Thinking of using some self-tanner to get a safe and healthy glow for the summer and wondering, “Should you moisturize before fake tanning?” Well, it’s a great question, and in this brief but informative article, we’ll talk about this in detail. However, just to answer the question right away:
Yes, you should moisturize before self-tanning. Many areas of the body such as the hands, feet, elbows, and knees, have drier thicker skin and develop and hold self-tanner more easily, which can cause uneven coloring. Thoroughly moisturizing prior to applying fake tanning will help to apply color more evenly.
Now let’s talk a little bit more about why you should apply moisturizer before fake tanning, how long to wait after applying moisturizer, and which moisturizers are best for you.
Why You Should Apply Moisturizer Before Self Tanning
Good quality moisturizers help to relieve dry skin and allow the outer layers of your skin to retain more moisture. Not only is this a great practice for good skin health, but it is also a vital step before applying self-tanner.
Have you ever noticed someone that has been using sunless tanner perhaps for the first time, and there are some inconsistencies in their coloring? Usually, this occurs in a few places, such as the hands, feet, elbows, knees, and creases of the skin. These are the areas of your body that typically are the driest, and the skin is thickest.
Remember that the active ingredient in most self-tanning products is a color additive called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When this chemical touches dead skin cells a chemical reaction occurs that ultimately darkens the outer layer of your skin, simulating a tan. This differs from traditional tanning with the sun or a tanning bed, because those methods actually create pigment in the lower layer of your skin that lasts much longer.
Drier areas of skin will retain more dead skin cells, so there is more to react with the chemicals inside the self-tanner, causing a darker brighter tan to form.
For this reason, it is best practice to first gently exfoliate your skin with something like the Astura Dead Sea Salt Scrub from Amazon. After you’ve removed a layer of dead skin cells through exfoliation, you then want to thoroughly moisturize your skin to even out the texture and prevent dryness.
Using a moisturizer before self-tanning also has the added benefit of prolonging the tan. Since you’re allowing the tan to penetrate deeper into the now-moisturized skin, it will tend to fade slower and require fewer re-applications.
Best Moisturizers To Use Before Fake Tanning
I think by far my favorite moisturizer to apply before sunless tanning would be this one from St. Tropez. It is specifically formulated to be applied right before your self-tanner. It helps to reduce break-up in your tan, and allow it to fade evenly. Some moisturizers actually having ingredients that can break down your tan even faster, but this one will not cause any issues like that. On top of that, it will also help your tan to last longer and work better.
Using this is super easy:
- Apply it primarily to the dry areas of your skin like we talked about above (knees, elbows, ankles, hands, feet, and anywhere else that feels dry). Have a friend, or spouse, or family member, or someone assist you with your back if you think it’s dry. The back can be one of the hardest places to apply self-tanner to, so be sure to check out my guide on this.
- Wait about 5-10 minutes, then apply your self-tanner (obviously they would suggest using their own product, such as this one from Amazon that I like, however, any self-tanner will work).
- In the days to follow, continue to moisturize to allow the tan to fade evenly. Reapply the self-tanner as necessary.
This is another good option. Although it isn’t specifically formatted to be applied before fake tan, it also doesn’t contain any concerning ingredients that may break down your tan sooner. It will allow a good amount of moisture into your skin, as well as healing and repairing your skin.
You can get it on Amazon for fairly inexpensive, and it’s just a good overall moisturizer.
Follow the same steps that I listed above for applying this moisturizer shortly before your self-tanner for best results
Can You Moisturize After Fake Tan?
Yes, you certainly can, and in fact, you should. However, be sure that you choose a simple hydrating moisturizer and not one that is oil based. An oil-based moisturizer can break up the dead skin cells that are holding the color and cause it to fade faster and more unevenly.
However, a good hydrating moisturizer like one of the ones above will help make your tan last longer and fade more cleanly.
Do You HAVE To Moisturize Before Fake Tanning?
No, you absolutely don’t have to moisturize before fake tanning, however, it is a very good idea. Like we talked about above, some areas of your body tend to be much drier, and so they will likely hold more fake tan and cause some unevenness in color. Moisturizing these areas helps to prevent this from happening.
Can You Mix Fake Tan With Moisturizer?
You technically can, however, you really shouldn’t as they serve different purposes. Best practice would be to apply a quality moisturizer like one of the ones listed above, and wait 5-10 minutes for it to sufficiently sink in. Then, apply your favorite self-tanning product evenly onto your body. After that has had sufficient time to dry, and for the chemical reactions to take place, resume a normal moisturizing schedule.
Can You Shave After Applying Self-Tanner?
You really shouldn’t. If you plan to shave, try to do it shortly before applying self-tanner instead of right after. Since self-tanner does not actually create pigment deep in the skin, and instead resides on the outermost layer of your skin, shaving the stubble from your legs can actually remove some of the colors from your fake tan as well.
Not only this, it will likely remove it unevenly and could leave your tan looking streaky or blotchy. Other than moisturizing, it’s usually best to do most of your beauty routine prior to applying self-tanner, instead of right afterward, as the chemicals and ingredients in many products could break down the tan faster.