Cheeto palms, a patchy back, unsightly streaks… we’ve all been there when self-tanning has gone wrong. Tanning mishaps happen to the best of us – from total tanning newbies to seasoned pros alike.
However, they really can be easy to avoid. As long as you don’t make these common bronzing boo-boos.
From applying on un-prepped skin to tanning in a mad rush, here are 10 self-tanning mistakes worth avoiding. Plus the no-fuss ways to fix them – because nobody’s 100% perfect.
1. Skipping your prep
Ah, tanning prep. We get that it can seem like an unnecessary extra step. But skip it at your peril, because without it you’re near guaranteed to end up streaky. While many of us also shave before tanning, your most essential pre-tan prep is a thorough exfoliation. This will remove dead skin cells and create a smooth, radiant canvas that allows an even application. And promotes a flawless, natural-looking tan.
The best time to exfoliate is the day before bronzing. But if you’re forgetful, you can exfoliate 4-6 hours before in a pinch. Just skip the body scrubs, which can leave an oily residue on the skin, and opt for a deluxe exfoliating mitt.
And if you did forget the prep and end up patchy? Here’s how to fix a blotchy self-tanner in 5 simple steps.
2. Shaving immediately before self-tanning
If you didn’t get time to shave the night before, don’t reach for the razor immediately before self-tanning. Your skin needs some time to settle post shaving (and exfoliation) and applying tanner to freshly depilated skin can cause irritation. It can also allow tan to settle into your open follicles and give your pins an odd, dotty appearance.
If you totally forgot to shave the day prior, don’t stress. You can shave after tanning without removing all your newfound colour. Just make sure you wait at least 8 hours, so your tan has had time to develop. Then shave with gentle pressure, using a brand-new razor and an oil-free wash or shaving foam that won’t break down your faux glow.
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3. Not applying self-tanner to super-clean skin
For the actives in your self-tanner to do their job properly, they need to be applied to clean skin. This means skin free from deodorants, fragrances, and body lotion – unless you’re actually a fan of a patchy tan…
So make sure you shower first to remove any lingering prods that can interfere with your tanner’s DHA. Easy peasy.
4. Not protecting extra-dry areas
There is one exception (isn’t there always?) to the no-moisturiser rule. And it’s all those extra-dry, flaky, wrinkly or difficult to tan areas, like your elbows, knees, ankles and wrists.
These spots are notorious for soaking up too much tanner and going too dark or muddy looking. So it’s generally a good idea to apply some body moisture cream or lotion here as a barrier before you get your bronze on.
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5. Choosing an untinted formula
Sure, you COULD choose an untinted product. But it’s generally wiser to use a tanning foam or lotion, such as our Bali Bronzing Foam, with a convenient guide colour – especially if you’re a self-tanning newbie. A tinted formula allows you to see exactly where you have – and haven’t – applied your fake tan. Meaning it’s virtually impossible to miss a spot. And you can see straight away where a little extra blending is needed to prevent streaking.
6. Choosing a formula that’s too dark for your skin
We get it. If you’re going to the effort of tanning, you want bang for your bronzing buck. However, it really is important to choose a tan that suits your natural skin tone. And it’s essential if you’re not a fan of the Cheeto effect.
Darker formulas have a higher concentration of the tanning agent, DHA. And if you apply too much DHA for your skin tone, you can end up slightly orange – no matter how good quality a tanning formula you use. Consider yourself warned. If ever in doubt, try out our self-tan quiz to find your perfect glow-to tanning product and shade.
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7. Using your bare hands
Are you still applying self-tan with your bare hands? Seriously, in this day and age? Firstly, this is the fast track to stained palms – even with a lot of soapy scrubbing afterwards. Secondly, it’s nowhere near as fast, or effective, as applying your tanning foam or lotion with a velvety applicator mitt.
Promoting smooth strokes, an even application and easy blending, a tanning mitt will truly transform the way you tan. Allowing you to cover a larger surface area faster, and helping you achieve the most natural glowing results.
Explore our tan value sets to get all your essentials in one go!
8. Botching your back
One of the toughest areas to tan has traditionally been your back. If you lived alone or didn’t have a willing pair of hands to tackle your hard-to-reach bits, a patchy or pasty back was often inevitable. But these days, there’s no need to make this awkward tanning mistake.
With a handy back tan applicator, anyone – and we mean anyone – can get an evenly bronzed back in under a minute (plus developing time). So make sure you add one to your stash of self-tanning tools to ensure you never miss a spot!
9. Self-Tanning in a rush
If you have a velvety self-tan mitt and a good-quality tinted mousse, like our Bali Bronzing Foam, tanning shouldn’t take long at all. But it’s never a good idea to rush your application.
Take the time to get set up in a bright, well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror, with all your tanning essentials close at hand. Then apply your tan methodically, from the feet up, using smooth, sweeping motions. Don’t rush, but don’t dawdle either, as you want it to blend well.
The same goes for post-application. Allow enough time for your tan to dry sufficiently before popping on some loose, dark clothing to help reduce transfer.
10. Neglecting the aftercare
Another self-tanning mistake is taking your faux glow for granted. To ensure an even, natural-looking fade, repeat after us – hydration, hydration, hydration. This means smothering your skin in moisturiser each time you shower (or twice a day if you’re super keen).
Take care to pat yourself down gently with a soft towel, instead of aggressively rubbing. And also avoid taking overly long baths or soaking your skin for extended periods if you want your glow to go the distance.
Happy tanning, beauties!
Edited by: Vidhya