Don’t expect to get self-tanning right on your first go. Those who have been self-tanning for years know that practice makes perfect, and you will more than likely have a couple of hiccups until you perfect your technique and find the right product.
The biggest issue most people have when self-tanning at home is that their skin turns an orange color, instead of a delicious bronze. This is really not ideal and is a huge giveaway that you have used a self-tanner when you really just want your skin to appear naturally sun-kissed.
How exactly do you achieve a brown tan instead of an orange one? There are a few steps to take to ensure that your tan does not turn out orange. First, you need to put in the right prep, secondly, you need to choose the right formula, and then you need to pick the right shade. These steps are so important to ensure you achieve the tan you want, with no tell-tale orange shades.
Self-tanning is a skill you need to learn, but the below steps and tips are a good way to get started on the right foot, helping you get a brown tan, instead of an orange one!
How to Get a Brown Tan Instead of Orange
Probably the most important step of getting a brown tan instead of an orange one is choosing the proper shade for your skin. However, with that said, we can’t negate the importance of prep work and maintenance!
1. Prep Your Skin
Skin which is not prepped before a self-tan is a good candidate to turn orange. Excess dry skin soaks up self-tanner more than other parts of the body, and this can cause unnatural dark and orange spots that nobody wants.
To prepare your skin, you should remove the dead skin by exfoliating in the shower with a textured sponge or an oil-free exfoliator (like these). This helps to remove excess skin cells, especially when focusing on the areas which are naturally drier, such as the elbows, wrists, and ankles.
If you are wanting to shave or wax before your tan, which is advised, you should do for the day before you tan, which prevents shaving and waxing stripping away the color when your tan is applied.
Preparing your skin for a self-tan is the first step to ensure that your skin is a clean, fresh canvas, which can evenly absorb the self-tanning product, free from dark patches and an orange tone, and if you do not prep your skin, you can wave an even, bronzed tan goodbye.
2. Pick The Right Formula
You cannot walk into a store and pick any old self-tanner off of the shelf. You need to dedicate some thought into picking the right formula for yourself.
For the first time tanners at home, a gradual tanner is the best option. It will not give you too much color at first and will ease you into the self-tanning process. My personal favorite gradual tanner is this one from Neutrogena.
Using a self-tanner, you can build up a tan gradually over a few days or weeks, and if you notice a more orange tone, you can stop applying the self-tanner before it gets any worse.
To learn about the difference between gradual tanners and instant tanners, you can read this article.
Some have a drier skin tone, and for them, an oil-based tanning lotion would be a great option. These contain moisturizing ingredients that help to keep the skin hydrated throughout the self-tanning process.
For the more experienced self-tanners, a spray or mist self-tanner is preferred, and while the mist or spray might seem easy to use, you need to know what you need to do to make sure all areas of your body are covered and blended in evenly.
With the sprays, you need to make sure to hold them far enough away from your body to avoid an intense spray and to rather achieve a fine mist.
Another choice is to use tanning wipes. These are fairly easy to use, as long as you are able to reach all the areas of your body.
3. Pick Your Shade
Once you have chosen the right formula, you need to take some time to pick the right shade. The wrong shade will definitely leave you looking orange and unnatural.
If you just want a light sun-kissed look, rather go with a lighter shade. For a week-in-the-sun look, try a medium shade, and if you want a noticeable tan, you should choose a dark shade.
To cancel out any orange tones, look for a self-tanning formula that has an added purple or green tint, which are the two colors that neutralize orange and instead leave a brown, bronzed tone.
Below are additional tips that are just as important as the 3 main steps above! Even after you’ve chosen the right formula and shade for your skin type, there is way more to know about getting that perfectly bronzed look.
Do Not Over Moisturize
Most people will say you need to moisturize extensively before self-tanning, and while this is true, there is a bit of a problem with over-moisturizing.
You should not spread lotion generously over your entire skin, instead, focus on the problem areas such as the elbows, hands, knees, feet and other dry areas.
Too much moisturizer on the skin can make the tan lighter in some areas and even dilute it further. Even the wrong types of lotion can ruin your tan. To learn which lotions to avoid after a spray tan, read this article.
The drier areas develop much darker than the rest of the body, which is where the tell-tale patchy elbows and knees come from. Moisturizing these areas lighten the tan in these areas and help them to blend into the other areas.
Use A Mitt
You need to protect your hands when self-tanning! Exposed to too much self-tanner when applying it to the rest of your body, your hands will turn bright orange.
Using a mitt, like one of these, will save you from this, and ensure your hands can be blended in naturally at the end to match the rest of your skin.
With the mitt, start at your ankles and work our way up your body using long and circular strokes, to achieve complete coverage. Spend some extra time blending in the product to your elbows and ankles, to prevent them from turning darker than the rest of your body, blending them into the surrounding areas.
Save Your Hands Until The End
A tanning mitt is the key to ensuring your hands do not turn orange and patchy. Before applying self-tanner to your hands, moisturize them from front to back. Then, use excess self-tanner left on the tanning mitt to blend into your hands, working the way down to your wrists.
Once you have completed one hand, use a wet wipe to clean away your nails, cuticles, and palms. Self-tanner left on nails tends to turn them yellow and pretty gross.
Once this is done, blend a little bit of moisturizer from the bottom of the palm over the crease in the wrist. This will make the tan seamless.
Avoid washing your hands for a few hours after this.
Don’t Reapply Over Your Whole Body
The tan on your face and hands will fade the fastest, as these two body parts are washed most often. When these areas begin to fade, do not be tempted to apply self-tanner to the rest of your body as well.
Only apply the self-tanner to your hands and face when needed, and then stick to your schedule of reapplying the tanner to the rest of your body every one to two weeks.
Applying self-tanner to the rest of your skin when the tan has not faded will land you with some dark and orange patches, and some unsightly streaks. Rather wait for the fade to tan, exfoliate and then reapply the tan all over.
You can also choose to use a cream bronzer to highlight the tan on your face, which gives it a beautiful, natural glow. My favorite is this one.
How can I make my tan less orange?
If you are in the unfortunate position of having an orange tan after your application, don’t stress too much, there are still a few things you can do to remove the orange tone.
You can use lemon juice to lighten the darker areas, or you can use a baking soda mixture to scrub your skin with. The baking soda will help to remove the orange tones, but it might also leave your tan patchy, so you might need to do a more careful reapplication after this.
What makes a self-tan turn orange?
The active ingredient in self-tanner is DHA. DHA reacts with dead skin cells, turning them a darker color.
Not all skin types react the same when exposed to DHA, and applying too much DHA, or self-tanner to the skin might result in an orange tan. This happens more when the self-tanner is applied to pale or light skin tones.
Can I apply self-tan over and existing self-tan?
You should never apply self-tanner over an existing self-tan unless it is a gradual self-tanner.
Applying a self-tan over an existing self-tan will lead to orange, dark patches, which would not be a good look on anyone. You will need to remove the self-tan from your skin before applying a new coat.
Avoiding An Orange Tan – Conclusion
Self-tanning at home can seem daunting, but with the right steps and precautions, you should be able to successfully achieve a brown tan at home, without any orange tones.
It might take a few tries to get it perfect, but with these tips, you should be successful in giving yourself a gorgeous bronze glow to show off all year round, without any of those unwanted orange tones!