Choose a time when you are not rushed. (I find that evenings work the best.) Exfoliate your skin first; you need to create a smooth surface. Spread on the thinnest layer of tanner possible so that any mistakes will not be glaring. If you want darker color, wait a day, then do another application. Face: Apply the lightest coat possible. Apply around the eyes, being careful not to get product into your eyes. Do not forget your ears and neck. Your face is naturally lighter than the rest of your body, so choose a product accordingly. If you have blond or light brown brows, take care not to apply self-tanner on the eyebrows it can stain the hairs an orange-yellow shade.

Body: Many women use self-tanners on their legs as a means to eliminate the need to wear stockings. But be subtle in application. Legs that are shades darker than arms, neck, and other exposed parts end up looking silly. Be advised that self-tanners are quite difficult to apply evenly on hard-to-reach spots like the back. In this case, look for a container with a nozzle that functions from all angles. Again, do a thin layer initially, then reapply to build color.

Note: Self-tanners are not for everyone. If you are very pale (i.e., your foundation shade is ivory) or have sensitive skin, you may be well advised to skip self-tanners all together: There may be no self-tanner light enough to look natural.

Oily or breakout-prone skin can react badly to self-tanners. If you fall into this category, try applying a thin layer on your face and leave it on for only fifteen minutes. Then wash your face thoroughly. It should be sufficient time to activate the tanning without triggering a breakout.


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