A big thanks to Veronika for today’s guest post. She has impeccable taste and is such an inspiration. You can see her tips and tricks over at Veronika’s Blushing.
Hi! My name is Veronika from Veronika’s Blushing and ladies, I have a confession to make: I’m a spray-tan-a-holic. No, I don’t verge on oompa-loompa (or Snookie!), but I love having tan skin as much as I love the color pink—but I’m not willing to risk getting skin cancer or wrinkles to get it.
You see, I’m a reformed tanning salon gal and I’ve spent the better half of the last decade testing products to achieve sun-kissed glow without the risk and damage. Whether you’re a novice or just looking for something new to try, here are my tried-and-true products to achieve a glow that would make even J.Lo do a double-take:
Go for the pro:
When you have a special occasion like a wedding or vacation, going pro is the way to go. Find a local spray tan salon by checking yelp.com or asking a friend. A professional will be able to airbrush your body and give you a more customized spray tanning experience—the best ones can even contour your body with the airbrush to make you look even more toned! Most places charge between $25-$60, definitely worth it if you want to look sun-kissed for a special occasion. Another option is to get a spray tan applied in a VersaSpa machine. It’s basically a booth that sprays you down like a person would, but it’s not quite as customized—still, the results are great and I’ve used VersaSpa many times and have been very happy with the results.
Self-tanners can be a disaster when you try to use them yourself. Even after years of experience, I sometimes end up with orange blobs around my ankles and feet. It’s a running joke in my circle of friends. Having said that, I’ve also tried a ton of different brands and have some insight into which ones give the best results.
I recommend starting with a gradual self-tanner like Nivea’s and then building up to trying full-on self-tanning formula. Gradual self-tanners don’t require the same precision as regular self-tanners—the active skin-tinting ingredient, DHA, is diluted in the moisturizing formula and with daily use, you can expect to get 1-3 shades darker in a week. They aren’t my favorite because you have to use them daily, but they are a good way to get started and best for those timid about tinting their skin. You’ll get used to application techniques without the risk of the dreaded orange streaks and blobs.
Get Your Glow On:
As far a full-on self-tanners go, I personally prefer airbrush formulas because I feel they are more “user friendly” and go on really sheer so mistakes are less likely to happen. My favorites are Neutrogena’s airbrush self-tanner and VersaSpa’s take-home airbrush self-tanning formula, which is the same product that is used in the machines, but in a can that you can use at home for ultimate convenience.
I always spray tan myself in my glass shower and then just rinse the shower off after I’m finished applying it. Use light, even strokes all over your body. I start at my legs and work my way up. I usually do 2-3 coats when I use a spray formula.
I’ve also used and continue to use self-tanning creams. Like I said, they are a bit trickier to work with, but they do give great color payoff. One of the best ones I’ve found is L’Oreal Sublime Bronze tanning gel. It smells awful but it does give incredible color payoff. Just be very careful with this one because it tends to leave orange blobs in certain areas if you aren’t blending it out and really applying it lightly. Another option is Hawaiian Tropic’s self-tanning mousse. It has a more pleasant smell and spreads really easily.
When it comes to your face, you may find you want to invest in a self-tanner that’s different than the one you use on your body. Even when I get an airbrush tan professionally applied, I wash just my face off before bed and apply Clarins SPF 6 tanning milk on my face. This is the best facial self-tanner I have found so far because it gives smooth, even color and is moisturizing.
Speaking of your face, a surefire way to get a glow without ever hitting the bottle (of self-tanner, that is) is to use a bronzer on your cheeks, nose and forehead. I love NARS Laguna and Bobbi Brown bronzer in “golden light.” Use a large, fluffy powder brush and apply it to your cheekbones to contour and also to the sides of your nose and your hairline. It gives instant color without being too obvious.
When you self-tan at home, prep is just as important as product application. Here are my best tips:
- Exfoliate and shave the night before you plan to self-tan
- Self-tan at night, right before bed and sleep with the self-tanner on so it can process overnight
- Get some inexpensive dark sheets to sleep in so you don’t get self-tanner on your light sheets
- Ask someone to help you apply the self-tanner to your back, if possible
- Let the self-tanner dry before putting on clothes (even if it’s before bed, it’s good to wait 5 minutes or so)
- Start from your legs, working upward, to avoid streaks from having to bend down if you start from the top
- Apply a heavy moisturizer to your knees, elbows and rough areas before self-tanning as self-tanner will cling to these areas and cause them to be darker than they should
- Stand on an old cloth or towel when you spray tan so that the bottoms of your feet are protected
- Use a shower cap to protect your hair from being sprayed