Whether it’s an airbrush tan or a self-tanning lotion, follow these 10 tanning commandments to get the perfect faux tan without any of the faux pas.

Since I haven’t been as active in fitness lately, I’m getting the chance to work on some beauty posts for the new beauty section of So Fit So Pretty!


1. Thou shall exfoliate 24 hours prior to faux tanning

Make sure to properly exfoliate 24 hours prior to tanning. This gets off all of the dead skin cells and creates a new “canvas” for the color. Don’t shave immediately before a tan as the color could look splotchy in places when it gets into the follicles or pores of the skin or cause irritation.

10 Commandments of Faux Tanning

Sugar scrubs work great as exfoliants prior to self-tanning. I typically use an exfoliating mitt in the shower because I feel like I have more control and feel that it does a better job and sloughing off the dead skin cells.

10 Commandments of Faux Tanning

2. Thou shall choose the correct formula for the skin tone

Knowing your skin tone is important when it comes to creating a natural looking faux tan. If you have yellow undertones, you don’t want to use a yellow-based self tanner or you’ll end up looking like you have jaundice. Also, take into account your hair color. Warmer hair tones can get away with warmer skin tones, while if you’re pale and have a dark, cool-toned hair color, using a warm tone will also make you look yellow and unnatural. (I am using St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse, which has more an olive tone).

10 Commandments of Faux Tanning

3. Thou shall wear dark/loose clothing 

It is the best idea after applying or receiving a faux tan to wear dark or loose fitting clothing. Tight clothing can create unwanted tan (or lack-of-tan) lines and rub off parts of the color where the fabric is tight against the skin. It’s also always a good idea to wear dark clothing to avoid any of the guide DHA color from getting on light clothing and staining.

4. Thou shall not shower for 5-8 hours after tanning

One of the biggest rules of self tanning. Sweating or showering too soon after a tan will stop the DHA from developing and leave you with a possibly uneven – or non-existent looking tan.

Faux Tanning

5. Thou shall not over-apply product

To avoid looking like you just rolled around in a bag of Doritos, make sure you don’t OVER-tan yourself. Start with one coat all over the body and wait an hour or two. If you don’t feel like you’re dark enough, add a second coat, but always judge the color so you don’t wake up the next morning looking like an oompa-loompa.

6. Thou shall moisturize regularly

Your faux tan fades when dead skin cells reach the surface of the skin and slough off. Prolong your tan by moisturizing your skin regularly. Use a sulfate-free moisturizer whenever possible. Sulfates are preservatives and are used in products with a shelf-life. Sulfates break down the tan quicker and can create uneven splotches. Avoid sulfates in your moisturizers whenever you can, or opt for a specific faux tan moisturizer to prolong your color.

Exception: Don’t apply moisturizer or lotion immediately before tanning, as the color won’t absorb as well into the skin.

7. Thou shall pat, not rub dry

When getting out of the shower, pat yourself dry with a towel, rather than rubbing. Rubbing the towel against your faux-tanned skin will create a micro-exfoliating effect, and can rub off areas of your tan where the dead skin cells have reached the surface, leaving you streaky and uneven.

10 Commandments of Faux Tanning

8. Thou shall stay away from oils

Oils create a barrier to the surface of the skin and prevent the tan from absorbing. Once you have a tan on the skin, adding oil to the top of a tan breaks it down and fades quicker and can become splotchy. My advice? Just avoid oils altogether when you have a faux tan. Yes, baby oil included.

9. Thou shall always use a glove or mitt

These are the easiest ways to apply self-tanner or blend tanning spray into the skin and avoid the tell-tale sign of a poor fake tan job; orange hands. Dispense the product directly onto the mitt and use circular motions to apply the product to the skin.

10 Commandments of Faux Tanning

10. Thou shall buff, buff, buff!

Whether you’re apply self-tanner with a guide-color, or a white or clear lotion for a gradual tan, it’s important that you buff everything in until there are ZERO lines and streaks. Yes, I have gotten hand cramps from blending until I thought my arm was going to fall off, but the better you blend, the better the end result.

10 Commandments of Faux Tanning

Stick to these 10 tanning commandments and you’ll have a perfectly natural, streak-free faux tan!

10 Commandments of Faux Tanning

What are your top tanning tips?


Thanks for reading!

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