Makeup Ideas

Perfect Your Self-Tan Technique: Step-by-Step Tips For Best Faux Glow

Get a faux glow so flawless even your mom will think it's real

Photo by Anthea Simms

Applying self tanners and bronzers during the summer months is a great way to get a little colour without wreaking havoc on your skin cells (we hear sun rays do that). To achieve the ultimate faux tan, here’s our step-by-step guide to tanner application.

First, choose a formula (generally a matter of personal preference, but gradual self-tanners are the most foolproof).

About half an hour before application, exfoliate your entire body—focusing on rough areas. Then moisturize to help your skin soak up the tanner evenly. We like to use a tanning mitt to apply the product, as it prevents darkened palms, but if you plan on using your hands, smooth cuticle oil around nail beds to prevent orange fingertips. Also be sure to wash your palms afterward.

Whether a spray, mousse, lotion, towelette or moisturizer, apply in a circular motion to avoid streaks. Your mantra: Blend, blend, blend! Remember to cover your ears, the back of your neck and hands and your underarms to prevent white patches. Apply sparingly around your hairline and eyebrows, as these areas tend to over-absorb colour. If using a gradual self-tanner, apply daily for one week for the perfect glow.

If you still end up blotchy, uneven, or bright orange (hopefully, with careful prep, you won’t!), make a scrub out of lemon juice and sugar and gently rub it over your entire body before rinsing in the shower. To lighten the face and neck area, make a paste out of baking soda and water and apply to damp skin.

Once you’ve achieved your ideal shade, use golden highlighters to give the tan more realistic depth. Dust the centre of shins, along the shoulders and collarbone, and the high points of the face.

Tip: Wear whites and brights to accentuate your tan. Bright to neon polishes in pinks and corals will also bring out your colour.

FLARE picks: Dior Bronze Self-Tanner Natural Glow Face, $37, at Dior Counters. St. Tropez Tanning Essentials Tan Applicator Mitt, $8, Mark Glow It All Gradual Glow Body Moisturizer, $14, Priti NYC Polish in Red Maple, $13, Kate Somerville 360° Tanning Towelettes, $48,

Read more of our Best Summer Beauty Tips