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Can You Tan With Self-Tanner On? Do’s and Don’ts

Can You Tan With Self-Tanner On? Do’s and Don’ts

Mastering the art of self-tanning can be intimidating, especially when you’re trying to avoid transforming into a living, breathing Cheeto. But what about heading to the beach or pool with your faux glow – can you naturally tan with self-tanner on? Will your fake tan prevent your skin from bronzing? And – the most important question of all – is it dangerous to wear fake tan in the sun? 

Don’t stress, beauties! We’ve got you covered. Read on for all the info on how to safely achieve the sunkissed skin you’ve been yearning for! 


Can You Tan Through Fake Tan?

This is a question many people ponder, and the answer is yes, you can. Fake tanning and sun tanning both alter the colour of your skin, but they do so in different ways. Most self-tanners use an active tanning ingredient called dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. This colourless, sugar-derived active interacts with the amino acids in the dead skin cells on the outer layer of your epidermis (the stratum corneum). This leads to a chemical reaction that causes the temporary browning effect we all know and love.

This browning is known as the Maillard reaction – and it’s the same process that gives baked goods that delicious golden colour and delicious taste. But don’t worry – your skin isn’t being baked!

Unless of course, you’re trying to achieve your tan by lying in the sun. Whereas, with a fake tan your glow fades relatively quickly as your skin cells shed, with sun tanning or (shudder) sun beds, deeper layers of skin are involved in the bronzing process. 

While UVB rays cause painful sunburn, UVA radiation triggers pigment-producing cells called melanocytes to produce, you guessed it, melanin. This results in a longer-lasting tan but – here’s the kicker – it comes with the risk of sun damage, skin cancer and premature ageing. 

But back to answering your burning (pardon the pun) question, using a self-tanner won’t impact your ability to tan naturally. But neither does it provide any protection from the sun.


Is it Safe?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the glow from your self-tanner is real and that you’ll therefore have more in-built sun protection. Let’s be clear – you won’t. Fake tan doesn’t provide a barrier because it does not produce melanin and, vitally, it doesn’t contain any SPF.

In other words, it does nothing to block or protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. So you will always want to wear (and reapply) SPF 30 or 50 if you plan on spending a day lounging in the sun. Because, contrary to popular belief, you can still get sunburned through a fake tan. And make sure your sunscreen’s broad spectrum – meaning it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. 

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How to Use Self-Tanner

Hopefully, we’ve established by now that the only safe tan is a fake tan, and all you have to do now is pick your perfect formula. No mean feat as there are countless self-tanning products out there, but our favourite is the Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam. Hands down. Lightweight and non-sticky, our advanced formula blurs pigmentation and perfects your skin, leaving a tropical mango and guava scent behind, rather than that overpowering biscuity smell we’re all familiar with.

Ready to glow? Here’s how to apply self-tanner like a pro in a few simple steps: 

  1. Shave to remove unwanted hair and exfoliate the skin. We recommend doing this 6- 24 hours before applying the self-tanner. 
  2. Apply on dry skin. Don’t moisturise.
  3. To spread and apply to tricky areas like feet, hands, face, and ears, use an applicator mitt and brush. A back tan applicator is also a lifesaver!
  4. Let the self-tanner develop from 2 hours to overnight, depending on how deep you like your tan. 
  5. To remove the guide colour/bronzer, shower in warm water, then pat skin dry. 
  6. Repeat the process every 5 to 7 days or whenever you feel it’s necessary. To maintain sunkissed skin results, moisturise daily.

Self-Tanner Do’s

If you want to steer clear of a streaky, orange tan, read on to find out the dos and don’ts of tanning with a self-tanner. 

1. Do Exfoliate

Scrub away those flakes! 

Exfoliating before fake tanning will help remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and reduce breakouts. Plus it’s essential to avoid a patchy tan. Pro tip: You’ll want to give a little TLC on the spots where your skin is thicker, like the elbows, knees, and ankles.

Then slather on a moisturiser – just not right before you tan.

2. Do Apply at Night

Applying at night gives your self-tanner time to develop a natural tan look. Things like showering, rain, or tight clothes can mess up your tan when it’s trying to settle. And some tanning products will also stain!  

As the self-tanner process can take up to eight hours, applying right before bed is super convenient. For the best results, we recommend adding this to your evening routine.


3. Do Keep Skin Moisturised

The key to an even tan is moisturising, so make sure you also moisturise in the days before you tan. The more nourished your skin is, the better the results – trust us! For an even, hydrated glow, moisturise at least 24 hours before applying the self-tanner. 

Don’t moisturise right before you tan – apart from on those afore-mentioned thicker areas. Aka elbows, knees, wrists and ankles. These tricky spots are notoriously thirsty and can become muddy-looking, so a moisturiser will act as a barrier to prevent this.

Self-Tanner Don’ts

Now, what should you not do? 

1. Don’t Rub

To keep your tan long-lasting and gorgeous, try your best to not rub your skin. For example, replace your steaming hot shower with warm water (hot water and soaking is the enemy of your tan), then pat yourself dry instead of rubbing the towel around. Using this drying method will help ensure you don’t make streak marks by accidentally exfoliating your skin. 

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2. Don’t Put Too Much on Your Face

We want to avoid a blotchy face at all costs, right? Right! So, when you finish applying the self-tanner to your body, it’s time for your face. 

Make sure to take it slowly and use a small amount, especially when applying it to your upper neck. Remember, it’s easier to add more later than remove!

For a natural-looking facial glow, we’re a big fan of swapping your regular tanning mousse for hydrating tan drops. You just mix these into your moisturiser for a customisable, buildable glow. Too easy!

3. Don’t Use Your Bare Hands

Sick of stained palms? Mitts will be your best friend during the self-tanning process – keeping your hands pristine and allowing for a more even application. With a larger surface area and a velvety-smooth finish, they ensure a speedier application and make blending oh-so-easy. So don’t tan without one!

Final Thoughts

Sure, it’s tempting to bask in the sun’s warmth for hours. Especially when we’ve been in quarantine. But, whether you want your skin boldly bronzed or slightly sunkissed, self-tanner is always the best option. And your skin will thank you both today and decades down the track!

For more beauty tips and tricks, check out our blog


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Edited by: 
Pip Jarvis and Iris


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