With the abundance of excuses to step out of your apartment this time of year, despite arctic conditions—clad only in a pair of outrageously sexy Diego Dolcini sandals and a skimpy metallic sheath dress—baring a pasty, pallid, not-seen-sun-for-months shoulder or pair of legs could easily threaten the whole ensemble.
“The best way for skin to get color any time of year is with a bottle,” says Janice Cook, the director of spa operations for the Mario Tricoci Hair Salons and Day Spas in Chicago. “Everyone likes to have some color, especially around this time of year—and the self-tanning treatment is one of our most popular services.”
“The color should always be a very natural tone—neither orange, nor too overtly bronze,” says Cook. “And the end result should be as if you’ve lain out in sun for half an hour.”
The most important first step in any self-tanning treatment is exfoliation. “This is the vital part,” says Cook. “People always think that moisturizing is the key to self-tanning, but if you haven’t exfoliated enough, no matter how expensive your moisturizer is, it won’t hydrate your skin properly and you could still end up with a streaky tan. The best tip for any skin care product to work is to exfoliate first; this removes dead surface cells and makes sure the self-tanning product doesn’t look patchy on the skin—the color will be spread evenly, and it won’t be darker in some areas.”
Moisturize the skin well before applying self tanner.
To apply the sunless tanning product, warm the product a little in the palm of your hands and use long, gliding, even strokes until the product is thoroughly blended in.
“Pay particular close attention to the areas like elbows, knees, ankles, and feet,” advises Cook. “Any area that is dry, or has calluses, will be where the self-tanner will stick. Use a wet sponge, or a wet Kleenex, to blend the self-tanning product in and around those areas. In our self-tanning kit, we supply a pair of close-fitting vinyl gloves, but if you don’t use gloves, wash your hands immediately and use an exfoliant to scrub hands afterwards.”
Now that you’ve washed, you still want your hands to
look as if they belong to the rest of your beautifully-tanned body: Dot a small blob of self-tanner onto the back of one of your hands and rub it in with the back of the other hand.
If you’re not into wandering around stark naked, throw on some loose, dark-colored clothing and get on with whatever business may be at hand.
After two to three hours, when the product has darkened on the skin, apply another layer for a deeper, more tanned effect.
Maintaining a sun-kissed glow is simple. “Using moisturizer every day will prolong the color,” says Cook. “And you can reapply the self-tanning cream every second to third day. After a week, you should repeat the entire three steps again—exfoliate, moisturize and self-tanner. Wash with a pH-balanced product rather than a soap, which can be too alkaline and turn the tan yellow.”
And one other trick to fool everyone that you’ve just stepped off a yacht in St Tropez—”Smooth a little dry shine oil over the shoulders and legs for a really sexy shimmer. It’s light enough not to make the skin feel oily and will help to protect from dehydration.”