It’s not hard to get a natural-looking tan with sunless tanning products. But some parts of the body are trickier to bronze than others. That’s why I’ve created this article with self-tanning tips for hands and feet. These are the most likely spots where too much or too little product will make your tan look fake. Keep reading to find out which products and methods make sure your whole body has a perfect golden glow.
Preparation is the key to success
There’s nothing like having a beautiful, natural-looking tan to make you feel good. But if your knuckles are stained dark or your palms or soles are an unnatural color, it can wreck your self-confidence. The way you prepare for sunless tanning can make all the difference.
Remove excess body hair and exfoliate your skin the day before
This removes dead skin cells and creates a smooth canvas for your self-tanner. It’s easy to do with an exfoliating mitt, sugar scrub, loofah, or body brush.
Pay attention to problem spots like elbows, knees, ankles, and knuckles. Anywhere you have naturally dry skin, it will probably absorb too much product and end up looking dirty once the tan develops.
Why exfoliate the day before instead of the day you tan? It’s because your skin needs time to settle down or the self-tanner may settle into your open pores.
Zakia’s Morocco Original Kessa Exfoliating Glove
This luxurious exfoliating glove is made with natural cellulose viscose. It’s soft but effective for removing dead cells and leaving the skin silky smooth. It’s ideal for tanning preparation and treating keratosis pilaris (dry, bumpy chicken skin).
Shower right before self-tanning
For best results, use a pH-neutral body wash. Bar soaps with an alkaline or basic formula might cause the skin to look orange with self-tanner.
Also, make sure your skin is completely dry before applying the sunless tanning product. If you’re sweaty or damp, your tan may end up patchy or streaky. That’s also why you have to wait for your skin to dry before you dress.
Use a barrier cream or lotion on problem areas
If you’re worried about your ankles, cuticles, or knuckles absorbing too much product and going too dark, a little lotion can save the day. Don’t use anything oily because it will prevent the self-tanner from penetrating or make it look patchy.
Apply a little moisturizer to your knuckles and ankles and make sure it’s absorbed before tanning. You can also apply barrier cream to the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet to prevent them from absorbing tanning products and becoming discolored.
How to make your hands and feet look naturally tan
You’ve exfoliated, showered, and applied moisturizer if needed. So, how do you make your feet and hands turn out perfect? If you want an even, streak-free application, try these tips:
- Choose the best sunless tanning product for your skin type and tone. (More on that in a moment).
- Use an applicator mitt, sponge, or makeup brush with mousse or lotion for flawless coverage.
- Or use a sunless tanning mist instead.
- Always start light because it’s easier to go darker than to erase the color.
- Clean up cuticles, soles, and palms by washing or using wipes after applying the product.
Those are the basics; the following are the details.
What is the best self-tanning product for hands and feet?
Someone wise once said, “don’t sweat the small stuff”. Unless you have super dry, very oily, or very sensitive skin on your hands and feet, it’s not that big of a deal which product you use.
In general, there are self-tanning lotions, mousses, wipes, and sprays or mists. Each has pros and cons.
For example, lotion is great for tanning dry skin, but it usually doesn’t make you as dark or work as fast as self-tanning mousse. If you’re really on the fence and worried about dirty-looking knuckles, use lotion. You can always apply it again the next day to deepen the color.
Sprays and mists are also handy when you don’t want to deal with an applicator mitt, sponge, or makeup brush.
But self-tanning mousse can give you a nice dark color in a short amount of time. Some products offer an “express tan” in an hour or two.
However, sunless tanning wipes are also convenient. Once you’ve swiped the rest of your body, use what’s left in the wipe for the tops of your hands and feet.
Lastly, pay attention to the type of bronze that the product offers. If you are naturally dark, get the dark version. If you have pale skin, get the fair to medium type. Some brands also offer a Mediterranean bronze or similar variation in color.
At any rate, here’s a self-tanning product bundle with everything you need to get the job done:
Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Bundle
This kit comes with sunless tanning mousse and the tools you need for a flawless application. It has an applicator mitt and a flat-head (kabuki) brush, too.
The sunless tanning mousse will give you a tan in only two hours. Then, your golden glow lasts for a week or longer.
It has a pleasant odor, plus it’s enriched with amino acids and botanicals with lots of antioxidants for healthy skin.
Moreover, this brand offers light, medium, and dark versions for different skin colors. And happily, the products are vegan and cruelty-free.
Although self-tanning mousse is a popular choice, tanning mists and sprays are great for faces, hands, and feet. They are low-mess and straightforward to use. Just spritz yourself, wipe off the excess on your nails, palms, and soles, and let the color develop.
St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Mini Kit
It’s mini but mighty. This travel kit comes with small bottles of bronzing mousse and facial tanning mist as well as an applicator mitt.
The mitt is washable and reusable, which is good news. More importantly, the formulas are gentle on the skin and free of scary chemicals.
Although St. Tropez says there’s no tanning odor, that’s only partly true. You will smell the DHA working for a while, but the smell isn’t too strong. It fades after an hour or so. However, the beautiful color that develops will last for days.
Do you really need an applicator mitt and/or a brush for self-tanning?
No matter what the self-tanning product company says, you absolutely don’t have to use a mitt or brush. But the right tools really do make it easier to avoid streaking, patchiness, and bare spots.
For instance, spread your fingers and look at your hands. If you lay out in the sun, the insides of your fingers (not the palms) would probably get tan. But if you only swipe the tops of your hands with self-tanning product and don’t get between them, your tan won’t look quite as natural.
Furthermore, it’s a big pain to tan hands without staining the palms if you don’t use a tool. I mean, if you used your bare hands to apply the mousse, how are you supposed to wash off the product and still have tanned hands?
Perfectionists understand that a kabuki brush can make all the difference. You can use it to dab the product between your fingers for flawless coverage.
Beauty by Earth Self Tanner Brush
This easy to grip brush will help you have a streak-free, perfect tan. It’s suitable for applying both tanning mousse and lotion. Not only does it help you pinpoint tight spots but also blends edges for gorgeous results.
It has vegan bristles and a bamboo handle so there’s no problem washing it out between applications. You can even use it as a makeup brush for liquid foundation or concealer.
How to use an applicator mitt to tan your hands and feet
First, the mitt keeps your nails and palms from getting stained by self-tanning products. Use long, smooth strokes to do sections of your body one at a time. Put a little mousse on the mitt and do your leg. Repeat on the other side. Then do your torso and arms one at a time. Only then use whatever is left over on the mitt to swipe your feet.
Finally, swipe the top of the bare hand and in between the fingers. Let that hand dry for a moment. Now, carefully switch the mitt and take care of the remaining hand.
As you might imagine, it’s much easier to take off the mitt and do your hands with a makeup brush! That way there’s no risk of smudging product by moving the mitt around on your hands. It’s also simpler to avoid smearing product on your nails and palms.
How to fix a patchy tan
It happens to the pros, not just the inexperienced. Anyone can end up with a streaky tan or with stained cuticles or dark patches on their knuckles or ankles (or elbows). Take a breath and remember this isn’t permanent. It can be fixed.
The easiest solution is to use a tan-removing product like this one:
St. Tropez Prep & Maintain Tan Remover Mousse
Here’s what the pros use to prep for the next spray tan. It exfoliates the color without dehydrating the skin. The foamy formula is fortified with cotton extract and probiotics. All you need to do is massage it in, wait 5 minutes, and rinse off with warm water.
If you don’t have tan remover, you can try DIY solutions like exfoliating body wash or a loofah. Just please be gentle!
Baby oil can also help remove a fake tan. Rub it in, wait a few minutes, and scrub with warm water and soap. Just make sure the skin is not greasy when you reapply the sunless tanning product.
As a last resort, gritty hand-cleaning products made for mechanics or painters (like Fast Orange) will probably work but may irritate the skin.
Whatever you do, if your skin is red or irritated after removing the tan, don’t reapply the sunless tanning product until the following day. You don’t need a rash to make things worse.
Maintaining your bronze glow
Now that you have a beautiful golden bronze, make it last. A fake tan lasts anywhere from 4 to 10 days depending on the type of product, environmental conditions, and your skin’s health. By environmental conditions, I mean how much your skin is exposed to moisture and friction.
Hands get exposed to water a lot so the tan there fades faster. That’s why moisturizing is essential. Keep your skin hydrated so that the color lasts longer. But don’t expect that your hands will stay as dark as long as other parts of your body.
Another way to maintain the color is to use facial tanning mist. Every 3 days or so, spritz your hands. You might need to do this more often or less often depending on the results you get.
Alternatives to sunless tanning products
Although self-tanning with DHA-based products is safer than repeated exposure to the sun, not everyone can do it. Some people may be allergic to self-tanning products. Others find that DHA dries out their skin. And then there are those who don’t have the time to do weekly applications.
If you’re in a time crunch or want to try something different, remember you can use bronzer. It’s makeup, so it may not hold up well if you sweat or go out in the rain. There are also spray solutions that provide instant color but will wash off when you shower.
Now you’re ready to rock a flawless sun-kissed glow year-round. All it takes is a little preparation and effort.
Remember to keep your skin ready for tanning with routine exfoliation and by applying moisturizer daily. Then, use a sunless tanning product that meets your needs, whether it’s a lotion, mousse, wipe, or mist. Also, choose a color that’s best for your skin tone.
Lastly, use applicator tools like a mitt or brush to get a seamless, perfect bronze. And if things don’t turn out as expected, don’t worry. You can remove the color and start over. Practice and patience make perfect!
https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/routine/apply-self-tanner HOW TO APPLY SELF-TANNER by the American Academy of Dermatology Association