It’s a fact universally acknowledged that if you want a sun-kissed glow, it’s much better to fake it than risk serious sun damage. Even though self-tanning and
spray tanning at home is safer than tanning outdoors under the sun’s rays, there are still some minor aesthetic risks involved. Your spray tan could turn out streaky, your self-tanner could leave you orange all over, stain your hands and nails, or you could wind up with patchy coverage. That’s why, when it comes to at-home self-tanning and spray tanning, having a game plan backed by experts and thousands of 5-star reviews, is key.
Tanning at home is a multi-step process. There’s a laundry list of things to do before, during, and
after your tan to ensure it looks exactly how you want it. Exact step-by-step requirements will vary depending on the products you use and the desired results, but there are three hard and fast rules: Exfoliate beforehand Use a mitt during Moisturize after
“Follow the instructions that are on your self-tan and have trust in the product,” says
Sophie Evans, celebrity self-tanner and St. Tropez skin finishing expert. Another pro tip from Evans: “Make sure you have all your tanning essentials.”
Also, take a nice deep breath. It’s really not that complicated. Just make sure you tan your entire body. “One common mistake is forgetting to tan your ears and the back of your neck,” says tanning expert
Jordan Cook . If you’re worried about how to get those hard-to-reach areas evenly tanned, don’t worry. These tips and tools will have you covered.
Consider these 13 products the perfect tools for your tanning arsenal. According to expert tips by Evans and Cook and Amazon reviews, they’ll make self-tanning easier for you every step of the way — before, during, and after your tan.
About The Experts Sophie Evans is a celebrity tanning artist whose celebrity clientele includes Ashley Graham, Margot Robbie, and Halsey. Jordan Cook is a self-tanning guru. After working as a makeup artist with brands like M.A.C. Cosmetics and Urban Decay, Cook became the first global tanning expert for St. Mortiz. We at Elite Daily only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 01 Pre-Tan Exfoliator Mitt
Evans considers exfoliating an essential pre-tan step. “You’ll need to have a good exfoliator to prep your skin,” she says. This makes a lot of sense since we’re constantly shedding dead skin, so it’s smart to get rid of any flakiness or roughness so you’ve got a smooth canvas for your self-tanner. This exfoliating body mitt has an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon based on 6.1K reviews and self-tanning fans *swear* by it.
“This is a miracle for pre-self-tanner exfoliation. I’ve also found it takes off remnants of self-tanner. Not super abrasive or painful but it really does the job,” wrote one user. “A perfect way to exfoliate off dead skin before getting a spray tan or using a self-tanner. By doing so, the tan applies evenly and lasts longer. This item is worth every penny!” shared another.
02 Pre-Tan Exfoliating Scrub
If you’d rather reach for a scrub than an exfoliating mitt as part of your pre-tan skin prep, First Aid Beauty makes *bomb* body products and is a great brand to consider. This exfoliating scrub is top of its class with a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 19.7K reviews, several of which mention it being a part of users’ tanning rituals.
“Bought this for help removing spray tan and to help prepare skin for a spray tan. However, it made my skin so soft and smooth will use it all the time. Was better than any body treatment I have gotten at a spa,” shared one customer.
03 Top-Rated Self-Tan Applicator Mitt
Both Evans and Cook agree that a good tanning mitt is absolutely key to perfecting your self-tan at home and this is basically the top-rated tanning mitt on Amazon with a whopping average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 25K reviews, most of which are as glowing as the perfect self-tan.
“This mitt beats out all the sunless tan mitts I've ever used in the past. This gives you a very smooth and quick application because of its smooth and durable surface,” wrote one happy customer. “I have been using self-tanner for years now. I have practically become a pro just through trial and error. I have used other applicator mitts, even rubber gloves, to apply self tanner and this product is THE BEST one I have tried,” shared another.
04 Ultra-Lux Self-Tanning Applicator Mitt
“Double sided is always best,” when it comes to tanning mitts, says Evans. “It saves you time. Having a thick plush mitt is also better, as there will be zero chance the self-tan can absorb through and stain your palms.” This luxurious mitt from St. Tropez is Evans’ favorite and has a near-perfect score of 4.7 out of 5 stars, based on 3.8K reviews. “This is a game-changer for applying self-tanner,” wrote one user.
05 Four-Piece Self-Tan Application Kit
If you, like me, like to have options, a multi-piece set of self-tanning applicators might be right for you. This four-piece self-tanning set includes an exfoliating glove, a tanning mitt, a mini tanning mitt for the face, and a back applicator. Basically, the set has you covered from head to toe, and with a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 9.6K reviews, this kit is legit.
The biggest bonus, according to reviews, is that this kit speeds up the self-tanning process, which can be pretty arduous and time-consuming. “I usually have my husband help me apply self-tanners to my back and he also liked it and said it made a huge difference. I will definitely buy again in the future. Tanning application was so much faster, by at least 15 minutes,” wrote one customer.
06 Fast-Acting Self-Tan Mousse
One of the top-rated self-tanners on Amazon, this mousse is recommended for beginners and has an average rating 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 6.6K reviews. “THIS STUFF IS AMAZING! I can’t believe it’s so affordable,” wrote one fan who gave the mousse a 5-stars review. “No transfer on sheets or towels,” they continued, “and only minimal transfer on the clothes I put on immediately after, but it all washed out. As you can see from the before and after photos, this gave me an instant color and went on so smooth and even! I love it and use it every week!”
“If you’re struggling with the technique of tanning your hands and feet and just want something easy, try using a clear spray or mist so you don’t have to rub anything in,” says Cook. “Mist a light layer over your hands, ensuring that your fingers are kept apart as much as possible — the same with your feet and toes. Don’t rub or blend anything in. Leave it to develop and enjoy your perfectly tanned hands the next day!”
This tanning mist from St. Tropez has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 4.6K reviews. “Ladies & Gents, this is by far the best water bronzer I have ever used! You just spray around your face and neck and voila. It works fast,” wrote one reviewer. “Really natural looking tan, just mist your face at night and wake up with a tan, I also use it on my hands because it looks way better than self-tanning lotion,” shared another satisfied customer.
08 Self-Tan Brush Applicator
One pro-tip you might not know is that using a tanning makeup brush is a surefire way to get an even facial tan. “With a make-up brush you can get into all facial areas and no there is no need to wash your hands afterwards,” explains Evans. This tanning brush from GAIYAH has an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars based on over 25K reviews. “This brush has a super smooth even texture for application of tanning lotion on face or your feet and toes,” wrote one reviewer.
09 Oil-Free Body Lotion For Blending
Both experts interviewed for this piece recommend using an oil-free moisturizer throughout the self-tanning process. “[One of the] biggest mistakes is not moisturizing problem areas. Always moisturize your elbows, hands, the back of your wrists, knees, feet, the back of your heels, and any severe dry areas with a non-oil-based moisturizer,” says Cook.
She adds, “Orange hands and feet are the standard tanning giveaway. Moisturize these areas a little more with an oil-free moisturizer before and after tanning to really dilute the tan and help get into those wrinkles.” [
Meanwhile, Evans recommends using a moisturizer to help blend hard-to-tan areas like hands and feet. “My top tip is to blend a non-oil-based moisturizer up the crease of the heel and up the back of the wrist to ensure a seamless finish,” she shares.
Another expert tip is to keep cleansing wipes on hand to quickly erase any errors you make during self-tanning. “Always wipe nails, cuticles, and palms with a cleansing wipe to prevent staining,” says Evans. These Bliss wipes have a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars based on over 5K reviews.
11 Clear Self-Tanning Spray
An example of the clear spray option recommended by Cook is St. Moriz’s Clear Spray Tan In A Can. According to reviews on Ulta, this is a great spray tan option for users who struggle with self-tanning. One self-described “messy and clumsy,” reviewer called it “a great tan without mess.” Another wrote, “I am quite clumsy with applying the self-tanner; but this mist is quite fool-proof. Sprays clear, and sprays in all directions; so I can literally spray my back by myself.”
12 Oil-Free Tan-Building Moisturizer
“Moisturize every day after tanning,” says Cook, who recommends a self-tanning moisturizer be used once you’ve applied your spray tan. “It works with your tan to extend it and even gradually builds the color. It will keep the tan looking most natural for longer and also helps the removal process when the time comes.”
13 Post-Tan Dry Shampoo Hack
This hack comes courtesy of Cook, who calls it “a major top tip of hers.” Cook recommends applying dry shampoo after you’ve finished your self-tan. She says,
“A light dusting all over your body after you’ve applied your tan will take away any sticky residue, help prevent transfer onto bedding and clothes, and will help prevent you from perspiring while your tan develops.” Experts cited: Jordan Cook, Tanning Expert Sophie Evans, Celebrity Self-Tanner and St. Tropez Skin Finishing Expert Don't miss a thing
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