Applying Self Tanner: 7 Mistakes You’re Making


Most of us love the results of a self tanner, but applying it can be such a hassle and if it isn’t done right, it can be a downright disaster. Don’t let the fear of using a self tanner keep you from mastering the application process, though. With some early prep, you can be sure to have a great looking, totally safe tan all summer long.

Here are 7 mistakes you might be making if you find yourself full of streaks or splotches.

1. You Apply Without Preparing Your Skin

Applying a self tanner takes thinking ahead. It can’t be a last minute decision if you expect to have great results. Try to plan a week ahead, even more if you have it. Big event in two weeks? This is the perfect time to start prepping your skin. Follow the next few steps for proper preparation.

2. You Apply Without Exfoliating

Exfoliating is the biggest thing that can bring a great, natural looking tan or a terrible, streaky looking tan. The reason is that if you have dead skin cells at the surface of your skin, they are already dead and if not right now, soon they will look flaky and ashy. When you add a product that will stain those dead skin cells, the flaky, ashy turns to streaky, splotchy.

We recommend exfoliating 3 times – every other day – prior to self tanner application. This is why step one is so important: do not rush into it. Use a store-bought exfoliator or make your own. You can even simply add some body wash to a handful of sugar for a super easy, very effective exfoliator.

While you need to exfoliate your entire body prior to self tanning, make sure you concentrate on those areas known for blotches such as the knees and elbows. (How to Exfoliate Your Body Head to Toe)


3. You’re Not Properly Moisturizing

Moisturizing prior to applying self tanner is a must. And it is best if you are deeply moisturizing for days before your tanning day to make sure that you have no dry patches. Dry patches are the number one reason for splotches.

Use a thick body butter or even something like cocoa butter or coconut oil every day, including the day you tan. Again, concentrate on areas like knees and elbows which are splotch magnets.

4. You Apply in a Rush

No matter what any product line tells you, there is no such thing as applying a self tanner as quickly as applying a moisturizer. It takes time and thought to put it on and rub in enough that you’ll be streak-free.

 Plan for a good 30 minutes (mom, lock those kids out of the bathroom so you don’t have to rush!) and start at your legs and make your way up. Go slow and make sure you get all of your skin without missing an area. We a full-length mirror to help you in areas you can’t see very well. Your back can be tricky, so if you can find a helper to do your back, that will be the easiest, but if not, just use the mirror to be sure you’re getting every area.


5. You Don’t Wear Gloves

If you apply self tanner without wearing gloves, your palms will turn a horrible shade of orange because you’ll be constantly adding more and more self tanner to your palms to rub it into your body. Use gloves to apply it to your body and then, to ensure that your hands aren’t obviously whiter than the rest of your skin, use a foam sponge often used for applying makeup, to apply to the backs of your hands and a bit on your fingers. Just a bit. And stay away from your nails.

6. You Apply At Night

A lot of people apply self tanner before bed, wait until it is dry and wake up in the morning to a streaky, splotchy mess. Sure, you can remove streaks and splotches, but they blend in so much faster if you notice them as soon as they become visible. (How to Remove Self Tanner)

We recommend applying when you have time to watch the tan start to appear – whenever that works into your schedule. Make sure you plan up to 4 hours for the tan to fully develop.

7. You’re Not Using a Gradual Tanner

While it may be tempting to buy the product that promise golden skin in 60 minutes, proceed with caution if you haven’t mastered a flawless tan application yet. Working with a gradual tanner like Jergens Natural Glow, you can build up a tan in anywhere from 3 to 7 days. We think this is best because as the tan starts to develop, you can see if you missed areas or concentrated too heavily on other areas. By the time your skin is fully tan, you’ll definitely have mastered the application process and can easily keep you tan looking great all summer long.


How to Remove Self Tanner

Most of us love a good self tanner. It can give us the look of a sun-kissed tan without any of the damaging effects of the real-deal. But it can be frustrating to get a good result, especially if you’re doing it on your own. Most people have experienced orange palms, blotches in areas like the ankle bone or elbows and knees and even when you think you’ve rubbed it in all the way, most of us are left with streaks. And sometimes people think they’ll love the look of a self tan until they actually get it on and want to get it off asap!

 Because more and more people are using self tanner, there are more tips and products in helping you get rid of those streaks and splotches. How to Remove Self Tanner


How to Blend In Streaks and Blotches

 Here are some tried and true ways to safely remove or blend in self tanning streaks or blotches.

 Lemon: Cut a lemon in half and rub it directly onto the streaky tan. Lemons (or limes, if you have them) contain citric acid which help exfoliate and bleach out the color.

Exfoliate: Hope in the shower and use an exfoliator over the streaky areas as soon as you notice them appearing. (On a side note, exfoliating will make your self tan go away faster, so if you have good results, save exfoliating until you need to reapply.)

 Witch Hazel: Apply to a cotton ball and apply to streaky areas.

Hop in the Shower: If you notice streaks appearing right away, hop in the shower or tub and let your skin soak in the water. It will dilute the strength of the tan and it will last a shorter amount of time. This is best if it can be done asap after the tan starts to show up. Use a washcloth over the areas that are most effected for a gentle but thorough exfoliation.

Self Tan Remover: They make products specifically for removing self tan but the reviews are mixed on the results. Definitely worth a try if you’re desperate. St. Tropez makes one that retails right around $18. (compare prices)

How to Remove Self-Tanner From Your Nails

It is always recommended to apply self tanner with gloves on so you don’t stain the palms of your skin or your fingernails, but it can also be tricky in making it not look like the tan stops at your wrist. If you find your fingernails got a bit of self tanner on them, try this trick.

Denture Tablets: Fill a small container with warm water and drop in a denture tablet or two and let dissolve. Soak your fingers for 5 minutes or so, brushing them with a soft nail brush or toothbrush until stains are eliminated. Denture tablets are super inexpensive and can be bought at any drugstore. (compare prices)


Next time you apply, make sure it’s not a rush job, and make sure you’ve prepped your skin before hand by exfoliating for a few days before you apply and by applying moisturizer so you don’t have any extremely dry parts which will soak in the tanner and leave darker splotches. Plan ahead and make sure you have time to watch your tan start to appear. While it may be convenient to apply your self tanner before bed, you streaks and splotches will be harder to remove when left for 8 hours verses an hour or two. Here are some more tips for a streak-free tan.


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