How To Achieve The Perfect At-Home Self Tan

5 Simple Steps To Mastering A Natural, All-Over Faux Glow

How To Achieve The Perfect At-Home Self Tan
How To Achieve The Perfect At-Home Self Tan

When it comes to tanning, the safest one is a fake one. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sun exposure is one of the major causes of skin cancer, aka the most common form of cancer in the United States and worldwide. It's also one of the biggest culprits behind early signs of aging like dark spots, wrinkles, and sagging skin, and contrary to popular belief, it only takes one bad sunburn to make a difference. So if you love a summer glow, self tanner should absolutely be on your list of beauty essentials. And when applied correctly, this doesn't have to mean a lifetime of orange hands, streaky skin, and ruined sheets.

Nailing a seamless, sun-kissed appearance that doesn’t look like it came from a bottle is actually pretty simple, as long as you follow a few tips and tricks before, during, and after application. To master the faux glow for yourself, we're breaking down five easy-to-follow steps that’ll help you achieve a long-lasting, streak-free fake tan every time—and one that lasts, too. Opening images: @theisleofparadise

April 1, 2022

Written By:Rank & Style

Product Expert:Georgia Jones

FacebookPinterest logoTwitter logoEmail icon

Interviews and Articles make it easy to learn more about the products that top our lists, what’s currently trending, and the leaders who inspire us We are reader-supported and may earn a commission when you shop through our links.


Prime And Prep

The first and most important step is prep, as things can go south way before you’ve even applied any product. Patches, splotches, and streaks are all telltale signs of poor prep, but they’re easy to avoid as long as you get your skin ready ahead of time. Start by exfoliating—this will help smooth out the skin before product application and ensure even, long-lasting color. If you want to shave, wax, grab a mani-pedi, or touch up your hair color, do this beforehand as these kinds of treatments can remove self tanner and cause uneven color.
Ouai Scalp & Body Scrub

Ouai Scalp & Body Scrub


Buy Now



This one kind of fits into the prep section, but it’s important enough to deserve its own step. It’s crucial that you moisturize before applying your self tanner, but only do so to dry areas of the body (think ankles, feet, knees, elbows, wrists, palms, etc.) in order to prevent excess product buildup in those spots. Make sure to also keep the rest of your skin clean and free of oils and lotions to ensure things are even everywhere else.



Once you pick your potion—whether that be a mousse, a mist, or even an in-shower option—approach application with care. Work on one section at a time, applying the formula in light, long strokes until it soaks in, and be sure to apply sparingly to the dry areas we talked about above in order to avoid patches. This is also a great time to grab a tanning mitt, which will simultaneously prevent streaks and keep your hands from looking like they belong to an Oompa Loompa when you finish. When you’ve covered your whole bod, use a damp paper towel or makeup wipe to brush over any excess color and eliminate any unevenness. If things get a little concentrated around the hairline, try using a Q-tip to even it out.


Don't Forget Your Face

Forgetting your face can be a dead giveaway that your tan is fake. If you have sensitive skin and prefer not to use your product of choice on your face, use a serum or something specifically formulated for the face so you can get an even, uniform look all over. Keep in mind that cell turnover on our faces is more rapid than anywhere else on our bodies, and products like scrubs and retinol will only speed up that process. Stay away from them to keep your tan intact unless they’re absolutely necessary to your routine, and be sure to keep your skin super hydrated so your color can last as long as possible.



If you want your self tan to stick around, give it time to soak in and avoid water and tight clothing for the time being—we recommend four to eight hours to ensure the longevity of your color. And while exfoliation is an important part of preparation, now’s the time to lay off of it. If you’re heavy on anything, let it be moisturizer—hydration is key to keeping your tan fresh for as long as possible.

View All Top 10 Lists
Arrow white

The Latest

Image credits: j.crew


The Best Online Shopping Sites For Women Over 50

Here Are 10 Retailers And Brands To Shop If You're Looking For Stylish Clothing Made For The Mature Woman

View All Articles

Top Sale Finds

Image credits: gapfactory

Gap Factory

Summer Cyber Sale: 60% off + free shipping.

Shop Now

Arrow white

Straight-to-the-point emails to make finding what you love even easier.