Practice Safe Sun: ABS’ Guide to Self-Tanning

August 7, 2009


I’ve never been one to enjoy laying out in the sun – it’s ridiculously hot, I get sunburn and start peeling, and I’d just much rather be indoors basking in some artificially cool air. But that’s not to say that I can’t appreciate the allures of tanned, golden skin! I happen to have a mini obsession with ultra pale skin (just ask Ana!) so I never thought I’d love self-tanner, but it’s pretty amazing stuff. Who knew a tan could make my flabby legs look leaner and more toned?

So for the self-tanning novices out there, here’s a mini guide!

Before you start…exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate!!! When applying self-tanner at home, exfoliation is really the key to a nice, evenly developed tan unless you’re intentionally going for the zebra look. Focus on dry areas with scaly skin, such as the elbow, knees, ankles, etc. to ensure that your self-tanner doesn’t hit any snags mid-application. My two current exfoliators of choice are Antidote Skincare’s Go Slough Yourself ($15) and Elemental Herbology’s Beach Prep ($37).


If the skin on your body likes to act up like mine does, Go Slough Yourself is some pretty amazing stuff as it contains salicylic acid (making this also great for your face if you’re breakout prone), diatomaceous earth (also in one of my fave Philosophy face scrubs), passionflower extract and D-alpha. This exfoliator is actually quite scrubby (a pet peeve of mine is scrubs that don’t actually scrub) and dramatically softens and smooths my skin and I don’t plan to be without it for a single day! Plus I just love that I can use it on my face in a pinch.


Elemental Herbology’s Beach Prep is fabulous for those of you with dryer skin, as it contains hydrating Buriti and Macadamia Oils and radiance boosting Kombuchka and Fig extract in addition to exfoliating sugar and fruit enzymes. It leaves a later of moisturizing goodness on your skin, saving you the trouble of applying lotion post-scrub!

Choosing a self-tanner can be overwhelming I know! I’ll just lay out a few basic options for you, depening on what is it that you’re looking for.


To naturally develop a subtle, barely-there glow of sun-kissed color, try Elemental Herbology’s Sun Kiss ($39), a daily body hydrator that contains an eco-certified self-tanning agent derived from sugar beet. You won’t see a dramatic color change, but the subtle tanning agent will leave your skin with a beautiully hydrated healthy glow while boosting your skin’s anti-oxidant activity. Plus it contains some great ingredients such as watermelon seed oil, macademia oil, olive oil, pomegranate, aloe vera, lavender and fig extract.


For a flawless golden tan without the funky self-tanner smell, check out Antidote Skincare’s All Seasons Glow ($42), my current self-tanner of choice. Using All Seasons Glow, even a beginner like myself is able to get a streak-free gorgeous tan that develops to the perfect shade. This stuff has a somewhat scary bronzey/brown tint to it that acts as a color guide so that you can actually see where you’re applying it, has a pleasant smell and is all-around amazing! Definitely a mainstay in my summer arsenal!


If you really don’t want to get your hands dirty, there’s always Sevin Nyne’s Tanning Mist ($35), brought to us by none other than Lindsay Lohan! I haven’t tried this one myself and I’ve heard that it can get a little messy (which I guess is inevitable with a spray can) but you really can’t beat the ease of a spray!


And last but not least we have Kate Somerville’s Somer360°™ Tanning Towelettes ($48) which pack your self-tanner into 8.5 x 11 towelette form. These have a light, citrusy scent, dry quickly, and develop within 2-4 hours. Another favorite of mine!

So now that you’ve chosen a product, how to apply it? Well the sprays and the towelettes are pretty self-explanatory, but if you decide to go the manually-applied-with-hands route, here are a few tips.

1) After exfoliating but before applying self-tanner, rub some lotions on the dryer/wrinklier areas of your body such as your wrists, ankles, knees, finger, toes, and ankles.

2) Wearing latex gloves, start with your calves, then do your feet and work your way up. Lightly glide over the areas you’ve applied lotion to using your self-tanning agent, but don’t linger on those spots for too long.

3) Don’t forget to focus on easy-to-miss spots such as behind the ears, behind the knees, underarms, etc.! You don’t want to look like a tanned dalmation!

Since there’s no way I can give you a full spiel on self-tanning in this post, I highly suggest you check out these wonderful videos by Antidote’s founder, Sinead Norenius, found HERE. I found them exceedingly helpful I hope you will too!

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