How to Maximize Your Tan

Getting a tan is an investment: whether you pay for a faux version or subject your skin to a day in the sun. So once you score that glow, you’re going to want to maintain it for as long as you can. But how? We asked Los Angeles-based dermatologist Kate Somerville for her tips.

Step 1
Exfoliate, but not too much!

“Don’t over-exfoliate!” is actually the first thing Somerville says. You’ll want to find out what’s best for your skin based on how it feels post-exfoliation, as well as whether you’re bronzing from a bottle or the actual sun. “When you’re getting a lot of sun, over-exfoliation can cause irritation,” Somerville says. But on the flip side, if you don’t exfoliate enough and then apply self-tanner, it can look splotchy and your skin won’t hold onto the color. Some exfoliators are stronger than others (there’s a range, below) and natural sponges, like The Body Shop’s Smooth and Renew Loofah Pads ($6), scrub away dead skin, too.

Step 2

“Moisturizing’s not only essential before tanning, it will also help your tan last as long as possible,” says Los Angeles-based aesthetician Kate Somerville. “Oils are a natural option to maintain skin health and prevent dehydration.” Whether you reach for a traditional lotion or an all-natural oil like coconut or avocado, apply it right out of the shower to lock in moisture—and again at night. “Remember to hydrate internally as well – properly hydrated skin is not only about the products you apply. Drink water, eat water-rich fruits and vegetables, and incorporate healthy oils into your diet,” says Somerville.

Step 3
?Incorporate tan maintenance into your weekly routine.

“If you want a consistent glow all summer long, develop a routine. It’s no different than a mani/pedi,” says Somerville. If you do a weekly face mask, or regularly give yourself a manicure on Sunday nights, work your favorite self-tanner into that at-home spa time. And try rotating your moisturizers, using a gradual tan product like Jergen’s Natural Glow Firming Daily Moisturizer ($9) every other morning and a basic lotion like Lubriderm Advanced Therapy SPF 30 Lotion ($9) on others. And of course, stock up on the right products! Our picks, below.