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These Self-Tanners Will Give You a Sun-Kissed Glow Just in Time for Summer

Prevention Logo By Jake Smith, Pia Velasco of Prevention | Slide 1 of 21: A sun-kissed glow makes any skin look more radiant and youthful. But that short-term tan from a day in the sun could have long-term consequences, such as a higher risk of skin cancer and premature aging. “A natural tan is a sign of DNA damage,” explains Deanne Mraz Robinson, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Westport, CT. Using a self-tanner is an easy way around those problems, offering that coveted bronzed look, no harmful UV rays required. But self-tanners can be intimidating, especially because they can leave behind streaks and stains if you don’t apply them correctly. So how do you choose a self-tanner that actually looks natural? Read on to learn the fine art of the faux glow, then pick the best tanning lotion, cream, spray, or wipe for you.How to choose the best self-tanner for youFirst, understand the ingredients: “Traditionally, self-tanners use DHA or dihydroxyacetone, which is a chemical derived from beet or cane sugar,” Dr. Robinson says. “It reacts with the amino acids in the outer dead layer of our skin, resulting in a darkening of skin tone. Alternatively, there are organic, sugar-based products, which use naturally derived sugars from fruits and vegetables to achieve that sunless glow.”Next, consider which application type is right for your skin type. Opt for oils, lotions, or gels if you have dry skin, explains Sophie Evans, a tanning expert and brand ambassador for St. Tropez. Mousses work great for most skin types and are easy to apply, but don’t last quite as long as other options. Wipes offer an easy solution for your face, especially if you have sensitive skin. As for sprays? They’re handy for those hard-to-reach areas.Most self-tanners are formulated for people with fair skin, but if your skin already has a bronze to it and you want to deepen its tone, look for products that specifically say “dark” on the label or skew toward formulas that offer radiance or shimmer. Of course, there’s no way to tell how a product will look on your skin until you try it on, so you might want to test a patch first.How to apply self-tanner to your face and body✔️ Prep your skin. Exfoliation—say, with a body scrub—is key to a natural, flawless-looking tan, Evans says. If you have the time, start exfoliating a few days before you apply the product; make sure all waxing is completed 24 hours before applying your self-tanner, as this will ensure the hair follicles have settled to help create a perfect finish. To prolong and maintain your tan, moisturize daily, exfoliate regularly, and re-apply with a gradual tanner as required.✔️ Be gentle with your face. Your face has a tendency to develop a darker hue due to its higher pH level, so use a self-tanner specifically designed for the face or use your favorite moisturizer to dilute the product before you apply it. “If you have very fair, bleached, or grey hair, I would recommend applying a light layer of moisturizer around the hair line to ensure a natural finish,” Evans says. Always remove your makeup first, too.✔️ Work from your toes to your head. “I usually tan my legs first and finish with my face,” says Evans. “I always work up the body.” Make sure you apply the tan everywhere so it looks more uniform. Using a self-tanner applicator mitt will also protect your hands from awkward stains, she explains. ✔️ Use enough product. Streaks often appear when you use too little self-tanner, Evans notes. You should use enough product to easily glide over your skin. If you feel any rubbing or pulling, you’re more than likely causing a streak.✔️ Fix mistakes by exfoliating. If you end up with an uneven tan, streaks, or a color you don’t like, the best way to remove a self-tanner is to apply baby oil to the area and leave it on for 10 minutes, says Evans. Then, use an exfoliating body scrub and finish by buffing the skin with a warm, damp wash cloth.Now, all you have to do is pick a self-tanner and wear it with confidence. Not sure where to start? Read on to find the top-rated self-tanners for every skin type to try this summer.

A sun-kissed glow makes any skin look more radiant and youthful. But that short-term tan from a day in the sun could have long-term consequences, such as a higher risk of skin cancer and premature aging. “A natural tan is a sign of DNA damage,” explains Deanne Mraz Robinson, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Westport, CT.

Using a self-tanner is an easy way around those problems, offering that coveted bronzed look, no harmful UV rays required. But self-tanners can be intimidating, especially because they can leave behind streaks and stains if you don’t apply them correctly. So how do you choose a self-tanner that actually looks natural? Read on to learn the fine art of the faux glow, then pick the best tanning lotion, cream, spray, or wipe for you.

How to choose the best self-tanner for you

First, understand the ingredients: “Traditionally, self-tanners use DHA or dihydroxyacetone, which is a chemical derived from beet or cane sugar,” Dr. Robinson says. “It reacts with the amino acids in the outer dead layer of our skin, resulting in a darkening of skin tone. Alternatively, there are organic, sugar-based products, which use naturally derived sugars from fruits and vegetables to achieve that sunless glow.”

Next, consider which application type is right for your skin type. Opt for oils, lotions, or gels if you have dry skin, explains Sophie Evans, a tanning expert and brand ambassador for St. Tropez. Mousses work great for most skin types and are easy to apply, but don’t last quite as long as other options. Wipes offer an easy solution for your face, especially if you have sensitive skin. As for sprays? They’re handy for those hard-to-reach areas.

Most self-tanners are formulated for people with fair skin, but if your skin already has a bronze to it and you want to deepen its tone, look for products that specifically say “dark” on the label or skew toward formulas that offer radiance or shimmer. Of course, there’s no way to tell how a product will look on your skin until you try it on, so you might want to test a patch first.

How to apply self-tanner to your face and body

✔️ Prep your skin. Exfoliation—say, with a body scrub—is key to a natural, flawless-looking tan, Evans says. If you have the time, start exfoliating a few days before you apply the product; make sure all waxing is completed 24 hours before applying your self-tanner, as this will ensure the hair follicles have settled to help create a perfect finish. To prolong and maintain your tan, moisturize daily, exfoliate regularly, and re-apply with a gradual tanner as required.

✔️ Be gentle with your face. Your face has a tendency to develop a darker hue due to its higher pH level, so use a self-tanner specifically designed for the face or use your favorite moisturizer to dilute the product before you apply it. “If you have very fair, bleached, or grey hair, I would recommend applying a light layer of moisturizer around the hair line to ensure a natural finish,” Evans says. Always remove your makeup first, too.

✔️ Work from your toes to your head. “I usually tan my legs first and finish with my face,” says Evans. “I always work up the body.” Make sure you apply the tan everywhere so it looks more uniform. Using a self-tanner applicator mitt will also protect your hands from awkward stains, she explains.

✔️ Use enough product. Streaks often appear when you use too little self-tanner, Evans notes. You should use enough product to easily glide over your skin. If you feel any rubbing or pulling, you’re more than likely causing a streak.

✔️ Fix mistakes by exfoliating. If you end up with an uneven tan, streaks, or a color you don’t like, the best way to remove a self-tanner is to apply baby oil to the area and leave it on for 10 minutes, says Evans. Then, use an exfoliating body scrub and finish by buffing the skin with a warm, damp wash cloth.

Now, all you have to do is pick a self-tanner and wear it with confidence. Not sure where to start? Read on to find the top-rated self-tanners for every skin type to try this summer.

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