Now that spring has arrived and it’s getting warmer we’ll want to peel back the layers of winter clothes. This often mean showing a little more skin! Begging the question...how to do we fake a tan naturally? An oxymoron at best, but we all know the damaging and downright deadly effects of getting a suntan, right? Of course you do! But if you still want a little color, there's nothing wrong with that...but there are some things you might want to consider before your next at-home fake-bake session.
We asked Kelly Richardson, founder of B.Bronz Sunless, sunless tanning expert and international industry guru for her top tips!
What ingredients should people look for or stay away from when it comes to buying self tanning products?
Little known fact: all self tanners, spray tanning solutions, and the like contain the same active ingredient, Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This ingredient is the only ingredient on the market that can produce a semi-permanent tan on the skin. It is often boosted with another plant derived ingredient, Erythrulose. Erythrulose is a more expensive ingredients and won't normally be found in a cost-conscious product, but it will give your skin a better brown color, and enable the tan to last longer.
After those two ingredients, it's definitely a rule of "less is more". You want to ensure that the "filler" ingredients in the product you are using are free of parabens, dyes, and only consist of things that are great for your skin. Many products are now infused with professional skin care ingredients, enabling the product to become more of a treatment. The active ingredients are clear in nature so if your product has a color to it, chances are that it is from a dye or artificial coloring.
What are the best formulas: spray, cream, mousse?
This really depends on how good you are at application, and what you are more comfortable with. I personally would choose a spray over a cream or a mousse.
Prep & Application
What do you do to prep for a long lasting self tan?
Exfoliating and prepping the skin is essential to a long lasting tan. Make sure to get your knees, elbows, face, neck, and feet (all of the dry spots) really good. The most important thing to remember is that you have to use a "water-based scrub". If you use a scrub that is made of oil, it will create a barrier that a self tanner cannot penetrate, and no color will develop. If you don't have a "water based product" use a loofah or a washcloth. No product is better than the wrong product.
Make sure the skin is dry before application, any moisture on the skin can lead to streaking. If you washed your hair and showered before applying product, make sure to dry your hair completely so water isn't running down your neck.
What are your best pro-self application tips for hard to reach places (hello mid back)?
With a spray you can reach behind and usually get your back fairly well, but if you are wearing a backless dress and/or a swimsuit find a friend, a.k.a. a "tanning buddy" and/or ask your partner.
How can you avoid streaky, uneven or patchy spots?
I always recommend that you cut a full strength self tanning lotion with regular lotion when applying to the hands, face, and feet areas. This will ensure the dry spots don't soak it up, and these areas are always a little bit lighter naturally. If you are using a spray, just apply it lighter to these areas.
Perfect & Enjoy
How do we correct mistakes (ie remove tan between fingers)
There are a ton of "home remedies" available on the internet, but before you scrub your skin dry using lemons, head to the bathroom and grab some cuticle remover. While it's probably not a good idea to douse your whole body in it, you can definitely use it to get rid of small mistakes. Leave it on a bit longer than the directions call for regarding your cuticles and scrub it slightly as you rinse it off. You might have to repeat once or twice, but it definitely will do the trick.
How do we prevent these mistakes in the first place (tanned heels/ too dark knees?
Avoid stepping in or on the product, especially if you are using a spray. Keep the product away from the heel area when applying to the feet, and cut with lotion.
Next, how to we keep that glow for as long as possible...How long can we expect the tan to last?
I always say that the "life of the tan, depends on how well you are taking your skin. It's important to drink lots of water (DHA can dehydrate the skin, especially if you are a regular tanner), apply lotion daily, and avoid anything that would exfoliate the skin - shaving, scrubs, oils, etc. Use "water resistant" sunscreen before jumping in the pool/ocean/lake and when you get out and get home from water exposure, it's a good idea to apply a tan extending product.
How do you apply product to look slimmer on body for the beach, pool or a special event?
In the spray tanning world, we've always had body contouring, now the trend is getting specific for the face. While some contouring can be done for the face with an airbrush it's best to stick with product. Tantouring is basically a semi-permanent way of contouring the face, using self tanning products. If you screw up (guaranteed the first time or two you will) grab your favorite facial exfoliant, a strong toner/astringent, and give yourself a good facial, the tanning products should come right up. On the flip side, it's important to stay away from facial products with AHA's, exfoliants, etc. during the time you are tantouring. Any exfoliation will remove the tan - stick to moisturizers only.
What tips do you have for using self tanning products on your face look more sculpted and slimmer?
1. Apply a gradual tanning product or tan extending lotion all over the face, if you can find one made specifically for the face I would use that, the B.Bronz Sunless Tan Extending Lotion will also work well.
2. Use a foundation brush and apply a full strength self tanner to the forehead. You can use a lotion or mousse, I would avoid using a spray for this.
3. Apply the same full strength self tanner under the cheekbone from your ears to the middle of the cheek area. Hit the spots the sun would - tip of the nose, tip of the chin.
4. Let the products develop for a few hours depending on how dark you want to go. When you are happy with it, use a mild soap to wash your face - don't scrub with the washcloth.
Kelly Richardson is the founder of B.Bronz Sunless, a paraben free sunless tanning line that has been used by numerous professional dance teams (NBA & NFL). She owns a chain of sunless only salons in California. An international industry guru, she spends her time training spray tanning technicians, and writing for beauty industry publications.