Spray tanning your face is no doubt intimidating. I mean, if you make one wrong move you can end up looking like a sketch comedy character committing to “the bit.” That’s why many people leave their face self-tanning to the professionals, if they’re even bold enough to do it all. But here at IPSY, we are true DIY masters! We believe there’s no beauty look you can’t nail on your own, and that includes self-tanning your face.
Self-tanning your face is not as wild of an idea as you might think. Nowadays, products like tanning water or tanning serum can make this process much less intimidating. To get the scoop on what type of self-tanner to choose for your skin type and how to go about self-tanning your face at home, we spoke to Jessica Lee, founder of nudeFX for the best tips and tricks.
If video guides are more your thing, check out this how-to guide on self-tanning your face from home:
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About the Experts:
Just like with any other product that goes on your face, you should begin choosing a self-tanner for your face by considering your skin type. “ For drier skin I would recommend a tanning lotion. For oily skin I would opt for a tanning water or serum,” explains Lee. If you’re ever unsure, Jullie Kortiko, founder of GloPro Tans, says, “a tanning formula designed specifically for your face should always be used to tan your face.” These come in the form of serums, mists, drops, and lotions.
“The most user-friendly in my opinion are tanning drops because they work with your own skin care products. Fitting facial tanning into your skin care routine can be difficult otherwise. I also prefer tanning drops because they do not contain any instant bronzer which can give an uneven, muddy appearance to the skin.”
Dihydroxyacetone is the FDA-approved ingredient that’s found in most self-tanning products. It works by sitting only on the top few layers of skin, so “as your skin sheds over time, it will take the self-tanner off with it,” says Lee. When choosing a self-tanner for the face it may also be helpful to consider how much self-tanning experience you have. “For less experienced tanners, I’d go with a clear tanning water as it requires less precision to achieve even and flawless coverage,” says Lee. “Additionally, many people also opt for a clear self-tanner on the face if they are acne prone or have sensitive skin since typically you have to leave the self-tanner on the face for 8+ hours before washing it off.”
When choosing the shade, Lee recommends only choosing a shade that’s two to three shades darker than your natural skin tone at most, to keep it looking natural. “Most self-tanners come in light, medium, dark and gradual shades,” she says. “Gradual tanners might be the best place to start for beginners as it's meant to be lighter initially, and can be layered for a deeper shade.”
Wash and exfoliate the face and pat dry. You can use a BHA or AHA cleanser for gentle exfoliation.
Not only will these types of tools help with an even application of the tanner (which makes for a more realistic tan!), they’ll also help you avoid orange palms for the next few days.
Make sure you blend up into your hairline, around the ears, and down the neck, says Lee.
Make sure to keep your skin dry and free from other products until you’re ready to wash off the self-tanner, says Lee.
Lee recommends reading the label instructions for when to wash off the product, as each one will be different.
“Typically, after eight hours, you will see your developed color, can wash your face, and return to your normal routine with a fresh and healthy glow,” says Lee.
“Lotion is the most important part of aftercare for any tan,” explains Lee. Keep your face moisturized often, and avoid using any exfoliants until you’re ready for the tan to fade. Your self-tanner will typically last five to seven days.
“I recommend tanning your face at night,” says Kortiko. “Tanning drops should always be mixed in with the thickest moisturizer in your routine, which is also usually the last product. I will say, most people see better tanning results with fewer products in their routine.”
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