It's all in the preparation

sunRaysCredit: pippalou

Many people would love to have a sun-kissed glow all year around but if you can’t achieve that, then self-tanning is surely the next best thing. You may feel a little daunted about the sheer range of tanning products that are out there, from gradual to instant tans to wash-off ones, but this basic guide will help you get started and improve your tanning routine. If you follow these steps then hopefully you can look naturally (well, almost naturally!) tanned throughout the year. So here are my simple top 5 tips for tanning success...

SpongeCredit: pippalou

 1.    Exfoliate

 Before you apply any tanning products, preparation of your skin is key so always make sure your skin tone is even and clean by exfoliating first! There are many body scrubs available and even the ones with finer granules will still give you a gentle exfoliation, plus they have the benefit that they can be used all year round.

Use your hands to massage the scrub into the skin, or invest in a simple body puff from your local chemists/drug store. In the winter months our skin can be prone to dryness, flakiness and can lose moisture in the colder air, so tip two helps us combat that...

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2.    Moisturize

 After your skin is clean and dry, ideally after a shower or bath, apply your moisturizer to lock in some hydration to your skin. Not only will this help to give you softer skin, it will also help protect your skin from dryness. In terms of tanning, using a moisturizer will help provide an even surface for the product to absorb.

However, if you’re on the go and can’t be bothered with the hassle of moisturizing then don’t worry because lots of brands have in-shower moisturizers, making moisturizing easier, quicker and hassle free! For example, Nivea do an in-shower body moisturizer for normal skin and they have a different formulation for dry skin. The great thing is that the product is activated by water and instantly absorbed so you don’t have to wait or spend time on this step if you don’t want to.

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3.Protect those dry patches!

 No matter which way you have moisturized your skin, those elbows, ankles, knees, the bottom of your feet and your hands are the places where fake tanning products will like to cling to. To address this, apply a small amount of Vaseline or moisturizer to these areas as this will help provide a layer of moisture for the self-tanning product to rest on and will stop any dry patches absorbing the product.

In addition, if you are using the ‘St Tropez Everyday Gradual Tan for Face’, then put your hair back in a hair band and go along the hairline and around your eyebrows with Vaseline or moisturizer too. Protect any dry areas this way, and your tan will not only look more even and radiant, but more natural looking too.

Sun LotionCredit: Prawny

4.    Self-Tanning

Now that your skin is properly exfoliated, moisturized, and dry patches are protected, we can get on with the fun part, the actual self-tanning! Now, a beginner may like to start with a gradual tanning product such as the ‘St Tropez Gradual Tan’ because it’s easy to use, helps create a buildable tan and is therefore relatively fool-proof.

In addition, "fast-acting tanning products can clog pores or make them appear bigger and darker. Because gradual tanners are not as harsh on your skin, using them can help you prevent acne and other skin problems".[3]

If you're new to self-tanning then one of the best ways I found to get started is to use a gradual tanning product. You may ask why should I moisturize and protect dry patches when using the St Tropez Gradual Tan, isn’t it a moisturizer too? Well, the reason for this is because it will not only enhance the durability of your tan, it will also help to provide you with an even fading tan with no blotchiness.

This is because you’re giving the tanning agent a layer of moisture on which to sink into first, before your skin. You’ll then be more likely to achieve a nice, smooth and even tanning result. I have used this product for years and it’s definitely a go-to tanning product for me.

Below is YouTube Beauty Guru Lindsay or ‘LaFemme5278’ taking about why she too likes this particular gradual tanning product from St Tropez.

St Tropez have a light/medium and medium/dark product formulation in the range and although in most cases, people would say pick the one that you feel best matches your skin tone, in this case I would recommend the medium/dark product even if you have pale skin because the product is not too heavy and will still give a lovely glow on paler skin tones.

But stop! Before you open that bottle and start applying the product, protect your hands from staining by wearing either latex gloves, a tanning mitt or through moisturizing them first too! Tanning products love to stick to the skin on our hands so you don’t want your tan to be obviously fake!

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5. Routine and Maintenance

 You can carry out the above routine every two to three days or once a week and you’ll still see results. If you have a party, big event or holiday coming up, then the week before you could even self-tan every evening using this product to get gorgeous beach ready, glowing skin! Remember that whenever you have used a tanning product, wear loose, dark clothing afterwards whilst it dries to help prevent it staining and marking any of your best clothes.

Once you’re more confident with building up your tan through using a gradual tanning product, you could try progressing to wash-off tanning products (which can be quite intense in color) and then instant tans. But there's nothing wrong with sticking to the good old gradual tanning because you can always build up the color to exactly how you want it.

BeachCredit: Albertinis69


Self-Tanning at home can be enjoyable and is certainly cheaper than going to a salon and having a tan professionally done. In addition, all this moisturizing will not only give you smoother skin, it will also increase blood flow to the skin which can delay wrinkles and premature aging!

So show your skin some love and even if you decide not to try tanning, then maybe start with moisturizing in the shower and see if you can feel a difference to your skin.