A Step By Step Guide to a Glowing and Safe Summer Tan

A Step By Step Guide to a Glowing and Safe Summer Tan Easy

Ahhh... What says "summer" quite like warm, glowing, tanned skin? I freely admit that I love having a good tan but once I learned about just how extremely dangerous a tan from the sun can be, I made the switch from laying out to laying it on. Sunless tanner, that is.

I know... Just the thought of sunless tans can evoke some not so happy mental images. We've all seen pictures and video of sunless tanner abuse and it's not pretty! But, when it's done right; when you prep well, take your time and maintain your tan carefully, you can enjoy a sexy, golden, glowing and safe summer tan without the risk of premature aging, skin damage or worst of all, skin cancer. A great sunless tan isn't fast or effortless, it's a look that requires some work and dedication but the results can be worth it.

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A Step By Step Guide to a Glowing and Safe Summer Tan Prep Step One

Step One: Cleanse and Exfoliate. The biggest secret to success when it comes to sunless tanning is clean, silky smooth skin that is free of dead skin cells and excess moisturizer. I like to use a clear shower gel like Lather Baobab and Shea Body Wash that gets my skin nice and clean but doesn't strip or dry it out. Next, comes exfoliation. Yep. It's gotta be done, gentle reader. Not only is exfoliation good for the skin, it makes all of the difference to the look and life of your sunless tan. I like to use a combo of scrubby shower tools and a good salt or sugar scrub. My favorite scrub is Soap & Glory Flake Away. The scent, the scrub, the clean rinse all make my skin feel like a New Thing. I am out of it, right now so I'm digging into my jar of Farmhouse Fresh Sweet Tea Whipped Body Scrub. I am loving the scrubby-ness and the soft, peachy scent as well as my soft, soft skin.

Have you tried the Via Buff Clinical Body Exfoliator? This Level Four puff is serious stuff. If you have sensitive or delicate skin, stay away from this bad boy. But, if you have very dry skin that can take a hammering, get one. It's life changing. It starts out white and over time it yellows, as you can see in my picture. If you want to scrub your back, check out the Daily Concepts Your Back Scrubber. Bye-bye itchy back and pretending I'm a bear, rubbing on trees. Wanna know a secret? I don't self tan my entire back. I don't run around in super skin baring stuff, so I just tan it enough to show tanned skin under collars or a slightly low backed top. *lazy hag Plus, I can use a lotion applicator and not bug the hubbs to help me. He gets squicked out by sunless tanner -weird- so I don't make him get into it. I'm such a nice wifey.

Okay, once you're all clean and scrubbed smooth as a rose petal, it's time for Prep: Step Two.

A Step By Step Guide to a Glowing and Safe Summer Tan Prep Step Two

Let's talk about blocking, hydrating and protecting. First of all, if you have long hair, get it up and contained. Dude, you do not want to get your hair mixed up in your sunless tanner. Especially if you're a blonde. Ask me how I know. I use a turbie like the Daily Concepts Your Hair Towel Wrap to get every strand up, covered and protected. Next, I grab a lightweight lotion like Lather Baobab and Shea Moisturizer and apply a small amount to any dry spots where tanner can collect and harsh my vibe, like my ankles, knees, elbows, wrists and the backs of my hands. I make sure to rub it in very well and let it sink in for a few minutes, so that it doesn't inhibit the action of my tanner. Now, it's time to block off any areas that I want to keep sunless tanner free and apply a thin, even barrier of Vaseline. Oh! If your nails are bare, apply a quick coat of fast dry base coat or a clear polish, just to protect your nails from getting tanned.

Once the last bit of prep is done, it's time to lay on that tan.

A Step By Step Guide to a Glowing and Safe Summer Tan Lay On That Tan

Okay, here is where the rubber meets the road. It's tanner time. Some people like to use a tanning mitt (like the one in the picture, above) or gloves. I just use this mitt for pictures. I've tried them in the past and they wrinkle, roll, split apart or shred on me. Too much raggle baggle. I usually just use my hands and wash them when I'm done so that I don't end up with tanned palms.

I like to start with my face, if I'm tanning it. Vita Liberata Self Tanning Night Moisture Mask offers a gradual, soft tan on my face that is nice for my fair skin tone. Vita Liberata Fabulous Gradual Self Tanning Lotion reminds me of my good old Jergens Natural Glow lotion. This hydrating formula drops into the skin and gradually provides colour. There's not much scent, which is nice. I like this but I think it's a little spendy for what it is. I will just buy the Jergens Natural Glow when this runs out. Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse puffs out a silvery green then works into the skin and turns clear. There is a pleasant scent, it's not funky or feet, like some tanners of old. I don't get three weeks out of my tan but it does last longer than any other sunless I've ever tried and I don't have to use tons of it to get the job done.

Like I said, earlier, I generally apply my tanner with my hands. I use a circular motion to rub the tanner in as evenly as possible. I make sure to be careful in areas where tanner can collect and form uneven patches and I'm especially careful around my wrists, especially underneath, so that I don't end up with grimy looking areas. After my tanner is on, I wash my hands really well then I use a couple of cotton pads to carefully apply to the backs of my hands, making sure to flex my fingers to get my knuckles evenly coated to avoid the telltale white streaks.

Now it's time to cool my heels for a few minutes to be sure that my skin is dry, then I can put on some lightweight clothes and let my tan develop. Once it's up, I go jump in the shower and wash off so that I don't get my sheets all gross. This is a good time to assess my tan and apply a little more tanner, here or there where it may be needed or give a scrub to any little spots where it may have bunched up.

A Step By Step Guide to a Glowing and Safe Summer Tan Bronze up

I can't talk about getting all golden and glowey without talking about bronzer. I'm still loving my Too Faced Chocolate Soliel Matte Bronzer. I'm nearing hitting pan on this one, you can't really tell from the photo but I'm pleased with the great big dip in the pan. I've actually started using a couple of other bronzers, lately and I'm kind of enjoying having a variety but the Too Faced is still my number one.

A Step By Step Guide to a Glowing and Safe Summer Tan moisturize it

Keeping my skin very well hydrated and soft is key to making my tan last and look it's very best, as long as possible. I know that I rave about this stuff all of the time but Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter Lotion and Body Butter are forever favorites. They drop into my skin and leave it so soft without feeling greasy or sticky and I adore the scent.

When a sunless tan starts to die, it's best to put it quickly out of it's misery; exfoliate to remove the remnants and start, again. I am not hardcore enough to do this, every week or two to stay forever tan but when I'm in the mood for some colour, these steps work very well for me.

Remember, a sunless tan is not in any way "protective" against UV rays. Nor, for that matter is a sun tan. Where did that idiotic old wives tale come from, anyway? Don't forget your sunscreen!

This is a collab with my fellow Makeup Wars bloggers so don't forget to scroll to the end and check out everyone's favorite sunless tanners and bronzers.

A Step By Step Guide to a Glowing and Safe Summer Tan

Thank you for dropping by and reading. If you found this helpful, won't you give it a share? I really appreciate it when my posts get shared, it helps get my stuff out there and seen by others who might find it useful, too.

23 comments

  1. What a great post, Erika! Vita Liberata makes incredible self-tanners!

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  2. I didn't know about moisturizing before applying the tanner post exfoliating. I only self tanned/spray tanned a few times in my life. Once - for my wedding (I mean, I was blending in with my dress) and a few other times for trips to hawaii. I don't go out in the sun in the summer much here in Arizona - too hot to enjoy it. I'm in the sun outside more in the winter. We are backwards. :)

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    1. Winter is an Arizonan's season to be free! lol I live north of the Valley but I remember well Phoenix summers, from when I lived there.

      I don't moisturize all over, just those hardcore dry spots that otherwise make me look like a bad, streaky old leather suitcase. Not a good look!

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  3. I'm fake bake all the way. I'm battling sun spots from a ridiculously spent youth. Only a healthy glow for me, now, so these are great tips! XO

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. A fake bake is the way to go! Have you tried AHAs, Vitamin C and Retinol for your sun spots? They have worked a treat for mine, as well as old acne marks that used to make me absolutely miserable. :)

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  4. Thank you for the "self tanner for dummys" info. I've avoided them because I had no idea how to properly use them.

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    1. You're welcome. Sunless tanner is a bit of a learning curve but once you get the hang of it, it's easy, just a little time consuming.

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  5. Vita Liberata is such a wonderful self tanner.

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  6. I like your very detailed approach to self-tanning!

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  7. Loved this post! This is why I wish beauty blogs existed when I was growing up. I may or may not have ended up looking like a streaky oompa loompa on a few occasions because I had no idea how to use a self tan properly, lol!

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  8. Chocolate Soleil is an old fave of mine. It never does me dirty!

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  9. Great tips! I have sun damage from my rash childhood (and early youth). Now, I use fake tan on my legs - it makes them look longer!

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  10. It’s been a long time since I have used a self tanner, and I’m sure the experience would have ended much better if I had these tips back then!

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  11. You have so many products/brands in here that I love. Especially FHF, those things all smell so amazing!

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  12. This is such a terrific post. Be sure to submit it to FF next week since you've included so much!

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  13. A company sent me tanner with a mit but thanks for the heads up on using it.

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  14. I always pick up ones that make me orange. I use to burn really bad and thought fake would help, but nope not for me! LOL, time management for sure does help tho!

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  15. I am super anti-tanning! I personally don't alter my skin tone but I am glad that these products exist for people who want to mimic the tan effect without harm.

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  16. Awesome tips! I haven’t done self tanner in years but I’m excited to try again with summer coming out!

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  17. I wrote down a couple of these products to try! I'm as fair as they come, so self tanners can go so wrong on me so quickly!!!

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