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How to Get a Perfect Tan at Home: Self Tan Tips

Updated on October 3, 2014
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /

We all want to have beautiful, luminous and healthy looking skin; even in the middle of winter when we may not be showing off as much skin. A great way too make your skin look instantly more radiant is by having a healthy looking bronzed tan. Tanning beds are linked to cancer and professional spray tans are expensive with usually less than impressive results, that won't last as long as a pair of shoes you could have used that money for. Thanks to the cosmetic geniuses we have dozens of sunless tanning products that will give you a sun kissed glow at home for a fraction of the cost of skin cancer treatments and self tanning. Keep reading to find out how to get a tan at home quickly, easily and on a budget!

The key to a perfect at home tan with no streaking that actually last are two key points; moisturizing and exfoliation! Paying attention to these two details will help ensure you will get an even coverage and lasting result.


Before each application of self tanner exfoliate your entire body paying special attention to elbows, knee's and feet. Use a heavy exfoliate such as St. Ives or try a home made sugar scrub. Be sure to also shave any areas of your body that you normally would the morning of your first application. This will also add extra exfoliation and get off the last bits of dead skin cells. After your first application of self tanner use a more gentle exfoliation method so you don't just slough off your tanning efforts. A bath loufa, exfoliating mitt or sponge with a mosturizing soap will do the trick.


Keeping your skin hydrated prior to and during at home tanning will allow your skin to absorb the lotion, gel, or spray better and lock in that healthy color. When moisturizing reach for a lotion that is non scented or colored and is made for dry skin even if you don't feel you have a dry skin problem. Avoid bath soaps that are overly drying and opt for brands such as Olay and Dove with proven results to moisturize skin and not strip it of its natural oils. Moisturizers with vitamin E and Shea Butter can also be great to keep skin hydrated. Be sure to apply the moisturizer a few hours before your tanner, giving it time to soak in.

Image courtesy of africa  /
Image courtesy of africa /

Avoid Streaks and Blotches

To avoid streaks or unevenness in the common places; elbows, knee's, ankles and wrists, apply a good moisturizer to these places alone just before you apply your self tanner. It will create a small barrier and keep the product from getting to dark as it often can. If you still end up with a few uneven places, use an defoliator or looofa to even it out.

Best Self Tanners

The next step is the all important tanning product itself. There are dozens of varieties of at home tanning products to choose from and with great beauty advances there aren't many out there you can go wrong with. They range from the simple, tried and true lotions from brands like L'Oreal and Ulta to the fancy kits that come complete with special tanning mitts designed to give even coverage and save your hands from turning orange. The simple lotions and sprays can be found at your local drugstore; the kits can be found at your nearest beauty supply store or online. I find that sprays are easier to work with and generally last longer but I encourage you to try out different products until you find your personal favorite.

Keep Your Tan Lasting Longer

To help your tan last longer and keep your healthy glow, try using a gradual tanner like the one from Jergens after your tan develops. Apply it generously every other day for the duration of your tan. It will help you keep your color and can even help even out blotchy or streaky areas from the self tanner products.

How do you tan?

See results

Not too excited about running the risk of turning yourself streaky or orange? Watch the video below for helpful hints! It's also wise to grab a friend to help you get even coverage. You will also find that reaching all parts of your back with the tanner is a difficult task to do yourself.


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