Avoid the Victoria Beckham dried-apricot look. BRIDES magazine shares expert advice to successful self-tanning.
1) Experiment Test your self-tanner on the back of your hand to make sure that you're comfortable with the texture (powder, lotion, or cream) and that it blends easily. Word to the wise: All experimentation—including a full-body test—should be done at least three weeks before your big event (wedding, graduation, birthday blowout, etc.). Once you have the hang of it, self-tan 24 to 48 hours prior to the big day for the most natural results.
2) Smooth your skin Start the tanning process by exfoliating your entire body (face, too) with a gentle, grainy scrub to remove dead surface cells and keep dry patches from absorbing color unevenly. Pay special attention to the thick-skinned areas like elbows, knees, and feet, which tend to be the roughest spots.
3) Create a barrier Rub a thin coat of light, nongreasy moisturizer onto your elbows, knees, and feet to help prevent them from absorbing more tanner—and thus becoming darker—than the rest of your body. Let it soak in for 10 minutes.
4) Apply the tanner Place a quarter-size amount of tanner in your palms, rub them together, then massage the product onto your skin, using sweeping circular motions. Start with your ankles and work up, adding more tanner as needed and skipping the elbows, knees, and feet. (Hit these body parts last with a dime-size amount of lotion.) Let the tanner dry for 20 minutes before getting dressed. Resist the temptation to apply a second coat for at least four hours—the usual time it takes the color to fully develop.
5) Wash your hands Do it immediately after application to prevent staining, a dead giveaway of a fake tan. Use a small brush, and focus on your nail beds.—Cara Birnbaum, BRIDES Magazine