Yes You Can, Self Tan: The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Not Looking Pasty
I’ve been a self-tan connoisseur since the age of twelve when I convinced my mom to buy a bottle of QT tan.
During gym class the next day, I sat on the bleachers with my legs outstretched waiting for compliments on my streaky orange stems. I knew it wasn’t perfect; I was just proud to have cheated the sun and not be the color of larvae anymore.But after Missy George called me out with “real tans don’t have stripes”, I laid off the stuff, and made a few misguided visits to a tanning salon in my late teens.
Fortunately for my dermis, I didn’t have enough money to buy more than my initial tanning bed 10 pack.
When trust worthy self-tanners started popping up on the market again in the late 1990s, I was first in line.
My experiments with St. Tropez’s early formula were a disaster. It went on seaweed green and would be anybody’s guess what color I would be in the morning. Sometimes I woke up looking like I belonged to a different race.
By 2000, Clarins and Lancôme became my go to brands, although both left me a tad orange and smelling like a loaf of baking bread.
I had a soft spot for Lancôme’s Quick Tanner For Legs because it had shimmer. Until I learned it left a trail of glitter slime where ever my bare legs would be, especially if sweat was involved. Like on the black leather chaise lounge at my in-laws house. What do you say, I moonlight as a stripper??
Also irritating was that summer after summer, I would part with a handful of white shirts that succumbed to the brown grime that would inevitably appear on collars in the underarm area. (I have some thoughts on how to take of your white shirts are here).
By 2003, I started skipping blowouts in favor of professional spray tans, which to me was beauty nirvana. I didn’t care that I had to stand there in nothing but a paper thong while a complete stranger with an aerosol gun instructed me to bend over, plié my legs, and hold my arms into the stick ‘em up pose for 15 minutes.
I also didn’t care that for the 8 hours following I had to wear loose dark clothing without a bra. Navigating the NYC subway system braless is nerve wracking to me. And then there was the time I got caught in a downpour and was left with polka dotted skin from where the raindrops hit.
Still, that sublime, caramel colored complexion on my body was worth it. Today, if I
Now that I’m older though, my beauty priorities have migrated from the professional spray tan to the dermatologist’s office.
But the need for a little sun kissed love on my pasty limbs, hasn’t gone away. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to cheat your way to body confidence. It covers up spider veins, bug bites, random age spots, scars and cellulite.
It doesn’t make me want to crawl into a thong, but it makes me feel hot in a Bermuda shorts kinda way.
Besides, self-tanners have come a long way since the late nineties; they don’t smell weird, don’t make you look orange, they multi-task and the best part is that they’re relatively goof proof.
As a self-tan veteran and bona fide tired person, I proudly present The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Not Looking Pasty.
A few thoughts before we get going.
First, pick a day during the week if you want to make it a habit. I self tan on Sunday nights and touch up my legs as needed, somewhere around Wednesday.
A secret to getting great results is to moisturize your body (not your face) with Amlactin a few days before you self tan, especially if you’re getting rid of any residual tanner. This moisturizer smells disgusting, but it’s the best thing on the market. It’s loaded with lactic acid, which means it moisturizes, exfoliates and primes the skin. This is a nice to have, but not a must.
1. Exfoliate, shave and soap. The most important thing to look for in an exfoliant is one that doesn’t have glycerin or oil. I’ve searched far and wide for one that is the perfect self-tan prep and finally found in DermaDoctor’s KP Duty. I scrub it on my skin DRY, before I get in the shower. But then, be careful that you don’t wash it off with a body wash or soap glycerin and oil in it, or use a shave cream that is too rich.
2. Dry off and moisturize elbows, knees and feet. It’s important that you are completely dry, so step out of your steamy shower and stand in front of a fan, or blow dry yourself on the cool setting. Don’t laugh, I’ve done this.
To avoid getting self tan build up on the rough spots of your knees, elbows and feet, spray on a light coating of Vaseline’s new Spray and Go Coco Butter. Most any basic moisturizer will do, but this one goes on especially light.
3. Apply your self tan. My absolute favorite these days is St. Tropez Self Tanning Mousse because I don’t get too dark and don’t smell. But as much as I love the formula, the secret weapon is their $6 self tan mitt. Other brands have these too and I imagine they work just as well, but whatever you do GET THE DAMN MITT.
I used to use plastic latex gloves, the kind surgeons and burglars use, but this mitt is magic and blends everything beautifully.
I start at my neck/décolletage, work my way down thru my arms and then to my legs. (I always skip the torso these days and yes, I do live in fear of getting in a car wreck and having to explain my half brown/half white self to the ER people).
Once I’m done, I lightly rub the left overs from my mitt on the tops of my hands. I used to carefully do this with a Beauty Blender, but I don’t need to with the mitt. You can find the application video here.
4. Apply facial self tanner. I do this last because nothing really has to dry, and come in contact with clothing but my all time favorite is Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad. Since I do this at night, I don’t have to worry about make-up, but do not apply any of your other fancy night serums or retinol when using this. It’s an exfoliator and self-tanner in one. I use this a lot in the winter to get rid of the pasties, but then I’ll apply Cereva night cream to cut it a bit.
5. Dry in the buff for about 10-15 minutes. An air-conditioned room, a fan or blow-drying yourself on cool is a nice way to set the than. After that, I have a particularly ugly American Apparel black maxi shirt and black t-shirt that I wear when I dry out. I watch the Simpsons with my family, put my son to bed and then watch Family Guy.
I go to sleep and wake up tropical.
Bonus Extra. Around Tuesday or Wednesday, I’ll touch up my legs up with Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer in Medium to Dark (I don’t use the firming version because I find it’s too drying). This stuff is amazing and if you don’t want to commit to the full self-tan ritual above, just throw this on your body everyday (let yourself dry though). It’s cheap and it’s wonderful. For the rest of my body, I just use the Vaseline Spray and Go. Note: while preserving your tan, do not use Amlactin as that will exfoliate, not preserve.
Bonus Extra Extra: For those times when my legs need to look super special, I love love love Lorac’s Body Bronzing Spray (but legs only). It’s pretty transfer resistant and bendable. No glitter slime left behind, I promise!
This is what’s in my bag of tricks, but I’m sure I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. If you have any others to build or brands and products you would recommend, bring it on.