The Easiest (and Best) Self Tan

A natural, even, super-flattering glow is much easier than you think—and much easier than the back of many tanner boxes, along with countless articles on the subject, make it sound. The prevailing wisdom involves assiduous exfoliation, along with some super-awks time in the bathroom waiting for the tanner to dry—and we’re here to say neither is that necessary.

1. Body cream—or lotion, or lip balm, etc—makes everything 1,000 times easier and better-blended. A nice thick one like Rodin’s giant jasmine/neroli-infused tube is ideal. Smooth a good dollop of it between your palms and between your fingers (this will help prevent tanned palms), then dab the excess anywhere you have thicker or drier skin—your elbows, ankles, tops of toes, knees, etc. Thicker, drier skin pulls in more tanner, creating uneven dark spots and splotches that look decidedly unnatural. By smoothing cream over those areas, you make them a little more resistant to the tanner, and the result is an even glow instead of splotchiness.
Step-by-Step: The Easiest (and Best) Self Tan

Rodin Crema Luxury Hand & Body Cream

goop, $84

Slather on this silky cream alone or layered with olio lusso body oil. Either way, skin will feel hydrated and just a little bit scented with beautiful Neroli (it’s a member of the citrus family and packed with elasticity-improving Vitamin C).

2. The nice thing is, this principle works either way: If you forget about it and apply tanner without it, you can just go over the drier areas directly after you do the tanner—results are the same.
3. Once you’ve protected the drier spots from over-tanning, apply the tanner. We like to start at the feet because they’re the hardest to get right, so focus all blending attention on them. The feet have a jillion different odd angles, so make sure to get the tanner in there, so you don’t end up with blaring pale spots.
Step-by-Step: The Easiest (and Best) Self Tan

The Organic Pharmacy Self Tanner

goop, $69

For the perfect subtle, even, glow this self-tanning cream is 100% clean and non-toxic yet blends like a dream (streakless and soft), develops in three hours, smells faintly citrusy, and leaves skin smooth, supple, and hydrated—with a healthy, uniform tan any time of year. Made with a unique Ecocert-approved DHA derived from sugar beet, the resulting color is unbelievably balanced and natural; reapply every two days to maintain the gorgeous glow.

4. Move up your legs and just…blend. There’s no such thing as over-blending. It’s also hard to overdo the amount of tanner—adding more in a single application won’t make you tanner, it will just ensure no streaks, no missed spots, etc.
5. Only tan where you want no need to do your whole body unless you want to! (We do advise considering who might be seeing you naked if you’re going for the partial.)
6. When you’re done, wash your hands with beyond-thorough enthusiasm; “tanned” palms look ridiculous. When your hands are completely dry, put a bit of tanner on the back of one hand; rub the two backs of your hands together to blend the tanner. (A tan body and two pale hands looks crazy, too.)
7. Tear open a face wipe and dab lightly at the aforementioned thicker, drier spots. (Apply body cream to them now if you forgot to at the beginning.) When you’re through, use the face wipe to give your palms and between your fingers a final swipe.
Step-by-Step: The Easiest (and Best) Self Tan

Ursa Major Face Wipes

goop, $24

The company’s miracle 4-1 Face Tonic formula is infused into each individually-wrapped bamboo-cloth face wipe—use as a pH-balancing cleanser, gentle-but-powerful exfoliant, potent skin-healer, and firming hydrator, for all skin types. The wipes smell subtly of orange, fir, and lavender—refreshing after the gym, beautiful for taking off makeup, life-changing for the breakout-prone.

8. Instead of shivering naked in the bathroom, throw on a loose, dark-colored sundress, shorts-and-tank-top, or some such, and go about your business. You shouldn’t shower for at least eight hours (it’ll wash the tanner off), but there’s no reason not to get on with your life!
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