Seven Easy Steps to a Flawless Tan

by RuthAnn Ahnen

With summer fast approaching we are all looking for that perfect tan. It doesn't take a trip to a beach in the Caribbean, just careful application of a self-tanner. And it's better for your skin.

Experts tell us that the most harmful thing for our skin is exposure to the sun. It causes wrinkles, premature aging and increases the possibility for skin cancer.

Achieving a picture perfect bronze glow from a self-tanner starts with a well thought out approach continued to the planned application.

Before you start you have several things to consider: some areas to go over lightly (elbows and knees); other areas to avoid (palms, armpits, etc.) and where to start and stop (arms, ankles to toes). Consider your personal preferences and what you expect to get out of the self-tanning procedure. Answer these questions and you'll be well on your way to a great tan.

(If any of these steps conflict with the instructions on the product, by all means follow the product instructions. These seven steps are meant to help you generically through the process.)

Here are the seven easy steps to a flawless tan:

1. STARTING: Allow sufficient time to do the job right. It may take up to an hour, but remember it would take much longer to get the same color by lying in the sun. Just think about how much better this approach is for you skin-and best of all-no sunburn.

2. PREPERATION: First dry brush your body. A long handle shower brush does a great job. Then take a shower (no soaking in the bath tub). Exfoliate your skin either with a body scrub or washcloth. Pay special attention to the folds of the skin: elbows, neck, knees, ankles and feet. Since self-tanners tend to grab on to dry surface skin cells this will help achieve the desired uniform appearance.

Completely dry off after the shower, and apply a thin layer of moisturizer (lightweight is best) over the areas that you will be applying the self-tanner. Work the moisturizer into the skin as this will help the self-tanner move smoothly onto the skin.

Another important factor to consider is to apply the self-tanner when your skin is completely dry. No perspiration, never apply in a hot steamy bathroom. If it's a hot humid day apply in an air conditioned house.

3. APPLICATION: The self-tanner should be applied while you are naked, but you can wear an old swimming suit to help determine where you want your tan line to end. Think ahead where you want to stop and start the color. (Careful with the armpits and what about your heels, hands and ears?)

Applying self-tanner to your back requires a friend with a helping hand, although you can use a long handle brush (This may pose some problems of uneven application so be sure to be careful about blending the product in.).

Apply to one part of the body at a time. Even application is more critical than rubbing all the way in. To prevent tan palms, you can try using surgical gloves to apply the self-tanner. Gloves that are tight fitting work best. Another option is to wash your hands every few minutes or after you apply the self-tanner to a part of your body.

4. SMALL AREAS: You may find that the self-tanner works better in some area of the body than others. For example, some people find that their legs turn brown more easily than their arms or torso. While others find their face or neck changes color fastest.

Experience will help you determine which is true for you. Be careful around areas you don't want additional color, such as: nose, eyes, ears, hairline and lips. To help blend a thin even amount around those areas it's best to use a cotton swab, makeup sponge or synthetic makeup brush.

You don't want light hair turning color, so you can apply a layer of conditioner or Vaseline over the hairline.

5. MISTAKES: Mistakes can cause streaky or dark areas of the skin. Use a defoliant over these spots. Then the following morning exfoliate these areas with a wet washcloth. This should rub off and uneven stripes.

Take special care with problem areas. As an option with your hands (which can be particularly tricky to look natural) apply self-tanner as you would a moisturizer but then quickly wipe off your palms with a slightly soapy washcloth. Then take a Q-tip dipped in cleanser; eye makeup remover (one that is not greasy so it doesn't spread or smear), or nail polish remover and carefully use it to wipe around the nails and cuticle area and between the fingers.

You can also use a makeup sponge to apply self-tanner to the back of your hands, tops of your feet, temples and hairline. By holding the sponge deftly between two fingers you only need to worry about preventing this small area from changing color.

6. FINISH STEP: Wait at least 15 minutes before you get dressed. Remember that self-tanners will stain clothing until there are completely absorbed into the skin. Also, it's not a good idea to exercise or swim for about three hours. As always, be guided by the instructions on the product label.

7. RE-APPLY: As you feel the need you can re-apply the self-tanner. It will start fading in three or four days. Of course, as you get better at the application you can adjust these steps to make it work best for you.

I wish you safe tanning and many compliments.

About the Author

RuthAnn Ahnen is a California trained beauty consultant. She is currently running three successful home based businesses and through her internet site is helping women accross the country become more beautiful one woman at a time.

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