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Self-Tanning Tips for a Perfect Fake Tan

Updated on October 22, 2015

Bronzers and self-tanners are for what I like to call “smart sunless tanning”, which not only adds a healthy glow to your face and body, but also evens out the skin discoloration. The tan skin fad was initiated by Coco Chanel in the 1920s, when she returned from her Mediterranean trip with a golden brown tone on her skin and announced that the suntan look was chic. Since then, it has been a popular fashion for many people to bake and dry their skin in the sun, regardless of how harmful that is. Well, I have bad news for those sun worshippers: you are putting yourselves at risk of developing skin cancer (from UVB) and premature aging (from UVA). Those who resort to tanning machines are not that much better off. Although tanning machines do not emit UVB like the sun, they do produce UVA which can reach deeper into the skin and cause premature wrinkles. Sunless tanning with bronzers and self tanners is by far the safest way to achieve the outdoorsy tan look. The following self tanning tips will help you transform your dull-looking skin into a radiant tan. Forget about a real suntan. Sometimes faking is good.


Bronzers come in various formulas such as powder, gel stick and cream. Powder bronzer is the easiest to apply. Cream and gel bronzers usually contain oil, so if you have oily skin that is prone to acne, try to stick with powder bronzer.

Choose the Right Shades

The idea of using bronzers is to add a natural-looking glow to your skin, not to make it look burned like a desert camel. So you have to select a shade that flatters your natural complexion rather than completely changes it.

  • If you have a light complexion like Gwyneth Paltrow or Nicole Kidman, use sheer bronzers with pinkish or peach shimmer. Avoid bronzers that are too brown, as they can make your skin seem muddy or dirty.
  • If you have a medium skin tone like Salma Hayek, you are very lucky and can probably use any bronzer you fancy. The best shades for you, however, would be gold or brown with a tiny bit of orange.
  • As for dark-skinned ladies, brownish-red bronzers look the most flattering on you.

How to Apply Powder Bronzer

  • Apply bronzer after foundation.
  • Use a large brush to apply bronzer, starting on your cheeks and nose (where the sunlight naturally hits first).
  • Brush a smaller amount of bronzer on your forehead and chin.
  • Don’t forget your neck and ears. A gorgeous tanned face with pale ears and neck is one of the biggest beauty disasters.

How to Apply Cream and Gel Bronzer

  • Cream and gel stick bronzers can be used after or without foundation.
  • Make sure your face is clean and not oily because gel and cream bronzers can easily grab onto those oily spots and make your skin look blotchy.
  • Apply lightly on your cheeks, then move to your forehead, nose and chin.
  • Use your clean hand to blend, blend and blend. These types of bronzer can stain your skin if not blended evenly and immediately.
  • And again, don't forget your ears and neck.

Self Tanner

Self-tanners are available in gel, cream, lotion and spray, and usually contain moisturizer. They are great for adding color to your face and body, making your lifeless complexion look more outdoorsy, and also concealing cellulite and veins on your legs. Many self tanning products can take up to an hour to allow your skin to develop into the tanned look, so try to plan ahead.

How to Apply Self Tanner

  • Prepare your skin by exfoliating. Shave your legs and scrub off dead skin in the shower. Rough patches on your skin will keep the self tanner from blending evenly. Also, avoid using a shower cream or exfoliator that contains a lot of essential oils because it may react with the self tanner and make your tan look splotchy or streaky.

  • Pat your body dry and put on disposable latex gloves. Apply a light layer of self tanner on your body. Rub and rub until it looks thoroughly even. Wait until the color develops. You may apply another layer if you want a deeper tan.

  • Take off the gloves and wash your hands. Put a small dab of self tanner on only the backs of your hands and rub them together.

  • Wait about ten minutes before getting dressed.

  • If some areas of your skin seem too dark, lighten it by exfoliating the skin in the shower with a loofah, then clean it with baby oil. Some self tanners can also be removed with lemon juice.



Submit a Comment

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Hi, mysisters! Thanks for dropping by and sharing your tip. :)

  • mysisters profile image

    mysisters 7 years ago

    Great Hub. Self-tanner can be very tricky and if you mess up then it look orange and streaky. Another trick is to mix the self-tanner with a good moisturizing lotion then apply.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 8 years ago

    You're very welcome, organiclife. Thanks for dropping by :)

  • organiclife profile image

    organiclife 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this, its gonna help me a lot as I don't know much about make-up:)

  • funnebone profile image

    funnebone 8 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

    I have bronzed your likeness and kiss it on the forehead everyday

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 8 years ago

    Hey readbook! Thanks a lot for dropping by :)

  • readabook profile image

    readabook 8 years ago from Texas

    Good info. I always wondered how to use those bronzers on your face.