We’ve all experienced the disasters–the streaks, the blotches, and the pale voids that are the inevitable result of using a self-tanner. After enduring my own failed attempts that led to the need to wear long pants on hot days (lest the world know I screwed up in my quest for bronzed beauty), I finally landed on a foolproof method to get a realistic-looking tan without the glitches.
Start with a gradual-tanning moisturizer. I haven’t found a huge difference among the brands, but my favorite is Nivea Sun-Kissed Firming Moisturizer. Exfoliate your skin, then follow the application directions. Be sure to use a lighter tough on areas such as knees, ankles, and elbows, since they tend to absorb more color.
Now here’s what the manufacturers don’t tell you: STOP using it when your skin reaches your desired shade of tan. Slathering it on past day five or so tends to turn your skin spotty and speckled. (NOTE: I’m speaking primarily to baby boomer women who no longer have perfect, supple skin. If you’re a 20-something cutie whose skin looks good no matter what you glob on it, please stop reading and refer your mom to this blog.)
After using nothing but regular moisturizer on the tanned parts for a few days, resume use of the gradual tanner. A day on/a couple of days off is a good rule of thumb. You’ll retain the color you want without the side effects you don’t want.