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8 Sunless Tanning Tips

Linda has written content for national fashion and beauty websites. She enjoys sharing style trends and tips with her readers.

Sunbathing may be a fun social outing, but it exposes your skin to harmful UV rays.

Sunbathing may be a fun social outing, but it exposes your skin to harmful UV rays.

Taking in UV rays is a popular summer vacation pastime. Whether lying by the pool, on the beach or in a tanning bed it is just downright bad for your skin. Skin cancer, premature aging, wrinkles, eye damage and allergic reactions should be enough to scare anyone away from being an avid sun worshiper.

However, you still yearn for that sun-kissed look year round. You say a tan reduces the need for makeup and gives you a radiant and healthy glow. So how can you achieve this look without exposing your skin to those harmful sun rays?

Sunless tanning products (lotions, sprays or wipes) are your answer. Bottled tans have been around for years. Earlier versions tended to dye the skin unevenly creating a mosaic of lovely orange blotches. Luckily, formulations and ingredients have greatly improved. If you haven’t tried a sunless tanner lately now is the time to take the leap.

Before you start here are a few handy tips that will help ensure you get professional-looking results.

Remove dead skin that can affect your sunless tan by exfoliating.

Remove dead skin that can affect your sunless tan by exfoliating.

1. Exfoliate Your Skin

This tip is first and foremost when using a sunless tanning product. You should exfoliate your skin the day prior to applying the product. This will guarantee an even application and prevent streaking. You don’t need to buy any fancy exfoliating gizmos or preparations.

While you are in the shower all it takes is a gentle rub with a cotton washcloth or loofa to remove dead skin cells and product buildup that can result in an uneven tan. Shaving your legs the day before is also an easy way of exfoliating your skin.

Test your sunless tanner to avoid an unfortunate result.

Test your sunless tanner to avoid an unfortunate result.

2. Perform a Color Test

To avoid looking like an Oompa Loompa perform a product test patch before applying it all over your body. Self tanners are not created equal. Some contain higher levels of tanning ingredients than others. Also, your skin tone and pH can affect the end result. To be on the safe side you might want to start with a gradual tanning product which can be applied each day until you reach your desired level of color.

Dry your skin before applying product and clean your palms as you go.

Dry your skin before applying product and clean your palms as you go.

3. Dry Your Skin Completely

If you plan to slather on a sunless tanning product right after your shower or bath make sure your skin is completely dry or you'll end up with a blotchy result. Wait several minutes after toweling off to allow your skin to air dry and cool down. Move to a non-humid area of the house to apply the product.

Wash your hands right after you've applied tanning spray or lotion.

Wash your hands right after you've applied tanning spray or lotion.

4. Don't Tan Your Palms

While applying your tanning product wash your hands periodically to avoid tanned palms. Once you’ve finished applying use a nail brush to clean under fingernails and around cuticles. To tan the backs of your hands apply product with a cosmetic sponge after you've finished the rest of your body.

The rough skin on elbows and knees tend to absorb more sunless tanning product.

The rough skin on elbows and knees tend to absorb more sunless tanning product.

5. Apply Lightly on Rough Skin

Do not over apply the lotion or spray on areas like your elbows, knees, ankles and tops of feet. This dry, thickened skin will absorb more product resulting in dark skin patches. You can also dilute your sunless tanner by adding a little moisturizer to lessen the tanning effect on rough skin areas.

Tanning products can permanently stain clothing.

Tanning products can permanently stain clothing.

6. Allow It to Dry Before Dressing

Don’t rush to get dressed once your have applied your sunless tanning product. It can stain your clothing and remove areas that haven’t been completely absorbed into your skin. Check the product directions for advice on when to dress after application.

Resist the urge to jump right into the water after applying!

Resist the urge to jump right into the water after applying!

7. Avoid Immediate Contact With Water

Stay out of the water for at least several hours after application. Even excessive sweat can interfere with your tanning product's effectiveness. Water can turn your tan into a streaky mess.

Daily moisturizing will prolong your sunless tan.

Daily moisturizing will prolong your sunless tan.

8. Moisturize Your Skin

Don’t allow your skin to dry out while you're using self tanning products or your bottled tan will fade much more quickly. If your skin is not moisturized the tan will roll right off your skin with a light rub. Moisturize every morning in between applications to avoid premature tan loss.

Sunless Tanner Application Tips!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Joe from north miami FL on June 07, 2014:

Fully understandable UV rays are very strong now with our ozone layer so weak but if done correctly which is minimal levels of sun exposure I think you actually receive the vitamin E the body needs.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 07, 2014:

Thanks for stopping by my Hub joedolphin88! I spent years tanning the regular way. All those fine lines and age spots are not worth it. I still know people my age that are obsessed with tanning and their skin looks frightening. I'm all for sunless tanning these days. Don't want to end up looking like an old baseball mitt (not to mention the elevated risk of skin cancer)!

Joe from north miami FL on June 06, 2014:

Great article on sunless tanning, wrote one on the regular way myself. This really does show the great ways to get a tan without risking any negative UV exposure whatsoever.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on December 04, 2013:

I cringe at the thought of all the tanning I did years ago. Luckily, so far I haven't had any issues related to sun exposure. Now I go the "tan in a bottle" route. Thanks for checking out this Hub, vespawoolf! :)

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on December 04, 2013:

How did I miss this one?? Congratulations on your HOTD for this. I agree that sunless tanning is a safer alternative to sun tanning. Thank you for these tips.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on December 01, 2012:

Robin, I, too, remember spending way too much time in the sun in my younger years. It certainly speeds up the skin's aging process and makes one vulnerable to a host of other skin problems. I guess out of all the ways to achieve a golden glow, sunless tanning is the best bet. That is, until they determine otherwise. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

Robin Grosswirth from New York on December 01, 2012:

Good hub. I remember when a tan was important. Now, wishing I never hit the sun. However, this is a viable alternative for sure. One caveat, I wonder how safe it really is long term?

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 24, 2012:

Thank you, kishorkumar20!

kishorkumar20 from Malappuram on November 23, 2012:

Really Useful Stuff

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 23, 2012:

Starlight, you make a very valid point. Thanks for sharing it with everyone! :)

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 23, 2012:

Thanks, Junaid!

StarlightReflex on November 23, 2012:

Agree as long as your vitamin D levels are OK, avoiding UVB rays to an extreme can all but eliminate synthesis of Vitamin D which is one job of the epidermis. In my case, taking D supplements didn't cut it, nor did the D3 version that is more bio-available. This time of year I must go south or hit the tanning bed. To avoid dangers, I don't expose head, shoulders, and arms. It's the overall exposure that causes problems.

Junaid Ghani Durrani from Karachi, Pakistan on November 23, 2012:

Congrats for having your hub as the best!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 23, 2012:

Thanks, Glen!

Glen Brown from Compton, California on November 23, 2012:

cool story bro

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 03, 2012:

Thank you girishpuri! Cheers

Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on September 02, 2012:

Great advise for the method of tanning, voted useful.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 30, 2012:

Hi Emma! The gradual tanners are the way to go. I've tried many self-tanners over the years and only seemed to have good luck with the more expensive ones like Clarins and Estee Lauder. Then along came the moisturizing gradual tanners. Now I'm happy and so is my pocketbook! Thanks for your comment and votes!

Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on August 30, 2012:

Great advice - for me, I am pale so going out in the sun means I need to cover up. I then remain pale, which I don't always like! These tanning products have come a long way. I like your tips to avoid streaking.

I like to use the gradual tanning moisturizers as I feel a bit safer with those. Great hub - up and useful.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 28, 2012:

Hi teaches! With all the associated dangers of sun exposure, maybe more people will opt for this type of safe "tanning". I would hope many adults are already on the bandwagon for themselves and their little ones, however, my main concern is for young adults who seem to think they are immune to skin damage. Thanks for the votes!

Dianna Mendez on August 28, 2012:

Great advice for those who wish to use this method of tanning. Your advice on using moisturizer and performing a color test is really important when using these products. Voted useful and interesting.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 27, 2012:

Jackie, I used to do the tanning beds -- probably way too much. Now I just stick with the bottle or spray tans. Jergen's Natural Glow is the best for subtle color, IMOH. Thanks for reading and good luck with your winter 'tan'!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 27, 2012:

Leah, I've done it without exfoliating and after a day or so, the color rubs off like dead skin - eeewwww! You are so right, removing the dead skin cells before application is the secret to a longer-lasting fake tan! Thanks for your comment!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 27, 2012:

Been years since I used a self tanner and I guess you don't wash these off? Interesting. I have seen the glows but never used one. Tanning beds are scary to me. I have used them but never even as long as 15 minutes and anymore not at all. Great hub for summer ending to keep some dark on our legs, good to know, thank you.

Leah Lefler from Western New York on August 27, 2012:

Exfoliating your skin is a really good tip - I have a friend who applied self-tanner to her face and it was very blotchy. Having clean, scrubbed skin is essential!

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