BRONZE AMBITION: HOW TO MASTER SELF-TANNER
How do they work? No matter what the texture or formula, self-tanners feature an ingredient called DHA (dihydroxyacetone), a type of sugar that interacts with your skin’s top layer to produce caramel-coloured pigments; the effect then gradually fades over a few days or up to a week. Here’s how to get a convincing, streak-free tint, whether you’re a first-timer or practically a pro.
If the idea of applying a classic self-tanner from head to toe with careful little strokes seems too tricky or time-consuming, you can now find innovative formulas that work their magic fast, right in the shower. For instance, St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Tanning Lotion is made to use right after you’ve washed. Apply the silky product on clean, wet skin, wait three minutes and then rinse off.
The result is subtle (but buildable with repeated use over a few days), so it’s great for beginners wary of overdoing it. Plus, there’s no sticky residue, and no reason to worry about staining your clothes.
TIP: No matter what self-tanner you use, you’ll achieve better results if you use a body scrub beforehand to create a smooth canvas. That’s because parched skin (like your elbows and knees) will absorb more DHA and darken unevenly, so you want to put extra effort into sloughing off dry, rough patches.
Stripping down in front of a salon aesthetician isn’t the only way to get a spray tan; you can mist yourself in the privacy of your own home. Look for a spray with a nozzle that works at all positions and angles, so you can hit harder-to-reach areas like your back. Fine, clear mists like Bioderma Photoderm Autobronzant Moisturizing Tanning Spray also dry down faster than traditional lotions, so you don’t have to rub it in, or wait before you get dressed.
The results with this technique are gradual, so a gentle bronze will develop after about a day. Repeat the application once daily to darken the hue until you’re happy, and then top up once a week to maintain the colour.
TIP: After applying any self-tanner, use a makeup wipe to clean your palms right away, so they don’t get too browned. If you forget to do that, you can help a faux tan fade faster by gently exfoliating the skin.
Once you’ve mastered the at-home-glow fundamentals, you can try more pro-level techniques, like contouring with self-tanner (a.k.a. “tantouring”). Similar to the way you would sculpt your cheekbones with makeup, you’re creating the illusion of shadow to shape a feature. Opt for a gel formula you can use on the face and body, such as the Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel, so you can more precisely control where you put the product.
On day one, start with an all-over application. Then the next day, use a medium-sized makeup brush or wedge sponge to apply (and blend!) more gel on strategic areas, such as the hollows of your cheeks, your collarbone, and the “V” of your cleavage.
TIP: You can also bring out the definition in your toned arms and legs. To see where you should target the contour, flex the muscle and notice where the light would create a natural shadow.