I Finally Learned How To Use Self-Tanner

Ok, first of all, this is not a post I thought I would ever be writing. I think the more I age, the more high maintenance I become and it's a little embarrassing. But, the more I age the more I realize how important it is to take care of myself; case in point, my skin. 

Like every normal human being I have always loved being tan. My skin tans fairly easily so in the summer time I've always like to soak up as much sun as possible. I also have eczema and UV rays helps clear it up, so that was always my excuse that made me feel better. I never have skin irritation issues in the summer. I also always make sure to get myself checked each year because I have a lot of moles and I want keep on top of them. 

But a couple years ago I had a cancerous mole removed. It wasn't anything major and it hadn't spread elsewhere. The strange thing was the mole was on my hip; a place that rarely sees the sun. It freaked me out a bit and I determined that I was going to be much more careful from then on. I truly have been, too. I use sunscreen now when I never used to, I don't worship the sun anymore, and I've continued my yearly mole screenings. 

I was never really keen on the idea of sunless tanning. For one, I had tried drug store self-tanners in the past (like 15 years ago) and they smelled like roadkill, made my skin orange, and irritated the heck out of my skin. So I always assumed all self-tanners were crap. I hated the idea of paying someone to get a spray tan (not to mention having to be naked in front of them) and I knew they were a lot of maintenance to keep looking nice. So I was just conservative with my sun exposure and called it good. 

This year, though, has changed my perspective for two reasons. 1) I'm pregnant and swollen in places I didn't used to be which looks even more unappealing with white skin. 2) I have lots of friends at my gym who use self-tanner and it looks remarkable on them. I got pretty tired of feeling like a vampire-blimp and with the reassurance of my friends, I decided to give self-tanning a try. 

There are countless of self-tanners on the market and I've tried .01% of them. Each friend recommended something different, but I knew which one I wanted to try. I follow several YouTube beauty guru's and a popular self-tanner among them is called Loving Tan. Sure, it was more expensive than Jergens, but the color was amazing on all their different skin tones, the ingredients are vegan, and it doesn't irritate sensitive skin. Win, win, win! So I ordered some and started this whole trial and error process. 

Can we talk about how cutely they package their shipments? I felt special. 

I googled "Loving Tan discount codes" and found one that included a free back applicator with the purchase of a bottle. The applicator normally costs $24.95!! Score!! 
Loving Tan has 3 colors: medium, dark, and ultra dark. I threw caution to the wind and listened to the vain voice in my head and ordered the ultra dark. They say it's for experienced self-tanners only, and I can see why, but I figured with all the how-to videos I had watched I would be fine. 

This has definitely been a process, you guys. There is a learning curve, but I have been hooked from the second I applied my first tan. It ended up not being as intimidating as it seemed, and with these tricks I'm going to share with you (both self-taught and learned from YouTube) anyone can apply sunless tanner and avoid the harmful affects of the sun without blending in with the clouds year round. Plus, I can't argue with these results
So here we go...

I am the farthest from a sunless tanning products expert, so I have no advice to give except that I love what I purchased. So much!! So I would say do some research, watch YouTube, ask friends, and find a product you would like to try. 

The first time I tried sunless tanning I was told to shower, shave, and exfoliate immediately before applying. That was kind of true except for shaving. The skin on my legs is most sensitive after I've shaved (I actually have to use hydrocortisone cream on my legs each time I shave) so my first run was a DISASTER!! My eczema broke out so badly it took almost 2 weeks to clear up. In the meantime I emailed the Loving Tan company and got some sound advice for the next time. 

What the company recommended and what has worked for me, is shaving the day before applying. Then my legs aren't hairy, but they aren't highly sensitive either. It's helped a lot. So about 24 hours before I apply, I make sure to shave. Pits, too. 

Immediately before applying self-tanner (which I do in the evenings) I shower, wash my skin, and then exfoliate my entire body with a sugar scrub, including my face. I posted a recipe for an all-natural, cheap, DIY sugar scrub a couple posts back that I'm loving. I would recommend that cause you can make it with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Let's get real, the tanner costs enough, you don't need to waste more money on something fancy and expensive. 

Once out of the shower I begin moisturizing. Some people say not to do this, but with my dry skin, it's necessary. First, I moisturize my face. 
I use the jojoba oil on the extra dry parts of my face and then apply my daily moisturizer on top and let that soak in. 

Next, I apply body moisturizer.
This obviously helps my skin issues and it's super thick and moisturizing. I apply it to my arms and legs -- my problem areas. 

The next step is one that's printed on the bottle; I liberally moisturize my wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. This helps keep the tanner from clinging to these dry, wrinkly spots and looking stupid. I'm still learning how to perfect these areas, but it makes a huge difference. 
I love using this unscented body butter from Leanne Grace Skin Care. It really is like butter and doesn't absorb super fast, nor is it greasy. 

Now, I'm ready to start applying the self-tanner. You will need 3 tools that will make application a breeze:
1) an applicator mitt
2) a synthetic kabuki brush (I got this one on Amazon for like $8 or something) 
3) a back applicator. This isn't required if you have someone who's always willing to help apply it to your back, but my husband isn't always around to assist -- plus it was free with my purchase. 

I start with my face and squirt a little bit of tanner out onto the brush and blend it into my face and neck just like I would with foundation. Just keep blending until it is all absorbed into the skin. (Side note: this self-tanner also doesn't make me break out which is HUGE) 

Next I move on to my arms and chest. I squirt the product onto the mitt and rub in circular motions until it's all blended in. I always apply to the places that would naturally see the sun first, then blend out from there. Make sure you apply in front of a mirror and continually check under your arms for streaks that you would have missed without the mirror. I use the brush to blend it on my hands (make sure to blend well between your fingers, I learned this the hard way) and on my elbows and armpits. It makes it look much more natural. 

Then I apply it to my back. I squirt the tanner onto the applicator and clumsily try to blend it in. This is the hardest part for me since reaching my back is getting harder and harder. I would skip this if it wasn't for my workout tops showing some of my back. *eye roll* but it's not too bad. With some time I can make it look nice. 

Lastly I do my legs. I start with my feet and use the brush on those, then move up the legs using sparingly on my ankles and knees. Then guess what? I'm done!! 

I wait about two minutes to make sure it's really dry, then I put on loose fitting clothing and go about my business. I clean my tools thoroughly and usually end up needing a Clorox wipe for the counter because I always happen to make a mess, no matter how hard I try not to. 

The product I purchased recommends leaving on the tanner for 8 hours. So I just apply it before bed and sleep with it on. I know what you're thinking: doesn't that dye your clothes and sheets?! Surprisingly, no it doesn't. We even have white sheets and it never rubs off on them unless I happen to sweat a lot. The company has a 2 hour express product as well, which I have tried, but it doesn't come in ultra dark so I switched to this. 

The next morning, I wake up and then get in the shower to wash off the tanner. I only use a small amount of soap and my hands - NO LUFAS - to rinse it off. Then I pat dry, notice the places I still need to work on (always my knees and hands) and then enjoy the color change everywhere else. Isn't it incredible?! 
I'm so obsessed with how it makes my skin look. 
For me the tan lasts about 5-7 days. I keep my skin moisturized and hydrated to prolong the tan. It will fade over those days but I definitely still look tan. 

Another thing I learned the hard way is to not apply another round until you have completely scrubbed off the excess from your previous application. To do this (the night before the day I shave) I'll soak in the tub for a while and use a lufa and scrub the excess off. Warning: it's gross. Your water will turn brown and you will definitely need to wash off afterward and clean your tub. But it helps me start with a clean slate and reminds me how white I really am :). 

So there you have it! I know it sounds like a lot, but you can take it from me that it's really not bad. I'm pretty lazy and avoid stuff like this, so if I can do it, so can you. The whole process takes about 30-45 minutes, depending on how long I hang out in the shower first. Then I'm good to go about life and sleep. Doesn't get much easier than that! I also workout daily and sweat a lot and have never had it run off or get on my clothes. I feel like it's virtually maintenance free until it's time to apply it again. I love it so much! 

I know this was a random post but I had to share it with you. It's been my best friend. I promise I'll go back to my super-lame posts next time. *wink*

See you, soon! 

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