Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunless tanning lotion--it's easy if you know how to use it.

Most of us like a little color on us--on our legs, at the very least--as we come into spring and summer. Ghastly white legs emerging in skirts and shorts after a long, cold winter doesn't attract the kind of attention we're hoping for, after all. A nice tan (real or not-so-real) gives you a healthy look, and has the added bonus of giving a slimming appearance--and who doesn't want that?

Surely we all know by now to wear lots of sunblock and avoid the shoe leather look, but should we really expect to shell out $35 or more for a professional spray tan session? Surely not. This is a budget blog, after all!

Fortunately for us palefaces, the quality of self-tanners has improved dramatically over the last several years. No more scary orange faux tans, if you know a few secrets for good application. My biggest recommendation is going with one of the self-tanning daily moisturizers instead of the slightly more potent sunless tanning lotions. I like these better for a couple of reasons; one, the funky chemical smell that plagues self-tanners is much, much less noticeable with these, and two, they build a tan gradually, making much of the process goof-proof for you. My personal favorite, Loreal's Sublime Glow, is pictured here--I like this one because it also has a very subtle luminizer, so, true to its name, you get a nice glow to go with your (gradual) tan. And I like the scent. Olay's is also quite good, as is Ulta's private brand. There are countless others available, and prices run the gamut. I've had marvelous results with the drugstore varieties, so don't feel as if you have to go for a spendy department store brand. Also, whether you go for the light/medium or medium/dark in any of those is up to you and how courageous you feel. After several applications, it all looks pretty much the same, but the medium/dark moisturizers will build up a little more quickly.

Now for the really important tips. If you're going to apply and maintain a sunless tan, and want it to look real (and really good), invest in a good body scrub and a box of latex gloves. Trust me on the gloves--they keep your hands from turning dark orange-y brown after application. No matter how thoroughly I wash and exfoliate my hands after applying tanner, I still end up with brown places--not an attractive look, unless you want to look like you have dirty hands. One box will easily last you all spring and summer (and well into the fall). I get mine on eBay for around $5 a box, but you can also get them at any medical supply store.

You'll want to use the body scrub right before applying the tanner (an hour or two before bedtime is good) to slough off as much dead skin as possible. Think of it as starting with a clean, fresh canvas. Then apply moisturizer (not the tanning kind) to your knees, elbows, feet and ankles. Those areas have thicker, drier skin that tends to pick up concentrated amounts of self-tanner, and you'll have noticeably darker (and, yes, orange/brown) spots there if you don't take this precaution. The moisturizer acts to both dilute the self-tanner a little, and prevent the thicker skin from soaking up too much of the color. Once the color begins to show--usually in 8 to 12 hours--take a good look in the mirror and check for uneven places or overly brown knees and elbows. If you have dark spots, use some of the body scrub to exfoliate away; you should be able to even up most of the mishap, though it might take a day or two to competely even out.

If you're using the daily moisturizer (more dilute) self-tanner, it'll take 3-4 consecutive days of application to build a good tan. This is where it becomes goof-proof, because you can easily touch up uneven areas and build a nice even tan with few noticeable boo-boos along the way. Once you've got a good base tan established, maintenance is easy at just a couple of applications a week. Enjoy that (completely fake and wonderfully healthy) sun-kissed look!

1 comment:

  1. Hmm...I may try the l'oreal stuff. I've tried the Neutrogena gradual tanning stuff before.

    I admit, though, I'm from NJ, so I often go the natural (and sometimes tanning bed) route to a tan.