The art of the tan: Fake it till you make it

Mousse, spray, lotion, towelette, oil, airbrush — When it comes to self-tanning, I have tried it all. When I look in my cabinet of skin care wonders, there are four or five different tanning products staring back at me.

The world of tanning can be daunting and down right sketchy for some of us, but I’m here to tell you, “We got this.”

Although I have tried different forms of self-tanner, my favorites are sprays, mousse and towelettes.

Gradual tanners like lotions are great if you can remember to moisturize daily, but I never do. Plus, I usually like fast results.

Take a look at your skin. What does it feel like? If it’s dry, then applying a mousse or airbrush tanner will look patchy and it won’t last as long. If your skin is healthy and not dry or oily, then applying a self-tanner can be a breeze.

Exfoliating is a key factor in making your tan look natural and long lasting. If you skip this step, be prepared for disappointment. I enjoy making my own scrubs out of basic ingredients like baking soda, sea salt or sugar mixed with a gentle cleanser or shower gel. If you have a body scrub you swear by, keep using it. My favorite store bought scrubs include First Aid Beauty’s Cleansing Body Polish (comes in a kit with a decent self-tanning lotion) and Lush’s Ocean Salt scrub.

Be prepared to make the extra effort to prep your skin for whatever self-tanner you plan to use. Again, the laziness will show in how the tanning solution sets on your skin. If you plan on applying a sunless tanner all over, it helps to have a buddy who doesn’t mind seeing you in all your glory. I have done my best at contorting my body to get those hard to reach areas, but having a person there for backup during the application process can help make sure you didn’t miss any areas.

For mousse and spray, Fake Bake is a great brand that looks like your skin just got kissed by the sun. It smells nice and does not streak. At all. I use a tanning mitt and gloves to apply the solution. If you purchase the kits, they include both items.

Tanning towelettes contain the self-tanning solution in them. Loreal towelettes are super easy to use. You simply take the wet towelette and rub in circular motions on whichever body parts you wish to tan. It’s important to avoid the ankles and wrists, as it can streak if you’re not careful with the application. When I’m done, I like to wash my hands and wrists thoroughly, as well as the sides of my ankles. The color takes a few hours to develop, which is a pain, because you won’t know if you missed any spots or have streaking until later. Nevertheless, the color is a great, natural looking tan.

If you happen to experience any streaking within the first few hours of using any self-tanning products, taking another shower or exfoliating the troublesome areas can make these areas less obvious. If you are skeptical or nervous about using a self tanner, just remember: It is only temporary and safe. Laying out in the sun or using a tanning bed is not. The long-term effects of too much sun exposure lead to skin cancer, so be kind to your skin.

Shelby is a twenty-something, residing along the Emerald Coast, enjoying the sugar white sands with an umbrella drink in-hand. She takes the time to enjoy film and music, as well as fashion and beauty trends when her wallet isn't empty.