Summer is well and truly on its way (and if you live in Brisbane, has kind of already started). The shorts are getting shorter, humidity is in the air (and hair), and Instagram has been taken over by “candid” beach photos of bronzed beauties.
“Yeah,” you think, “I can look bronzed on a budget.” You’re totally confident as you rub on your favourite self-tanner.
You wake the next day and look in the mirror to find yourself blinded by a garish glow. Except for that light patch on your upper back that you JUST CAN’T REACH. People around you keep asking what smells like off coconuts. And the blotchy residue on your wrists, ankles, elbows and knees has people unabashedly inquiring if you have a skin condition.
But before you burst into tears and start checking for vacancies at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (we're sure it's in Brisbane somewhere), just take a minute, breathe, and let us help you (doompa-dee-doo) beat the sun-kissed curse with our 13 best tan hacks.
1 Beauty in a bottle
Get a good start to your glow with the right shade and formula. If you’re a bronzing beginner, experiment with a lighter shade in a mousse formula for a less intense and more easily spreadable application. When you’re comfortable, work with some creams, lotions or sprays to find the formula that best bonds with your skin.
2 Avoid oil or toil
This hack is true for self tans and spray tans; say sayonara to oil-based moisturisers, scrubs and deodorants. Oil acts as a barrier between tanner and your skin, leading to residue and splotchy hell. Damn, oil, why you gotta be like that?
3 Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate!
Removing all dead skin cells with a body scrub (oil-free!) makes your body the perfect canvas for a strong, even tan. (Again, another good spray tan tip if you aren't game to DIY). Get any shaving out of the way at least 12 hours before T-Day to ensure your skin isn’t too sensitive. And you won’t have to worry about shaving off any of your sun-kissed skin.
4 And on the third day, she was tanned…
Make sure you plan ahead for both spray tans and the DIY version: if you want to look bronzed and babin’ for something (or someone), allow two days to let your tan strengthen and bond to your body properly. You can also use these two days to correct any splotches and streaks. Some say sleeping in your tan as it develops (in your cheaper sheets) is best, but do what works for you!
5 It’s a genie in a bottle, you gotta rub it the right way
A good tan doesn’t come from what you rub with but how you rub it. Whether you use a glove, a mitt or bare hands, make sure you stick to large sweeping motions. Best to start just above the ankles and slowly work your way up.
6. Baby got a patchy back
Without a spotter, tanning your back evenly seems impossible. Rather than dislocating your shoulder to reach that upper-middle patch, generously apply some product to the middle of an old hand towel just longer than half an metre and shimmy it across and up and down your back.
7. Cracking good tan without the cracks
Once you’ve finished an application, gently rub some oil-free moisturiser over your elbows and knees to save these rough areas from an unsightly tan build-up.
8. No time to air-dry?
If you need to dry quickly to start another application, have a fan going while you tan. Or, when desperate times call for desperate measures, use a medium-heat hair dryer, remembering to keep it about 20cm from your skin.
9. How to tan the money-maker
The best face tan is a subtle one, but not everyone wants to splurge on a specific face-tanning product. Try mixing some tanning mousse with an oil-free moisturiser and gently rub in, making sure to blend all the way to your ears and neck. For the fair-haired ladies, avoid giving yourself orange highlights by lightly moisturising around your hairline before you tan.
10. Orange palms, many qualms
We all know the look of mixed disgust and confusion people give you when you wave at them with your freakish orange palms. To avoid this awkward situation, run a baby wipe over your palms, the backs of your hands and your feet after you’ve finished an application. Then apply a small amount of product to the back of your hands and the tops of your feet, blending into your wrists and ankles with a standard make-up brush.
11. Out, damned spot
Spray tan or self tan gone awry? We don’t want no scrubs, except when there’s a bad tan to be eradicated. Your favourite body scrub should do the trick, but if you’ve got some stubborn splotches, bicarb soda mixed with water and lemon juice works a treat. We’ve also heard that toothpaste can be a miracle cure, but the jury’s still out on that one.
12. Your legs got super streaks, super streaks, they’re super streakaaay
For streaky legs, either draw yourself a bath, shave your legs and scrub, or simply correct the spots and streaks with some more product, taking extra care to be even. Now’s the time to bust out that medium-heat hair dryer for a quick dry.
13. Be a powder puff girl
To stop from sweating off your tan or streaking it with deodorant, use baby powder under your arms, behind your knees, on your chest and in the creases of your elbows to absorb sweat and prevent cracks.
Now, go forth and self-tan! With these tips in mind, your Oompa Loompa days are over and you’ve got a golden ticket to a perfect sun-kissed look.