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Top 5 Self-Tanner Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Updated on May 7, 2013

Why Use a Self-Tanner?

Having a crisp golden-brown tan is one of humanity's most universal signs of beauty. Entire industries have formed for the purpose of providing tanning services to people too busy to lie outside, or provide tanning during the winter, when lying outside is not an option. However many people are now seeking an artificial that is both longer-lasting than spray tans and less dangerous than tanning beds.

Self-tanners, tanning cream, bronzer, what ever you call it, tanning lotions are the future of artificial tans. Cheap, convenient and easy to use, these lotions can provide rich and deep color to those who use them properly. Unfortunately, using them properly is easier said than done! Below are five major self-tanner mistakes, and how to avoid them!

1. Oompa Loompa Orange

Every self-tanner's biggest fear is waking up the next day and looking like something out of a Willy Wonka movie. Luckily, with a little patience and preparation, you can almost eliminate the chance of this happening. Orange skin is caused by using too dark of a tanner, too much of it, and too fast. First, you'll need to choose the right self-tanner for you. If you have a fair skin tone, try going with a medium skin-tone lotion. If you already have a nice base, you can jump right to using a darker lotion for best results. When you get your lotion, try applying small portions over a couple days, rather than a large amount at once. This will let you decide the exact tone you want to stay at. It's always better to be under-tanned than over-tanned!

2. Streaking & Blotching

Streaking and blotching is caused by an uneven application of tanner. This is often caused by application using two fingers, which will leave a long streak if rubbed in vertically. You can avoid streaks by applying the tanner in small circular motions, going over areas twice or three times to rub in excess lotion. If you are very worried about streaking, consider using a daily moisturizer with gradual tanning. Applying these daily will allow you to slowly develop a more natural-looking tan without any streaks.

3. Your Tan Fades Away Quickly

Self-tans by nature have a limited lifespan of 1-3 weeks, after which they begin to fade slowly. There are a couple things you can do to help prolong the life of your tan. It is important to properly wash your skin and exfoliate before applying the tanner. By removing dead skin cells, you allow the tanner to reach deeper into your skin, which will result in a longer-lasting tan that doesn't fade after you shower. It is also important to supplement your self-tan with some actual sun exposure. Spending 15 minutes in the sun each day will do wonders for your self tan, extending it's life and giving you a more natural colour.

4. Your Hands are ORANGE!

Another tell-tale sign of a newbie self-tanner is orange hands. These are caused by forgetting to wash your hands after applying lotion to the rest of your body. Many websites recommend using gloves to apply the self-tanner, but frankly that is somewhat overkill. As long as you deeply-wash your hands after applying the lotion (perhaps with a loofah), you shouldn't have too much of an issue with orange hands.

5. You Missed a Spot!

There is nothing worse than missing a spot! Part of the problem lies in the fact that it is difficult to fix a missed spot without the borders between the areas looking obvious. The best way to avoid this is simply to be careful and thorough when applying tanner, and perhaps using a partner to get harder to reach spots.

Fixing a Screw-up

Okay, so you didn't find this page before trying to use your tanner, and now your face is all orange, or you have streaks down your arms. What now? Well, your tan will naturally fade away within 1-2 weeks, but there are a couple of things you can do to help it do so.

First, wash your face and exfoliate using a deep pore cleanser. This will remove any tanning agent that may still be deepening the color of your skin. Then moisturize the affected area thoroughly. Now, you have the option of taking corrective measures. Be careful though, as these may backfire and make your screw-up look even worse! If you have the confidence though, you can try applying more tanner to selective areas to reduce contrast between areas of skin. People are a lot less likely to notice a streak on your leg if it gradually darkens across your leg than if there is a crisp contrast.


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