Author: Laura Gummerman,Makeup,Style,

Our search for the perfect self-tanner abeautifulmess.comSummer is on its way here! Unless you are one of those lucky ducks that lives in warm weather all year round, you've probably been dreaming about shorts and beach attire for the past six months, and you're itching to pull your spring and summer clothes out of storage. In anticipation of pool parties and picnics, we wanted to hunt down the perfect self-tanners and get a jump on some summer color. Here at the office we have some people with really fair skin as well as others that like a richer and darker color, so we wanted to find a good option for everyone when it came to their perfect idea of a summer glow.

First off, you'll want to exfoliate your skin before applying the self-tanner. Exfoliating will remove the top layer of skin that is just about to come off, so your tan will last longer. With any self-tanner that you use, you'll want to moisturize your knees, elbows, ankles, hands, and feet before applying self-tanner. Quickly gloss over knees and elbows with the tanner and fade a small amount of the color onto the tops of your hands and feet so the color doesn't just stop suddenly. This will help give the tan a more natural look. Oh, and make sure to shave at least 24 hours before using the tanner to give the pores a chance to open back up again (otherwise it may be a bit splotchy).  Our search for the perfect self-tanner

Nivea Sun-Kissed Radiance: This is the perfect self-tanning lotion if you have fair skin. Just apply the lotion as you would ordinary moisturizer, and you'll see a subtle change in color with each use. You'll also get the added benefit of soft skin since it's got a lot of the same moisturizing properties as regular lotion. Just make sure the lotion has fully absorbed before getting dressed, and wash your hands after application. 

L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Airbrush Self-Tanning: This is another great option for light-skinned individuals. It takes a few minutes to get used to the spray feature (if you aren't already a spray painting genius), but the key is to keep the sprayer moving back and forth at all times and start farther away when you start the spray, and back off as you stop. It smells great, feels light, and it only takes about 10 minutes to dry. Plus, it's really affordable and you can easily find this item at your local drugstore—perfect!

St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse: We love this mousse for achieving a natural, even, medium glow. I would definitely suggest also purchasing an application mitt when using a tanning mousse. You can use it several times and it saves your hands from darkening. Just pump a squirt of the mousse onto the mitt and apply it in small circles (almost as if you were buffing a car). This tanner has a bit of a "self-tanner smell," but it's not very strong, and once you rinse off, the faint smell fades away. If you apply the tanner at night and plan on rinsing off in the morning (you should wait 4-8 hours before getting wet), I would apply it at least two hours before climbing into bed. I don't see the tanner on my light grey sheets, but I sleep on my side (with my arm under the pillow), and a few spots rub off if I apply it too close to bedtime.

Sun Laboratories Overnight Tan: We liked this lotion a lot. If you consider yourself the type of person who does get a decent tan throughout the summer but you're currently at ground zero (a.k.a. the winter-pale-leg-blues), we'd highly recommend giving this lotion a try. Apply a small amount of the lotion to your skin, rubbing the lotion in until it's completely absorbed (we suggest wearing latex gloves to keep your hands from becoming too dark). You'll be able to tell a difference after one application, but for a deeper tan you can apply another layer a few days later (up to three times within the first week). Do not rinse off or shower for at least a couple hours after applying this lotion.

Tanwise Dark Bronzing Sunless Mousse:  This is the darkest of our favorite tanning products. The same rules apply as applying the St. Tropez mousse, but you'll get a darker result once you are done. Tanwise also has a gel for your face and neck that produces an even tan with a great cherry/almond smell. You don't even feel the need to wash your face once it dries (which is pretty quick)! Our search for the perfect self-tanner  Take care of your tan by:
-Choosing a soap-free moisturizing body wash. Soap will strip your tan from your skin faster, so look for a soap-free body wash (it should say it's soap-free on the packaging) that will moisturize as well. 

-Exfoliating every day. Even though this does take a little bit of the tan off each time, it helps the tan fade more evenly (instead of fading in patches).
-Moisturizing daily with lotion. This will hydrate your skin, keep the top layer of skin from coming off too quickly, and will also fade your tan more evenly. 

I personally was pretty skeptical of self-tanner before this challenge. I did an airbrush spray tan at a salon last year in a quest to get out of the sun, but even though it wasn't streaky or orange, it smelled pretty bad, felt sticky, and it was too expensive to maintain for very long. Now I have several products that I like, and I can use them at home in the middle of our Missouri winters—yes! Just having more color this week has brought out the spring fever and summer longing in all of us. Hope you find your perfect glow as well! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Laura Gummerman & Elsie Larson. Photos edited using Stella from the Signature Collection.  


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