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Self-tanning doesn’t only make you look great – especially if you get stuck in the dead of Canadian winter – it also serves a purpose of protecting your skin from sun overexposure. Sun overexposure breaks down collagen, promotes premature aging and increases the risk of skin cancer.

Here are a couple tips to help you achieve the beautiful tan you’re after!

Before you begin application of your self-tanner, do any other beauty related treatments that you need to do including manicures, pedicures, shaving your legs or getting a wax. 

Choosing Your Tanner

Mousses are my tanner of choice because they tend to go on smoothly and don’t end up streaky if you apply diligently (see the bottom of this article for my recommended products). When choosing the colour of the tanner, base it off of your natural skin tone. If you have fair skin, choose a light or medium tanner, you don’t want to go overboard by choosing a dark tanner and having it look fake. 


Exfoliating before you apply your self-tanner is a necessary step to remove dead skin cells and ensure a smooth application. You can use a washcloth, or an exfoliating mitt and even an exfoliating product. Make sure to exfoliate on areas that could result in uneven application including ankles, heels, knees, elbows and wrists.

Get it: Exfoliating Bath Towel 

Dry and Prep

The next step to a smooth and even application is ensuring your skin is dry. Make sure to dry completely after you shower and exfoliate, then moisturize your skin, and remember to take your time and get those ankles, heels, knees, elbows and wrists. 


Apply self-tanner as you would apply body lotion. Some people even mix lotion in with their self-tanner to ensure a smooth application. Begin with your ankles, then work your way up. Apply the tanner in sections, from lower legs, your shins and calves, then work on your thighs. Then move up to your torso, chest, shoulders and your arms. 

You can use a self-tanning mitt to ensure the palms of your hands won’t be discoloured and uneven. After using a mitt remember to wash it out and leave it to dry. If you don’t use a mitt, wash your hands thoroughly with lots of soap (you can even use toothpaste to get off any stubborn colour). 

To make sure your hands and feet match with the rest of your skin, apply a slight amount of tanner on the backs of your hands extending from your wrists and similarly on your feet from your ankles. If you don’t use a mitt, apply your hands extending from your wrists after you’ve thoroughly washed your hands, so you don’t wash all the tanner off when you are trying to clean your palms.

How to Avoid Blotches

Oftentimes as you’re applying on your legs, you may rub your arm on your leg and get some tanner on the underside of your arms, be sure to rub this in as it occurs so you don’t end up with blotches. Finish with your arms in case this happens. When you’re applying your ankles, knees and elbows go easier, you won’t need to apply as much there because they tend to show more colour and can become blotchy easily.

How to Remove Streak Spots

Whether it’s your first time or your hundredth, mistakes are inevitable. Areas such as the ankle or elbow can get the best of you. if you have made a mistake and applied too much in one area or caused a streak, all you need is some baking soda and half of a freshly squeezed lemon. You want to create a paste by mixing enough baking soda with lemon juice and then apply it to the area. After about an hour try rinsing the paste off and if necessary, begin the process again. 

When to Get Dressed

While some self-tanner instructions will say that you can shower as early as four hours after application, it is best to wait 10-12 hours to avoid washing away the colour.

Wait at least 15 minutes before getting dressed to let the tanner dry, you can even wear loose clothing like a robe or kimono to ensure you won’t stain your clothes. It is not recommended to wear white clothing after you apply tanner since you may risk staining your clothes if your skin gets wet (from the rain or perspiration). The best way to avoid this is to apply it before bed, that way you give the tanner enough time to set it to your desired colour and you can shower once you wake up in the morning. 

Good luck! 

Recommended Products:


Get it: Clarins Liquid Bronze Self-Tanning for Face and Décolleté


Get it: Jergens Natural Glow, Light Bronze or Jergens Natural Glow, Deep Bronze

Get it: Bondi Sands – Self Tanning Foam

Get it: St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse or St. Tropez Self Tan Extra Dark 


Get it: Self-Tanning Mitt