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5 Tips To Make Your Self-Tanner Last Longer, From An Editor Who Does It Weekly

Hannah Frye
mbg Assistant Beauty Editor By Hannah Frye
mbg Assistant Beauty Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
These Tips Will Make Your Self-Tanner Last 10x Longer

Although you may love that sun-kissed look from lying in the sun for a few hours, you likely know it's not the best for the health of your skin. In fact, 80% of skin aging has been attributed to sun exposure. Of course, you can (and should) wear SPF, but that doesn't always guarantee endless protection. For that reason, self-tanner is a great alternative if you're looking to achieve that bronzy glow, sans sunbathing. 

As someone who uses self-tanner weekly, I know a decent amount about the user experience. I've tried countless brands, product types, and application methods. Through it all, I've accumulated a few tips and tricks, some of which can help extend the life of your self-tanner no matter which product you're using, so let's get into it: 

1. Shave before you tan.

This one may be a given for experienced self-tanners, but it's a must-know if you're new to the game. In order for your tan to last, you'll want to avoid shaving as much as you can once your tan has set. So it's key to shave before you tan (if you want to!), and make it a good one.

In order to achieve a close shave that will last, you'll want to exfoliate the skin beforehand. I recommend going in with a body scrub (you can easily make one at home). Of course, be sure to use a high-quality razor and shaving cream or another hydrating product to protect the skin while you shave. 

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2. Avoid exfoliating lotions.

Using any sort of exfoliating lotion after you've applied self-tanner will cause the product to fade, resulting in uneven patches. So make sure to double-check your body lotion and avoid any ingredients that will exfoliate the skin. A few common ones to look out for are salicylic acid, glycolic acid, urea, AHAs or BHAs in general, and retinol

You can certainly use these lotions a day or two before applying self-tanner; just stay away from them after the fact, until you're ready to either redo or say goodbye to your tan. 

3. Wait 7 to 8 hours to exercise.

This one is most important for those who plan on applying tanner during the day. While I personally recommend self-tanning before bed, I recognize that doesn't work for everyone's schedules. But if you are going to apply tanner in the morning, I highly suggest skipping your workout that day or at least sticking to an activity that won't make you sweat. Any sort of water touching your tan—sweat included—will cause distinct streaks. 

Beyond that, you don't want to wear skin-tight clothing or anything that will rub too much against the skin while your tan is setting, as this can also lead to an uneven finish. Instead, wear your workout gear before your pre-tan shower, and stick to loose-fitting clothes afterward. 

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4. Use a good-quality body lotion daily.

This one is absolutely key. If you want your tan to last, you have to keep your skin hydrated. While applying body lotion daily is a best practice (tanned or not) to keep your moisture barrier happy and healthy, it significantly affects the look and duration of your tan. Think about it: Self-tanner sits toward the top layers of the skin, so as soon as your skin begins to crack or flake, your tan will, too. 

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For this reason, I suggest applying body lotion at least once a day, all over your body. Make sure to pay extra attention to areas with cracks or folds, like the hands, feet, elbows, and knees. If you tend to be on the drier side as is, feel free to kick up your full-body moisturizing routine to twice per day. It may sound excessive, but you'll be glad you did it when your tan lasts longer, crack-free. 

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5. Ditch dry brushing (for now).

This one goes along the same lines as using an exfoliating body lotion—it's great to dry brush before you tan, but it will ruin your bronzy glow right away if you do it after the fact. Dry brushing is a form of physical exfoliation, and it's a great way to keep the skin soft and encourage healthy circulation in the body. However, it's best to stash your dry brush while you have self-tanner on to keep it fresh, even, and long-lasting. 

If you reach a point where your self-tan has faded out and you're ready for it to be gone, then go ahead with exfoliators, dry brush included. They will help fade the tan faster; just remember not to scrub too hard, as that can damage your skin barrier and do more harm than good. 

The takeaway. 

If you're venturing into the world of self-tanner as a sunbathing alternative, it's important to learn what works for you in terms of products and techniques. Regardless of what you use or how you use it, though, there are a few best practices that will help your tan look better for longer. Remember to shave before you tan, wait seven to eight hours before you sweat, avoid any exfoliants while your tan lasts, and moisturize your entire body at least once daily. Experimenting with self-tanner is all about trial and error, so don't beat yourself up too much if your glow has faded earlier than you would have liked. On that note, we do have some common mistakes to avoid to make that process just a bit easier.

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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(40)
postbiotic body lotion

postbiotic body lotion

Ultra-hydrating formula that nourishes your skin barrier, available in unscented and neroli

postbiotic body lotion

postbiotic body lotion

Ultra-hydrating formula that nourishes your skin barrier, available in unscented and neroli

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(40)
postbiotic body lotion

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