— The potential for skin damage from the sun should have you hiding under a hat or slathering on the SPF, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look luminous. If a tan is your must-have accessory for summer, the solutions for getting a faux glow are becoming easier and more innovative by the day. TODAY style editor and Bobbie.com’s Bobbie Thomas shares her secrets for achieving the perfect beach-babe look:
Prep like a pro
It’s important to exfoliate in the shower using textured scrub gloves or nylon polishing towels to remove any dead skin. Whether you go to a booth or grab a tan-in-the-can, slip on a shower cap and use a cotton swab to apply petroleum jelly to your cuticles and nail beds before a spray session. Also be sure to have your hands, feet, knees, elbows and any dry skin patches completely moisturized, leaving excess lotion on the palms of your hands to help offer a barrier — just be sure to blend the edges and inside the wrists to achieve a natural-looking fade line. And finally, Sticky Sandals are topless, strap-free sandals that literally stick to your soles. Use them to avoid getting self-tanner on the bottoms of your feet ($2-$12; stickysandals.com). You could also DIY a pair in a pinch by using double-stick tape and paper plates.
When it comes to applying product, there are a number of different options. Gradual tanners are not only great for beginners, but anyone who wants to maintain a tan. Drugstore brands like Jergens ($8.99; Target stores) and Olay ($7-$19; drugstore.com) are meant to be applied daily or intermittently, offering you more control. Full-strength compounds will offer a dramatic difference, but need downtime to fade before you reapply; otherwise you risk patchy, uneven results. And for streak-free strokes, consider some of the alternative applications on the market. Dr. Denese’s Glow Younger Gloves ($42 for 12; drdenese.com) and Comodynes Self-Tanning Body Gloves ($36.75 for 4; shopnbc.com) will help you wipe on and blend with the bonus of being a travel-friendly tanning option too. Modelco’s new Sunsponge promises to buff and adjust to your individual skin tone for custom color ($39; modelco.com.au), while Au Courant’s sponge on a stick helps you apply the brand’s Sunless Tanning Mousse in the hardest-to-reach spots ($1.49 per stick, $30 for the mousse; aucourant.com).
And even guys can get in on the action without dipping into female territory thanks to products like Anthony Logistics For Men Self Tanner with Anti-Aging Complex ($30; Anthony.com), Jean Paul Gaultier’s Self-Tanning Gel ($29; sephora.com) and Kiehl’s new Facial Fuel Healthy Bronze ($22.50, Kiehls.com).
For those who prefer to avoid DHA, the active tanning agent found in sunless solutions, these products will enhance your natural color temporarily. Cake’s new Hi-light and Glow-rious body lotions will give you a glisten with micronized gold and pink particles, and Shiseido’s Sun Protection Stick Foundation ($26; sephora.com) and Chantecaille’s Protection Naturelle Powder both provide SPF and complexion control ($65; chantecaille.com). If you’re looking to bronze your body and face, cult-favorite makeup brands MAC and NARS have classic products that will help you shine all over! Makeup artists love to add a little of MAC’s Face and Body foundation to lotion to give legs a smooth look ($32, Maccosmetics.com), while NARS’ Body Glow and new Orgasm Illuminator hydrate while giving you a subtle sheen ($29-$59; narscosmetics.com).
Faux glow fixes
Keep in mind, nothing is permanent, and there are ways to soften the blow of a bad faux glow. St. Tropez’s Tan Optimizer Detox Bath helps you remove unwanted tan buildup ($35, Sttropeztan.com). You could also try soaking in a bath with some baking soda, and sometimes a lemon wedge can help lighten a dark line. Body-hair bleach can help with excess color on your cuticles or nails and callused skin on your toes. And while self-tanning has plenty of positives, the harsh reality is the chemical reaction that leaves behind an unpleasant smell is also the one responsible for color change. You can help eliminate the odor by using California Tan’s Neutralizer in soft vanilla ($16.59; amazon.com) or by applying your own essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus or menthol, either to your product or in a spray bottle with some water to use as a refresher after showering. And finally, for the best way to buff away too much tan, try using a dry brush, like Tampico’s Dry Skin Brush ($14.22; amazon.com), in a circular motion before stepping into the shower.