3 Self Tanning Tips Sure to Boost Your Tanning Experience

3 Self Tanning Tips

If you’ve ever applied self tanner I guarantee you’ve overlooked at least one of these three self tanning tips.  Or perhaps I’m talking to you, the self-tan virgin, who happened to land here after spending 30 minutes Google-ing “How to Apply Self Tanner for the First Time”.

You’re not alone.

Here are three self tanning tips to help boost your sunless tan experience.

1) Make sure to give yourself the proper time to dry.

Applying self tanner is not a game of “who can apply it faster”.  It’s not something you apply as you’re running out of the house.  Or while you’re driving to work drinking your Venti triple espresso 4 pump Vanilla macchiato and putting on mascara.

Now don’t read me wrong.  There are many different types of self tanners.  They’re different in consistency, different in color, and definitely different in dry time.

Usually, they direct you to wait about 10 minutes before you get dressed.  About an hour later you will feel completely dry.  Personally, I strip naked and do a couple laps around my house to air out before putting my freshly tanned bum on any of the furniture.

To each their own.

Allowing your self tanner the proper amount of drying time will result in a smooth, streak free sunless glow.

2) Wash your hands directly after you are finished applying.

I mean how many excuses have you come up with to answer the question “Why do your hands look so dirty?”  And really, the answer “Oh I was just outside building sand castles” can only last for so long until people start questioning your mental capacity.

But we’ve all done it. Some self tanners have gradual color change and after applying you really can’t notice the color on your hands… until five hours later when it looks like you’ve been in a muddy lake panning for gold.


All self tanners will advise that you wash your hands with soap and warm water scrubbing thoroughly after you apply your self tanner.  If done directly after application you can scrub off most if not all of the remaining color.

Other options for application are available.  You can find self tanning application mitts at most beauty stores.  The mitt’s fabric makes for a smooth, even application and is reusable without staining your hands.  Now if this doesn’t tickle your fancy I’ve found that a pair of elastic gloves stolen from your last doctor’s visit will do the trick just as well.

Using a beauty mitt or gloves will help keep your tan looking fresh and natural, with a streamless color transition from your forearm to your hand.

3) The immediate color is not the final color.

As noted before, all tanners are different.  Some tanners have a “color guide”.  This is only an indication of how the tan will look.  It is a dark color and is used to help apply your product evenly.  The color guide will be washed off after your first shower leaving a much more natural and even tan once it is removed.

If your tanning product does not have a color guide you will see your color progress throughout the day.  In some instances you will feel like you are putting lotion on rather than self tanner due to the lack of immediate color change.

Before deciding to re-apply, make sure that you give yourself the allotted time to see the product do its magic.  I prefer to apply the product at night and let it do its work while I am sleeping.  I usually give it a good 8-10 hours, sometimes 15, depending on how many glasses of wine I had the night before.

In the morning is when I shower and either wash off the color guide or , if not, is about the time my color has reached full potential.  At that time is when it is safe to re-evaluate if you need another coat of tanner. It is always easier to add than it is to subtract.

It’s as easy as that. 

  1. Give yourself the proper application and dry time.
  2. Wash your hands or use a sunless tanning mitt.
  3. Allow the product to work before applying further.

If you do this I promise you will have a good experience and a beautiful sun kissed glow.

Are there any tips that you think I missed?

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.  And be sure to check out our updated ranking and reviews of the best self tanners.

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Category: Self Tanning Tips

About the Author

Emily Andrews is the Editor-In-Chief of SelfTanning.com. As you can imagine, Emily loves anything and everything having to do with self tanning! She's also a big fan of shopping (duh), tiny Yorkies and football.