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Our Guide To Self Tanner

by Lexi Smith |

We have a little secret that we want to share with you. Here at Pretty Lane we love that just-got-kissed-by-the-sun bronzey glow, and it's all fake.  Yes fake!  But fake doesn't mean it has to look unnatural (orange, blotchy, streaked) and we're going share with you our best tips to sporting the prettiest bronze tan without damaging your skin in the sun. Remember, your skin is your largest organ, and you only get one!

By now, we all know that damaging effects UVA and UVB rays have on our skin (premature aging, wrinkles, collagen breakdown, age spots) and it's not pretty.  We recommend soaking up a little Vitamin D from the sun when you can, but not for more than 15-20 minutes a day without sun protection.  Using a sunless tanning product is the best way to get a surge of color onto pale or washed out skin and the secret ingredient in every sunless tanning product is dihydroxyacetone or DHA.  DHA is a natural sugar that interacts with your skin's amino acids to give your skin a browning effect.  

How to achieve a perfect streakless tan

Step 1: Exfoliate your body and face.  

Use any exfoliator, buy avoid using any exfoliator that is in a cream or oily base.  Oil creates a barrier on your skin that doesn't allow your self-tanner to work well.  When exfoliating, make sure to concentrate on dry areas like elbows, knees and ankles.

For exfoliating the body, we recommend the South Seas Bora Bora Body Polish

For exfoliating the face, we recommend the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant.

Step 2: Shave 

Make sure to use a gel based shaving product is best.  

Step 3: Apply lotion to your face, elbows, hands, ankles, feet, and any other places on your body that might be drier and cause the self tanner to stick.  Also apply lotion to scars and age spots that can get darker with a self tanner.  If you have really blonde brows or hair, apply a lotion to brows and hairline.

Step 4: Apply self tanner with a mitt (for body) and brush or sponge for face.

Start by placing a small amount of self-tanner on your tanning mitt and start rubbing up and down your arms, legs and body.  Work the solution in until you can't see the product sitting on top of the skin, see any streaks or blotchy. For a deeper tan, apply a second layer.

The key to streak-free self-tanner is massaging the product it in and doing it a little bit more - you can't over-massage.

Do a light sweep over your ankles, knees or elbow with left-over product on your mitt.  

To do your back, tape your mitt to a wooden spoon and massage or ask a friend to apply.

Step 5: Let self tanner dry completely before putting on clothes.  If you don't want to sleep in your tan, use an express tanning product for during the day.

Step 6: Love your sun kissed glow!

To extend your tan, do not use any exfoliating products while you have your tan.  Use creamy products.   


Self Tanning your face

It is important to choose the right self tanner for your face if you’re acne prone or have sensitive skin, so go with self tanners specifically formulated for the face. Take a good look at the ingredients and make sure there aren’t any irrinants in the formula. When picking the color, you should go with something lighter than you think you want, it can look very unnatural if you’re all one shade anyways. 


*Pretty Pro Tip: If you’re nervous that your face will look unnatural, use a gradual self tanner to work your way to a beautiful bronze. 


Different types of sunless tanner

Gradual Self Tanner

Perfect for getting acclimated to self tanning because you can build it up, so it is less noticeable when making mistakes.


We recommend the St. Tropez Gradual Tan Classic Everyday Body Lotion.


Self Tanning Lotion

Self tanning lotion isn’t for the faint of heart, it is for the pretties who have experience with self tanning. It gives you a beautiful color in usually six to eight hours. 


We recommend the South Seas Tahitian Glow Self Tanner.


Self Tanning Mist

If the most dreaded part of your self tan routine is getting your pack perfectly covered, self tanning mist might be the type for you. It is super easy to spray hard to reach places, such as the back, when using self tanning spray, as well as super fast!


We recommend the South Seas Tahitian Tan Mist.


Self Tanning Towelettes

Self tanning towelettes are more used most often on the face than any other place on the body. They’re usually also formulated with chemical exfoliators to sluff off dead skin cells to give your bronzed skin a beautiful glow. 


We recommend the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads.


Self Tanning Mousse

Self tanning mousse, like self tanning lotion, gives a lot of coverage to the skin, but also has the downfall of being harder to use, so we recommend using a mitt for a flawless application. Self tanning mousse tends to be more streak free than self tanning lotion although.  


We recommend the South SeasSea Foam Tanning Mousse


Self-Tanner Drops

Self tanning drops are great because you can add the concentrated bronzed drops to your everyday holy grail lotion. 


We recommend the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops.