How to Prep Your Skin for Self-Tanner

 The masterpiece of self-tanning is not without a little bit of prep work. To get the best results, it is important to prep your skin. Here are the basics:

  • Ideally, you should exfoliate 2-3 times a month. You’ll want to rid your body of any dry flakes and patches prior to applying self-tanner. Consider using a coconut oil as a moisturizer. Unlike other oils or moisturizing creams, coconut oil does not contain high-contents of water or petroleum. Having a well-maintained skin base will alleviate any potential streaking issues due to dry skin.When selecting a scrub, it is important to choose a scrub that leaves your skin feeling smooth and beautifully nourished. Look for clean beauty and buy when you can; the keywords for clean beauty are sulfate-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, and cruelty free.
  • If you need a wax, manicure/pedicure, or need to shave your legs, perform these tasks prior to applying self-tanner because these things can remove or distort your color results.
  • This is probably the most obvious prep item, but it’s important to thoroughly dry off. Any excess water can cause discoloration and streaking.
  • Apply a lightweight lotion on your face, knees, elbows, and around your ankles. You definitely do not want to go overboard, but the tanner will last longer if your skin is moisturized.

Remember, when selecting your self-tanner, choose the color that best matches your skin tone instead of the desired skin tone you are trying to achieve. Mousses are easier to rub in, but sprays sometimes work better for those hard to reach places. When applying self-tanner, make sure you move your hands in a circular motion and work from the bottom of your body (toes and feet first!) and move up – save your arms and hands for last. Check the directions and take note if a latex glove is recommended for application. Also, waiting times can vary as some tanners require up to a 30-minute drying time after you’ve applied the tanner. 

Some other general things you’ll want to avoid:

  • Avoid water (showering & swimming) for at least 7 hours.
  • Don’t go to the gym and/or do anything super physical. Sweating can cause the tanner to melt away.
  • Avoid using any eye drops. A tiny droplet of water could be the ultimate sabotage to your perfect tan.
If you’re struggling with finding the perfect self-tanner, check out They have a ton of great recommendations and rate them based on several categories. Whether you are a first-time self-tanner or a regular, there are a number of new products and application tips.