"Healthy tan" isn't an oxymoron anymore -- self-tanners are more natural than ever and good to your skin.
If you've been on the fence about going faux, now may be your chance to give it a whirl. The active ingredient in self-tanners, dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, has always been natural (derived from sugarcane, it tints the skin's surface when it reacts with the dead cells). But now companies are replacing synthetic ingredients in self-tanners with botanicals and antioxidants. Get a perfect sun-free hue in three steps:
1. Get Prepped
Smooth skin is less likely to streak, says Laura Hittleman, corporate beauty director at Canyon Ranch spa in Tuscon, Arizona. Gently rub an exfoliator all over your body to remove just the top layer.
2. Coat Evenly
With a flat hand, stroke on long, thin layers. At first, skip the spots where skin is thicker -- knees, ankles, elbows, and feet (tanner clings to them and makes them look dirty). Then mix a drop of tanner with your usual body moisturizer to thin it out and apply it to those rougher regions.
3. Clean Up
It can take hours for your color to show, but washing up pronto will prevent your palms from turning brown. To remove all traces, make a paste of equal parts sugar and lemon juice and scrub your hands -- or any spots you want to smooth out.
1. Alba Botanica Very Emollient Bronzing Lotion has just a touch of tanner, making it goof-proof.
2. Jane Iredale Tantasia is tinted, for easy application.
3. Clarins Instant Smooth Self Tanning evens out complexion with micropearls that plump up skin and fill in lines.
Text by Lisa Cohen Lee