Rue How-To: Self Tanning 101 For A The Healthy Glow

Badgley Mischka Summer is officially here, and as the temperature goes up, so too does our fear of having less-than-ready-for-airtime limbs. By now we all know about the dangers of skin cancer – so faux tanning is the chicest, safest way to get that bronze glow.

Self tanners have come such a long way from when they first hit the scene (no more of that “fake tan” smell, orange hue, streaks, or spots!). There are so many great products on the market now, whether self tanners, gradual tanners, or bronzers.

A self tanner will give you that sunkissed color without being exposed to the sun. Its main ingredient is DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which reacts to your amino acids, giving you a golden glow in 3-4 hours that will last about 5-7 days. Just don’t shower or sweat for about four hours to give the self tanner time to develop.

Gradual tanners give you a golden glow after a few days of use – you’ll be your darkest after about four days, and you’ll maintain the color as long as you continue using them daily.

Bronzers are mainly makeup lotions or powders – they provide immediate color and wash off in the shower. Just be careful if you’re wearing tight or light clothing – the bronzer might rub off and stain.

I prefer using self tanners over spray tanning for a few reasons. One, because I like to be golden all the time and I can maintain my tan more easily at home day after day. It’s also much more cost effective to do it on your own – it’s about $25+ for one spray tan that will last 5-7 days, or you can purchase one of the products I mentioned for $30-35 and you will get about 5-8 applications out of them. If you’re tanning for a special occasion and not comfortable or patient doing it yourself, then the spray tan might be for you.

My top 3 products:
St. Tropez Self Tanner (lotion)
Dior Self Tanner (gel)
Tan Towel

St. Tropez has a light floral smell – not that “fake tan” smell. Just put it on (with gloves), let it develop for four hours (or overnight – what I do) and shower in the morning for a gorgeous glow. Things to note: When you put the lotion on, wear gloves. You will look streaky when you’re finished, but the excess product will wash off when you shower – it will also rub off on your clothes, so don’t wear white. This product takes more work than the others, but it does give the most color.

Dior is much easier – it’s better if you need color quick and you’re on the go. All you need is 20 minutes to let it dry before you put clothes on.

The tan towel is super easy to apply as well. You might smell a slight “tanning smell” when you first apply it.

Make sure you exfoliate and shave before your first application for an even tan – especially with self tanners. And wash your hands when you’re done applying – tan palms are not a good look for anyone. And don’t forget to accessorize and bring out your tan even more with pastel and neon nail polishes and coral and hot pink lipsticks (totally in for summer).

[Swimsuit shown in image from Badgley Mischka. Boutique opens Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 11AM.]

June 18, 2011