If you want to enjoy a sun-kissed glow without exposing your skin to sunburn and premature aging, self-tanning is the way to go. But how do you choose the perfect self-tan shade for your skin tone? Choosing the wrong color can result in an orange or unnatural look that can ruin your confidence. In this article, I’ll guide you through selecting the right self-tan product to enjoy a flawless year-round bronze.
How to Choose the Perfect Self-Tan Shade for Your Skin Tone
Step 1: Determine Your Undertone
- Warm Undertones: If your veins appear greenish and you look good in earthy tones like gold, orange, and warm reds, you likely have warm undertones.
- Cool Undertones: If your veins appear blue, you tend to burn before tanning, and you look great in jewel tones like blue, purple, and cool shades of pink, you likely have cool undertones.
- Neutral Undertones: If it’s difficult to determine whether your veins are green or blue, and you can wear both warm and cool tones well, you likely have neutral undertones.
Step 2: Consider Your Natural Skin Color
- Light Skin: For fair skin, starting with a lighter shade is best to avoid an unnatural contrast. Look for self-tan products that offer a subtle glow rather than a deep tan.
- Medium Skin: Medium skin can pull off a wider range of self-tan shades. You can go for medium to dark tanning solutions with violet undertones that enhance your natural color. The violet cancels out yellow undertones and enhances the lovely olive skin color.
- Dark Skin: A deep self-tan color can create a radiant effect for those with melanin-rich skin. Look for self-tanners that add richness with violet and brown to avoid looking orange or ashy.
Step 3: Select the Self-Tan Product Color
- Warm Undertones: With warm undertones, look for a self-tan solution with a violet undertone to compliment your natural skin color and neutralize yellow tones. A caramel solution may also create a beautiful sun-kissed effect.
- Cool Undertones: Cool undertones pair well with self-tanners with olive, green, or ash undertones to prevent an overly orange appearance. They result in a more natural-looking tan.
- Neutral Undertones: Those with neutral undertones have the flexibility to experiment with a variety of self-tan shades. You can try both warm and cool-toned tanning solutions to see which suits you best.
Step 4: Select the Self-Tan Product Style
- Self-tanning foam: Often the type that first comes to mind, but sometimes challenging for beginners to apply evenly. However, it provides noticeable results in one to eight hours. Pro tip: Invest in an applicator mitt.
- Sunless tanning or gradual tanning lotion: The most straightforward self-tanning product, it builds a bronze in one to three days.
- Self-tanning drops: Instead of purchasing a standalone product, add drops to your favorite lotion or face moisturizer.
- Sunless tanning wipes: Small disposable towels saturated with self-tanning solution. Perfect for those who prefer minimum mess.
- Spray tan: Let the professionals bronze your body. All you have to do is show up.
Following are examples to help you find what you need.
Beauty By Earth Tanning Lotion Self Tanner
If you need help figuring out where to start, this gradual tanning lotion is my favorite. It gradually builds a gorgeous glow without exposing you to harmful ingredients. Moreover, the organic formula features nourishing ingredients like shea butter, aloe, and botanicals for healthy skin.
It’s safe for most users to apply on the face and body. However, if you have an acne-prone complexion, see the brand’s lotion for glowing skin instead.
Choose from either fair to medium or medium to dark versions. Both come with a satisfaction guarantee.
Jergens Natural Glow +FIRMING Self Tanner
This drugstore self-tanner offers an additional benefit. It also firms and refreshes dry skin to reduce the appearance of cellulite in only one week.
It has a pleasant fragrance right out of the bottle, but don’t be surprised if you notice the typical self-tanning odor a little later. This is a natural side effect of DHA, the active ingredient that browns the skin. It will fade within an hour or so.
Bondi Sands 1-Hour Express Self-Tanning Foam
If you’re in a hurry to tan, express self-tanning foam is the ideal solution. After 30 minutes, users with light skin will develop a sun-kissed glow. After an hour, they will have a noticeable bronze. And if you leave the foam on overnight, you’ll get the darkest result.
Bondi Sands Dark Self Tanning Foam + Application Mitt
As you might imagine, the dark self-tanning foam builds the deepest tan. Apply it before bed, wait 15 minutes before dressing, then wake up looking like you’ve been on vacation. Reapply the next day and shock yourself with how dark you’ll go.
This salon-quality product is easy to use and never leaves the skin orange. Moreover, it’s cruelty-free and vegan.
Now that you know what you need, are you ready to get started? Then, here are tips for a flawless tan.
Tips for a Flawless Self-Tanning Experience
- Remember to exfoliate and shave the day before you tan. Dry patches and body hair can cause a tan to look blotchy and uneven. Shaving or exfoliating too close to tanning time leaves pores open to staining.
- Less is more: Start with a lighter shade or wait less before showering if you’re unfamiliar with how the product color develops. It’s easier to reapply than it is to erase a self-tan.
- Be sparing when applying sunless tanner to knuckles, elbows, ankles, and knees. Consider using a lightweight, non-oily moisturizer for those spots before tanning.
- The guide color is your friend. Not only does it give you an instant bronze, but it also helps you see where you’ve applied so you don’t overdo it.
- Wash your hands after putting on the product to avoid staining your palms. Check around your nails, as the skin there may go too dark.
- Check the directions to see how long to wait before dressing and showering.
- Not all brands are equal. If you’re trying something new, test it on a skin patch out of sight.
- Remember to moisturize daily. Your tan will last longer if your skin is well-hydrated.
- Avoid oily skin care products as they may disintegrate the fake tan.
- Plan on reapplying self-tanning products every 3 to 7 days, depending on how dark you want to stay.
With these tips in mind, you can choose the perfect self-tan shade for your skin tone and rock a sun-kissed look all year round. Remember to reapply every few days to keep your tan and maintain your skin hydrated and healthy. Happy tanning!