Tanning products, both sunless and sun, go to work on the epidermis, or the outside layer of your skin, and not the dermis or inner layer. However, the layer of epidermis that is affected by sunless versus the layer affected by sun tanning products differs.
Sun tanning lotions, sprays, gels or foams, go to work on the stratum basale or deepest layer and sunless tanning items go to work on the stratum corneum or outermost layer.
WHEN TO APPLY:
Since most self tanning lotions have no sunscreen for protection outdoors, the best time to use self tanners is at night before going to bed.
If done earlier, allow a minimum of two hours and test for staining before putting back on your regular clothes. If your lotion contains extra coloring formula or if you're using a spray, staining could be a major issue and you won't to go to bed and stain bedding; so use these types of products earlier in the evening or when you have more time to "dry" after applying (at least a few hours).
WHAT TO DO:
Gather your necessary items together. Choose what you want to wear if you want tanning lines, whether it's a swimsuit, undergarments, etc. Use caution in your choices because the product may stain or run so choose old clothing, especially without nylon (permanently stains this fabric), and not loose clothing (to inhibit runny lotions). You will also need to be able to shower or wash beforehand.
Get a cotton washcloth or whatever you use to exfoliate your skin (sponge and other product, etc.), soap, any moisturizer you may want to use, your self tanning product, disposable clear gloves, a nail brush, a ball cap, hair pins or accessories to keep hair from your face, a sponge roller brush or paintbrush if you will apply product to your back, and access to a clock.
If you are not going to use disposable gloves, you will need to wash your hands and scrub your nails often while applying the tanning product so that they don't stain orange.
WHERE TO APPLY:
Begin with a shower or washing to remove dead, flaky and dry skin. Wash with your washcloth or exfoliation sponge, gently going in a circular motion. Special areas of focus are your knees and lower legs, your ankles and feet, and your elbows. When finished, dry yourself, including your hair, thoroughly, and get hair up off neck. Let steam out of the room, if you'll be continuing in there. (Remember: moisture like steam & sweat can cause the self tanning product to run / wear off.)
Gently rub moisturizer into the special areas of focus mentioned above (knees, ankles, etc) to prepare for the self tanning solution. Some apply this to the face and neck areas, too.
It's time to apply your tanning product.Beginners should practice on small areas first.
FIVE MINUTE LEGS: Begin by applying the tanning product to your legs. Work with one leg at a time, applying in a circular motion from top to bottom. For feet and ankles, go ahead and apply a little thinner coating. Most prefer to cover the torso first, using the roller brush or paintbrush on the back, then continue with the arms.
FIVE MINUTE UPPER BODY: Continue applying product upwards in circular motion. Most prefer to cover the torso first, using the roller brush or paintbrush on the back, then continue with the arms. If it's taking awhile to cover all areas and you're not using gloves, remember to check the clock and wash hands and nails thoroughly before continuing. (Treat elbows as you did knees).
FIVE MINUTE NECK-UP: Time to finish up with the neck, face, ears, nose, cheeks. Go lightly is the motto for these areas.
Now it's time for drying. Depending upon the tanning product and your genetics, you will want to wash and exfoliate the dry, flaky, dead skin cells and reapply product every few days or so.
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