Go Streak-Free: 10 Cheap Sunless Tanning Tips

May 22, 2011 Health Tips

If you want to avoid age spots and cancer, sunless tanner is the way to go. There are many methods to looking fabulous (and believable) when wearing sunless tanner. It’s all in the prep work and the application. Remember that a fabulous sunless tan takes time, so reserve the following when you’re not in a rush.

  1. Not all tanners are created equal. It’s important you read the label when purchasing sunless tanner. Some are tinted, while others are a clear or white hue. What you buy depends on what you want from the sunless tanner. A tinted sunless tanner is brown or a golden color and leaves instant color on the skin. In addition to this, it will gradually darken the skin’s color. Remember that the top layer of this instant color will wash off, so it’s best to avoid a tinted sunless tanner if you plan on swimming. Clear or white sunless tanners will not develop on the skin for 3-4 hours.
  2. You must exfoliate before applying sunless tanner. There’s no way to get around this. If you want that streak-free faux glow, you have to exfoliate. No need for a pricey exfoliator in a fancy jar. A combination of olive oil and sugar will do nicely, just be sure to apply it carefully to avoid slipping around in the shower. Pay extra attention to your elbows, knees and ankles, which are usually drier than the rest of your body.
  3. Shave when you exfoliate. To prolong your faux glow, you won’t want to shave in the days following application. Make sure you shave before or after exfoliating. If your skin is especially sensitive it’s best to shave prior to exfoliating. Exfoliating after shaving can cause irritation for some. If you do have flare-ups or bumps, give your skin a day to recoup before applying self-tanner.
  4. Pat yourself dry. You want to keep that stellar smooth skin after exfoliating, don’t you? Gently pat yourself dry and avoid any heavy rubbing which can cause skin to flake or cause rough patches that will give you an uneven color after the self-tanner as developed.
  5. Soft skin equals even color. After you’re done in the shower and you pat yourself dry, slather on a lotion or body butter. You want to let this moisture soak into your skin and completely dry before you apply sunless tanner. Apply extra lotion to dry spots like the elbows, knees and ankles. When it comes to this step, you don’t have to use a swanky product since you want to apply it liberally. Be sure to work the lotion into your skin in any area you plan on apply sunless tanner.
  6. Work from the bottom up. You want to start with your feet and move upwards, if you’re sunless tanning your entire body (or the visible parts). This prevents you from streaking or rubbing your arms against your legs after your arms have product on them. Start with your feet and rub the sunless tanner in using a circular motion. Move quickly and do your best to apply an even application. Go over an entire area once before you apply more product to prevent a patchy finish. Work up the ankles and legs. From there, start at the shoulders and move down your arms and hands, finishing with your chest and working up the neck.
  7. Refrain from sunless tanning your face. Many sunless tanners meant for the body will clog the pores on your face in a major way. To avoid this, buy a sunless tanner specifically formulated for the face. If you’re dealing with drugstore brands this is a must, but it is the case with many high end sunless tanners as well. If you do decide to use the same sunless tanner on your face, mix it with a bit of moisturizer (equal parts) to get natural results. You can always dust on bronzer to add depth and color to your face.
  8. Sunless tanning works best in the buff. Be sure you have a few hours to yourself when you apply sunless tanner. After application, you want to hang out in the buff for 20 minutes or so, or until the tanner is completely dry. Some sunless tanners dry quickly, while others will take about 20 minutes to soak in. You can sit or lay down, but be sure to cover any chairs or the bed with a bath towel to protect your furniture from color.
  9. Hang out in loose clothing. After the tanner is dry, you want to hang out in loose clothing to prevent any streaking from tight clothes. A big T-shirt and your undies, or a pair of baggy shorts, are the way to go while your sunless tanner works its magic.
  10. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. To prolong your sunless tan, keep skin well moisturized. Apply lotion liberally every night and morning to keep skin supple and prevent flaking. If you want to go darker, apply another coat of sunless tanner after your lotion has soaked in. Do not exfoliate again or you run the risk of rubbing off the tan. Typically, your sunless tan will last 4-6 days before you have to repeat the process from scratch.

Sunless tanning has come a long way and it’s easy to do at home, if you know the tricks of the trade. Finding the right sunless tanner that works with your skin tone can be a guessing game, so check beauty messageboards and blogs for suggestions on what works best. Stores like Sephora and CVS welcome returns with a receipt, so if you end up with a product that doesn’t cut it, you aren’t stuck with it.