You might have read numerous articles about how to apply self tanner—exfoliate skin, apply evenly, wash your hands—and realized it’s not rocket science. There are, however, a few helpful tricks and highly-effective products that we’ve stumbled upon that make turning pale winter skin radiant especially easy. Because you do need a different strategy in the winter!
Like foundation, you’ll need a lighter self-tanner come winter. Try a formula that comes in different shades, like Jergens’ Natural Glow ($9) in Fair to Medium or Medium/Tan, or mix your summer self-tanner 50/50 with lotion.
Foams and sprays work better in the summer when you have a base tan and tiny imperfections aren’t noticeable. Pale skin requires lighter formulas, like gradual tanners. Try St. Tropez Gradual Tan ($35) or Nivea’s Sun Kissed Radiance Gradual Tanner ($11).
Gloves may look silly, but they really do work when you need precise results. Slip on one of Tarte’s Brazilliance Mitts ($12) and smooth your formula of choice onto larger areas, like legs and arms.
You can use regular lotion to dilute self tanner, both before you apply (for more foolproof results) and over areas you’ve already covered (which allows the tanner to soak into wrists and ankles more evenly). Try Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Body Lotion ($55).
The active ingredients in your everyday face products—retinols, salicylic acid—will disrupt the ingredients in your tanner. On nights when you apply self tanner—we like Sisley’s Self-Tanning Cream ($141) and Bare Minerals Faux Tan Face Gradual Glow ($24)—limit your use of other products.
Whether you’re washing your hands frequently, or using gloves, you’ll want to apply your formula of choice on your hands last. Add a pea-sized amount to the back of each hand and gently rub them together to mix the color.