I got my first-ever spray tan last summer. The only piece of advice I had picked up prior was to keep my mouth closed, but beyond that, my knowledge of the spray-tanning process was minimal. For some reason, I thought I'd be able to cover my boobs while a complete stranger spray-painted me, but that pretty much defeats the purpose, so in I went into the booth wearing nothing but a provided paper thong, arms wide open à la Creed, pursing my lips so I didn't come out with tan teeth. It was cold, it was bizarre, but damn did I look like a bronzed statue when all was said and done.
I was in love with my new instant tan, but within a few days, I started to get weird splotches along my chest and near my armpits, like it was rubbing off. It was so bad that I ended up scrubbing the crap out of my skin with a loofa, hoping it would all rinse down the drain. Surely I'd made some sort of rookie mistake, and I was fairly certain I wasn't the only one who's inadvertently ruined their faux tan. That's why I enlisted the help of two tanning experts to find out how to get the best bronze possible every time, no matter what.
Read on for their best tricks.
Eat the Right Foods Beforehand
Your diet may be the last thing on your mind pre-tan, but Alyson Hogg, founder of Vita Liberata, told us to try eating green vegetables that are high in lysine like kale, spinach, and avocado. "This is a really important amino acid for tanning and will improve the color you achieve," they explain. "Additionally, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water."
Complete Proper Hair Removal
To ensure smooth skin and settled hair follicles, Sophie Evans, St. Tropez skin finishing expert, recommends all waxing be completed 24 hours before self-tan application. If you shave, Hogg says to do so at least four hours before your appointment.
Prep the Skin
To get rid of dry patches and scaly skin, Evans suggests exfoliating the skin a few days before. She also says to remove products like deodorant and body makeup just before so the tan can adhere to the skin properly.
The one product you should never use pre-tan? Lotion. "You shouldn't moisturize 12 hours before your spray tan, as that can leave a residue film on the skin that can diminish the effectiveness of the tan," says Hogg.
When the spray tan is over, wait a few minutes, and then put on loose, dark clothing so as not to rub off your new glow.
Also, try not to be in a hurry to go to the gym or take a shower. According to Evans, most formulas take up to eight hours to set before your skin can touch moisture, so sit back, relax, and stay dry. In fact, if you're especially pale, Hogg suggests not showering for 24 hours to ensure a darker hue. If you're worried about the color transferring onto your sheets, Evans suggests dusting baby powder all over your body to keep the skin dry and the tan in place.
Practice Proper Post-Tan Care
"We always recommend lightly exfoliating every two to three days after your tan to guarantee that it's fading evenly," says Evans. "Use St. Tropez Body Polisher, which is very gentle and will not rip or tear at your self-tan."
Both experts also recommend moisturizing every day, especially after showering or bathing. You can also use another self-tanner to bolster your spray tan like Vita Liberata Fabulous Self-Tanning Gradual Lotion ($30) every few days. Exfoliating and moisturizing without the added sunless tanning boost should help your tan last between a week to 10 days.
Next up, take a look at the drugstore self-tanners with great performance value.
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.