Envisioning yourself walking down the aisle with a just-flown-in-from-Bora Bora glow against your pristine white gown, but more than slightly worried about all the ways you could mess it up? Us, too.
It’s easy to be a self-proclaimed self-tanning addict on a daily basis when all you have to do is smear on some tanner and let it do its magic for a random weekend when it truly doesn’t matter. But the thought of streaks, turning Muppet-orange, or bleeding brown all over your wedding dress on the BD (read: Big day. Huge day. Day of all days.) is enough to cripple anyone with enough fear to skip the spray tan and toss out the tanner altogether.
Hold on to your bottles—we got the complete lowdown from St. Tropez’s Skin Finishing Expert, Sophie Evans, on how to guarantee ourselves the most perfect, oopsie-proof, wondrously sun-kissed skin.
DO ...start exfoliating your skin and completing your hair removal a week before the wedding. Bonus “DO”: wait 24 hours in between waxing and any self-tan application—this will ensure the hair follicles have settled to aid in a perfect finish. Prior to self-tan application, remove all products like deodorant, perfume, etc.
We like: Rituals The Ritual of Hammam Sea Salt Hot Scrub ($29, available at Rituals.com)
DON'T ...skimp out on a trial spray tan right before your dress fitting (preferably about two weeks before the big day). This is the best way to see what shade looks perfect against the exact coloring of your gown and if you should go lighter or darker.
DO ...experiment with different shades in advance. In the end, how dark you get is your own preference.
DON'T ...go with just one flat shade. Ask your spray-tan salon if they can customize the color by mixing light and dark solutions for your desired glow. Most places can also contour and add more color where your body needs it. By using additional shades, your skin will have more depth and definition.
DO ...stick to just one professional spray tanning application for your final look. You don’t need any extra sessions to “build up” color. Skin naturally sheds over about ten days, so all you would need to do in between is apply a light self-tan at home to maintain and boost the color.
We like: St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse ($42, available at Sephora.com)
DON'T ...forget to touch up with at-home self tanner every 2-3 days for the face, and a mid-week boost for the body. The self-tan on your face fades faster, due to more exposure and daily cleansing.
We like: COOLA Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum ($54, available at Coolasuncare.com)
DO ...use moisturizer as a barrier for only your elbows, knees, hands, feet, crease in the wrist, back of the heel, around the hairline, and any severe dry areas when you’re applying your booster at home. This keeps those parts specifically from getting too dark and helps the tan look more natural—moisturizing your whole body will dilute the self-tan color, which you don’t want.
We like: Kopari Coconut Balm ($32, available at Koparibeauty.com)
DON'T ...be stingy with how much product you apply. “When a person is scared of a self-tan, they use a very small amount of product and try to over-rub and tan a large area. Always use enough product so that it glides effortlessly and smoothly over the skin,” Sophie says. Your skin can only absorb a certain amount of tanning agent, so you can never use too much self-tan. The dreaded streak actually comes from not using enough!
DO ...use an applicator mitt. They are amazing for loading up self-tanner and buffing away excess product on large surfaces—use light, sweeping strokes all over.
We like: Vita Liberata Tanning Mitt ($7, available at Sephora.com)
DON'T ...have the final tan applied more than two days before the wedding—two days prior is perfect. “You can sleep with the self tan on for full development and then have the next day for the tan to settle and to retouch any areas if needed,” Sophie says.
DO ...apply baby oil if you need to fix a dark area. Leave it on for ten minutes to allow the exfoliation to be more effective. Scrub the dark part, then buff out the skin with a hot damp washcloth.
DON'T ...go in the sun before your big day and get burned. Continue protecting your skin!
We like: Moroccanoil Sun Lotion SPF 50 ($32, available at Moroccanoil.com)
DO ...use only your favorite moisturizer on the day of your wedding—no tanner! If your tan was done right, you shouldn’t need it. This will also ensure that there is no staining on your gown from last-minute tanning.
We like: Nest Fragrances Black Tulip Body Cream ($55, available at Nestfragrances.com)
DON'T ...be shy about adding more color on your wedding day, if you wish. Instead of self-tanner, use a tinted body lotion or cosmetic bronzer on parts of your skin that peep out of your dress for an even more polished perfection.
We like: Caudalie Divine Legs ($38, available at Sephora.com)