How To Stay Tan In The Winter

by Jessica Willingham
Originally Published: 

We know, we know: Tanning beds are the absolute worst. If you're anything like me, you're trying to find a safe way to stay bronze this winter, but it's tricky. Even normal to oily skin can turn dry and sensitive thanks to indoor heating and low humidity, which makes it difficult for bronzers and self-tanners to stay on. Luckily, I found out how to stay tan in winter with a few flawless tips.

You can always go for a spray tan, but if you're a DIY kind of gal, you're in luck. There are a ton of safe and high-powered products on the market you can use at home to keep your skin looking glowy. The best part? You don't have to spend a ton of money to achieve a perfect tan.

"I don't think the price of the product makes much difference – this is something that goes across the board, not just self-tanners but with all skincare products," said Val Monroe, Beauty Director at O, The Oprah Magazine, in an interview with the Huffington Post. "Because the large companies who have a lot of R&D, Research & Development, they're the companies you want to trust. So whether the product is $5.99 or $50.99, if they have a good R&D, you're still going to get the good results."

So, the good news is that the drugstore self-tanner you're eyeing could work just as well as a pricier alternative. Celeb makeup artist Mary Irwin tells Bustle, "Drugstores have a great range of brands, from St. Tropez, which tons of professional makeup artists use, to L’Oreal, which is another makeup artist secret — everyone uses it!"

So, staying tan in the winter is not only easy, but also easy on the wallet! However, there is some skin prep involved. Here's what you need to know.

1. Prep Your Skin

You can buy the best self-tanner out there, but if your skin isn't prepared the right way, you'll look like a splotchy orange mess. This video spends a lot of time talking about the pre-application phase — you'll want to shower, exfoliate well (Jaclyn Hill scrubs organic sugar all over her body) and slather body butter on the trickiest parts like your hands, feet, elbows and knees.

2. Shave

Gillette Venus Swirl Razor, $12, Amazon

If you're trying to tan your legs, be sure to shave first. If you skip this step, the self-tanner may adhere to your hair instead of your skin, causing a splotchy look. Plus, shaving is a natural exfoliant so be sure to shave around your ankles and knees. The Gillette Venus Swirl razor is a great option because it not only features five coated blades, it also pivots to contour to your body for an extra close shave.

3. Exfoliate

Sugar in the Raw Turbinado Sugar, $2, Amazon

The skin around your hands, feet, ankles, and elbows can be extra dry and flaky, especially in the winter. You'll want to exfoliate these areas and remove any dead skin so you can apply a seamless layer of self-tanner. If you don't, Irwin cautions that you run the risk of blotchy patches and uneven color.

Exfoliating can be as simple as grabbing a handful of sugar and scrubbing away. This Sugar In The Raw has bigger crystals that exfoliate like a dream. Plus, it's Non-GMO Project Verified and vegan.

4. Moisturize

Bliss Body Butter, $10, Amazon

Whether you're applying makeup or self-tanner, well hydrated skin always behaves better. This Lemon & Sage body butter from Bliss has the most refreshing scent, and is packed with nourishing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and algae extracts. It's also free of the nasty stuff like parabens, phthalates, SLS, SLES, and more.

5. Start Slow

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer, $10, Amazon

It's important to note, you shouldn't go HAM with the self-tanner (right away, anyway). "If you're just starting out, I would say that the gradual one is the best one to start with because it's the easiest to use," Monroe told the Huffington Post. "You can apply it like a moisturizer — you want to be careful because you are actually adding color to your skin, but you're going to see a very, very gradual difference in color, almost as if you've been a way for a weekend and you came back and you were slightly tan."

It's also best to use some hand protection, according to Irwin. "You want to use gloves so you don't turn your hands orange," explains Irwin.

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer was developed to subtly and gradually deepen your natural skin tone. You just apply it like you would a daily body lotion and wait a few minutes before getting dressed, and voilà — streak-free color.

6. Be Careful Applying On Face

L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Serum, $10, Amazon

When it comes to your face, it's important to take extra precautions. Always test your chosen product on your collarbone or neck before moving onto your face. Irwin also advises: "Always exfoliate with a physical scrub before, and make sure you don’t put oil on while you’re using tanner - it breaks the formula down and makes it patchy."

When applying, choose areas where you're naturally tan, like your forehead, the apples of your cheeks, the bridge of your nose, and your chin, according to Allure.

L'Oreal's Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Serum provides a natural, sun-kissed looking tan that lasts up to two weeks. And since it's a serum, it's easy to apply to skin and dries quickly.

Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.

This post was originally published on 12/13/2016. It was updated on 6/24/2019. Additional reporting by Kate Miller.

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