight away. Sweat will interfere with your self-tanner.
- DO NOT use any perfume or antiperspirent.
- Apply a rich moisturiser such as Norwegian Formula Body Moisturiser, 300mL, $9.64 lightly to your elbows, inside your wrists, knees and ankles.
Still breathing? Now that you've prepped your skin for tanning application, lets get into it:
- First assess what type of self-tanner you have. Is it a mousse, gel, lotion or spray? Either of these are fine, though oily skins should use gels and dry skins should stay away from sprays unless they have moisturising properties. I recommend a tinted formulation, so that you don't end up with missed spots.
- Strip butt naked. You can wear underwear if you're not concerned about tanning your hips and bum.
- Apply the self-tan from the feet up. Apply sparingly on the toes, the back of the heels and the ankles. Work your way up the legs, rubbing in the tan to prevent streaking. Careful around the knees, as they tend to slurp up the tan very easily. If your having trouble with a spray tanner reaching the back of your legs, get a friend or partner to lend you a hand. Same goes for your back.
- After making sure your body is evenly covered, the waiting game starts. Try not to put on any clothes for about an hour. Now is not the time to be vaccuuming the lounge or ripping through your secret Jane Fonda exercise tapes, just try and keep cool.
Depending on the formulation your tan should have developed between 1-6 hours after application. Basically, no matter what the bottle says, the tanning time will vary depending on the humidity in the air. You may take a shower the day after, though if possible, use a PH balanced body wash such as Johnson's 24hour Moisture Body Wash, 400mL, $5.99.
Do make body lotion your new best friend, as it will extend the duration of your faux glow. Have a bit of fun with shimmery lotions that light up your newly bronzed canvas. Napoleon Perdis Whipped Dream Tan Enhancer, 250g, $35 has the added goodie of a little self tan, so, when used daily, will give you a super long-lasting luminous tan. Whats not to love?!
Unfortunately for us, a great colour on one person can be totally awful on another, as the end result really does rely on your technique, skin tone and your skins moisture. Usually if the colour is too pale, a second coat will do the trick.