Everything you need to know about self-tanners

Before you tan

We need to do four things.
First, exfoliate the day before! If there are patches of dry and flaky skin, your tan won’t look smooth and even. I like to use a body scrub so your skin is left so smooth and perfectly primed for tan.

If you do shave, make sure to do so a minimum of 8 hours beforehand so your pores close up and the tan doesn’t accumulate in them, creating little tiny dots on your skin.

Make sure you are applying your tan to foundation, deoderant and body lotion-free skin. These create a layer on your skin that won’t let your tan absorb properly and prevent you from achieving a flawless tan.

Lastly, use a light moisturizer like a barrier on those areas where tan can accumulate. So, you want to apply the moisturizer to your nails, wrists, palms, knees, elbows, ankles, feet and toes and this will help these areas appearing darker than the rest of your body. And finally, stand on a dark-coloured towel to help protect your bathroom floor from the inevitable rogue drip.

Try: Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub, $18, available at Shoppers Drug Mart


First, choose an applicator. You can, of course, use your hands, but to ensure smooth, evenly applied colour, I recommend using a tan applicator mitt. Slip it on your hand, apply the product onto the spongey mitt and apply.

Next, choose a tanning product. There are so many amazing brands on the market now that create a realistic looking tan. Like the L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-tanning Mist. This delivers a smooth, streak-free, golden glow in just a few hours. What is really cool about this product is its 360o wide angle applicator so it mimics the experience you would have from a professional spray tan for a fraction of the cost.

Another option for fool-proof, streak-free coverage, is the water-to-foam formula from St. Tropez. It develops in 4-8 hours and you don’t need to rinse it off.

With any tanning product you choose you will want to start applying the tan at your ankles, working your way up your legs, then do your stomach and chest. Start your arms from the wrists and work your way up. When transitioning to your back, don’t forget your shoulders and neck, then waist and lower back. Finally, grab your back applicator (or a friend) and then get the centre of your back.

Try: St. Tropez Applicator Mitt, $9, available at Shoppers Drug Mart,, Murale, London Drugs,, Uniprix and Nordstrom  |  St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Mousse, $54, available at Shoppers Drug Mart,, Murale, London Drugs,, and other indepdent retailers  |  L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Properfect Tanning Spray, $17.99, available at Walmart

Hands & Face

After you have applied your self-tanner, you need to think about your matching your face to your new, bronze-goddess body.
Tip: mix it into your regular skin care regime. You can add 1-3 drops, depending on the level of tan you want to achieve, and mix into your nighttime moisturizer. I also use this product on the top of my hands and mix it into my hand lotion.

Try: Clarins Radiance Plus Golden Glow Booster, $32, available at Clairins

Instant Results

If you don’t want to commit to a longer term tan and just want to pop some colour on those legs for a night out, I recommend using an instant tanner. Instant tanners are also perfect for camouflaging tan lines. If you are heading out in a strapless dress, you can pop the instant tanner onto any rogue tan lines to give you a flawless appearance.

Try: Vita Liberata Body Blur Sunless Glow, $50, available at Sephora