Jun 11, 2010

Sunless tanner woes? You're not alone! Some tips from my mistakes.

You wouldn't know this by the color of my skin and definitely not by the way I burn to a freaking crisp in the sun, but I am 100% Italian. (HA!!)  I constantly say that I am the whitest Italian on the face of the earth and also probably the only Italian that doesn't tan.  Well, of course, I do tan after I burn to a crisp and peel like a snake shedding it's skin, but that is too much frustration and too much pain and danger to go through for a nice tan.  

For a few years now, I have been trying self tanners.  I know, I know...Garfield the cat syndrome is ALWAYS what the end result was of my self tanning tries.  (I'm not kidding.  The day of my confirmation my aunt, who was my confirmation sponsor and is also my Godmother, came over with self tanner that she had put on.  It looked beautiful on her.  She wanted to self tan me and at the end result, I looked like a Garfield cling on.  We ran out that afternoon and got tan corrector and enough exfoliating stuff to exfoliate half the universe...LOL)  Very rarely did I actually look decent with the self tanner. 

This summer, I was hell bent on finding something that worked and hell bent on getting a good looking tan.  After all, I have a lot of great things coming up this summer and would love not to look so pasty ghost white and would love not to look like a freaking lobster before I got tan.  So, I was off on my journey.  I tried some things that left me streaky and embarrassed to go out of the house, some things that were so-so and some things that worked great.  (And it took me since May to find this out. Ha)  I feel inclined to help out fellow bloggers and mommies who can't tan, don't want to go in the sun because of health risks and people who just want a nice glow for a special occasion.  This was all learned through my trial and error. (And some research)

Some TIPS for self tanning
  1. If your skin is very white and pasty like mine is and if you burn easily, I would suggest using a light - medium at first.  If after 2 applications that is not working for you, or if it gives you an orangy tint, I would suggest trying strictly a "Medium".  I wouldn't really venture towards the "Dark" or "Medium to dark" because that may not give you good results.  Most self tanners have a "Light/Medium" a strict "Medium" and a "Medium/Dark". 
  2. EXFOLIATE YOUR SKIN WELL before putting on the self tanner.  Use a cotton wash cloth.  If you use a "scrubbie", exfoliate in circular motions.  If you go up and down there is a good chance you may miss a spot to exfoliate and the tan will not look even.  I would use an exfoliater that isn't oil based.  It can make you look streaky as well since the self tanner may not stick to it evenly.  I use an exfoliater that you can get in small packages that cost $1.25.  It works pretty well.
  3. I suggest waiting at least 30 minutes after you get out of the shower to use the self tanner.  Some people say using it on moist skin works for them, but I haven't found that for myself.  If I use it when my skin is moist, I get streaks.  I would rather it be mostly dry.  BUT -- WHEN YOU GET OUT OF THE SHOWER, IMMEDIATELY USE A MOISTURIZER!  I use a Nivea Q10 Firming Moisturizer and I swear by that stuff. 
  4. When you're ready to tan, take the moisturizer that you used and put it on the sides of your ankles, feet, knees and elbows.  Those are the places that the self tanner can build up and it will make them look dirty unless you use the moisturizer first.  JUST PUT IT ON THOSE PLACES
  5. Put maybe a quarter sized amount in your hand and start rubbing it on your legs at your ankles first.  Don't put it on your feet yet.  On the sides of your ankles where you just applied the moisturizer, rub it in lightly.  RUB IN CIRCULAR MOTION, NOT UP AND DOWN.  This helps you get a streak free tan and helps to cover all places.
  6. ON YOUR FEET - I haven't learned to perfect this yet.  I either won't use it on my feet unless I had to or I will take a small but and rub it in circular motions JUST ON THE TOP OF YOUR FEET.  Sometimes I will smooth the tanner from my ankles down towards my feet.  No one has a natural tan on their feet anyway.  It usually just fades from your ankles.
  7. Work up your leg as you go in circular motions.  Cover it evenly.  It doesn't matter if you rub it all the way in or just rub it lightly, as long as you feel it's covering evenly.  You don't want to be streaky or a Garfield cling on!!
  8. WASH YOUR HANDS after each leg.  Don't put the water on too high that it will splash on you, or you will get little dots on your tan.  Not attractive!! ;)  Though, wash your hands thouroughly. You don't want orange palms.
  9. Now it's time for your arms.  Start at your shoulders and work down.  AGAIN, rub in circular motions.  If you feel your elbows aren't completely moisturized, use a bit more moisturizer and put the self tanner over that.  You don't want your elbows to be darker!  Work to your wrists and stop.  When it comes to do your hands take a VERY LITTLE AMOUNT and rub it only on the tops of your hands.  I don't do my fingers unless I absolutely have to when the tan gets darker.  When you wash your hands, get a moist cotton wash cloth and wash the palms of your hands and sides of your hands. (If you did tan the tops of your hands.  If not, just wash your hands normally.  Again, put the water on low so you don't splash it.) Wash your hands before you do the other arm.
  10. When it comes to doing your back, I switch to a spray of the same brand and shade.  In my opinion, it's easier.  If you're going to do the spray for your back, stand in the shower while doing this.  It's easier to mist the spray and back into it.  Like you do when you spritz perfume and walk through it.  Do this about 2-3 times.  If you spray it directly onto your back, you may not get an even coverage. This has proven to work for me.  I don't use the lotion on my back because it's too unpredictable.  If you prefer lotion, I suggest having someone else do it for you.  
  11. You can also use a larger painting sponge tip brush to do your back.  I haven't tried this so I don't know how true it is, but I've read it.  You would put the lotion on the brush and massage it in a circular motion onto your back.  I'D STICK WITH THE SPRAY.
  12. DO NOT PUT CLOTHES ON FOR THE FIRST 30 MINUTES AFTER TANNING.  If you can't walk around naked, put a bathing suit on before you start self tanning.  After the 30 minutes, put on loose fitting clothes or a robe for the remainder of the hour.  After an hour, it should be safe to dress. 
  13. IF TANNING YOUR FACE, I would suggest to use a sunless tanner specially for the face.  Although, a regular self tanner would actually work, the ones designed for the face are gentler and don't clog pours.  Either way, I would suggest taking a little dab after you have exfoliated and spreading it in a circular motion.  Avoid the lip and eye area as well as the hairline.  After you have spread that, clean off your hands and from what is still on your face, spread the areas that you avoided.  (Don't get too close to the eye! It will probably cause iritation.) Some people suggest using a makeup sponge to spread, but honestly I don't find this the best method. The sponge absorbs most of it, so you probably will look uneven.
I don't tan anywhere else because #1. I don't walk around naked or wear a bikinni. Ha.  But if you're going to tan your torso, do the same thing as I suggested.  Circular motions.

These tips should leave you with an even tan.  I do it every day until I get the desired depth.  Do it, as I said, 30 minute after a shower when you have exfoliated well.  You don't have to exfoliate AS much after you do the tan once as you did when you were completely white.  Just lightly exfoliate to make sure the tan stays even.  After you reach the desired depth, it's best to reapply the self tanner every 3-4 days.  

TOMORROW I will post the best self tanners that I have tried that actually worked without streaking and without an orange tint.  I've worked pretty hard to compile this list and I think I may have tried everything that's out on the market. (Well, with drug store brands.  I wish I had the money to try department store brands! I'm sure those work miracles.)