Living in a tropical climate and fake tanning don’t really go hand-in-hand, because it is possible for you to acquire a summery glow all year round. Just head to your nearest pool with some sun oil in tow, and roast away. Or so the theory goes.

The problem a real tan is the time it takes — a luxury most of us cannot afford outside of a holiday. You do have the option of lying in a booth and getting blasted with UV light from time to time, but if you cannot maintain that level of commitment with your nearby faux sun salon, then a self-tan is the way to go.

best self-tan tips
We don’t all have time to sit by the pool over the weekends.

Self-tanning is a quick solution for bronzed skin that you can get done at home. Purchase a self-tanning product, and half an hour later, you can look like you just arrived fresh from a weekend in the Maldives. These tinted creams and mousses also give those who can only burn, not tan, a chance to overcome their unfortunate plight and live their best beach babe fantasies. It’s a win-win.

The only thing that puts people off self-tanning is how often the pitfalls seem to occur. From a streaky, uneven result to looking like Ross Geller after his virgin spray tan, these hazards can daunt someone who has never tried to self-tan before.

best self-tan tips
A recent example of being too tanned. (Photo: Dia Dipasupil, WireImage)

We’re happy enough to profess that DIY tanning is a lot easier to get right than the sitcoms suggest. To help you on your quest for a flawless J.Lo shine, read on to find out our top self-tanning tips. Follow them to a T and you’ll never risk looking like an oompa loompa.

1. Always exfoliate 24 hours before

Dead skin cells equate to a bad tan, because the surface of your skin is microscopically uneven. You want to have your tanning product cling on to a smooth, seamless surface area to ensure a uniform coat of colour, so exfoliation is paramount.

Use a body polish during your shower, and scrub your body in circular motions to get rid of any texture or dryness. Focus on your elbows and knees, as these are the areas that tend to be drier than most.

2. Use a mitt

This is such an obvious point, but it must be said. Always use a tanning mitt to apply the product. This keeps your hands and nails free of stains, and also delivers a much more even tan to your body without overdosing on the product.

Always apply your tan in circular motions, as if you are buffing it onto your skin, because this helps the product absorb much better.

3. Don’t skip the hands and feet

Even if you lie to yourself that long-sleeved shirts and covered shoes will be your religion for the next two weeks, never avoid the hands and feet when applying your self-tan.

Sure, they are difficult areas to deal with, but there are ways around it. Always tan those areas last to ensure you don’t get any streaks there, or use a tanning mist, if possible. Mists deliver an even coating that dries fast, avoiding the issue of your tan rubbing or fading off immediately after application when you walk or wash your hands and feet.

best self-tan tips
What well-tanned feet look like.

4. Tan your face too

You could always wear a foundation that is a tad darker than your normal shade right after you get your tan on, but on bare-faced days, you’re left with an awkward contrast.

Tanning your face is serious business, though, as clothes cannot hide your visage. Go gentle on tanning your face by sheering out any product with a tiny bit of water-based moisturiser and apply that on. Be sure to clean your eyebrows and hairline with tissue or wet wipe to avoid any telltale stains.

5. Skip deodorants, perfumes, and moisturisers on the day you plan to tan

You want nothing in between your skin and the self-tanner until the product settles and you get to your desired shade of golden. We can’t stress this enough.

Why should you shirk personal care on tan day? Because deodorant will compromise your tan and leave you with pale pits. The water and ethanol in perfume will cause your tan to fade where you’ve spritzed, leaving odd spots behind. Moisturisers with an oil-based formula will erase your tan and leave you streaks to show for all your efforts. It is worth setting these three things aside for the first 24 hours.

best self-tan tips
Fenty Beauty’s Body Lava is a great shimmer to invest in.

6. Finish the tan off with a body highlighter

Body highlighters are so unnecessary, but they take your new tan that much farther. A luminous moisturiser (water-based, please), body glitter or shimmer is such a fantastic way to add more dimension to your newly bronzed look on special occasions, or the next time you are at the beach.

Slather some on, and you will be positively iridescent when the light hits your body. You’ll feel like a walking diamond.

Beatrice Bowers
Features Editor
Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.