Thanks to the popularity of such Coppertoned Brazilian models as the uber-sexy Gisele Bundchen, sun-kissed skin is back in style. Want the look of a golden girl without the risk of sun exposure? Consider self-tanning — a safe and reliable way to go bronze. We asked the experts at the fabulous Bliss Spa in Manhattan for some tips on effectively faking it.
Most brands of self-tanner come in two shades: light/medium or dark/deep. For the most natural results, select a shade based on your skin tone, not on the color tan you desire. Fair-skinned women should use light/medium; darker-skinned women should use dark.
The active ingredient in self-tanners is dihydroxyacetone, which reacts with dead skin cells, turning them brown. So it’s a good idea to exfoliate really well with a scrubbing cream or shower gel before application to ensure that you’ll “tan” evenly.
Dilute the brew
Applying self-tanner to areas that tend to get a lot of dead cell buildup — elbows, knees, ankles —can be tricky. Try diluting your tanner with body lotion for use in those areas so that it goes on lighter.
Wearing gloves when applying lotion or spreading a spray is a good idea. It will keep your nails and palms from turning orange — a major self-tanning giveaway.
Never apply self-tanner in a hurry. Give yourself time to focus on distribution and make sure you don’t skip any spots. It’s also not wise to sweep on self-tanner, then throw your clothes on and rush out the door. If the formula hasn’t sunken in properly, it can rub off. Not only will you end up with an uneven tan, you may even ruin your clothes.
Before applying tanner to the all-important face area, make sure your skin is super clean and smooth. Wash thoroughly and exfoliate, then use a mask to absorb surface oils for best results. Choose a mild or medium-strength tanner for your face — you don’t want to risk turning too brown. If the color turns out to be too light, you can always apply a second or third coat.
Keep it up
Once you’re successfully sporting a base coat, reapply your self-tanner every three to four days to prevent the color from fading. Remember, even when reapplying, it’s important to dilute where necessary.
Last but not least
Do not, under any circumstances, think that just because you are now a golden girl, you’ve built up resistance to UV radiation. Artificial tans do not provide protection or sun stamina. So smother yourself with sun block before heading out the door.