15 Things To Know Before Getting A Tan

by Lindsey Rose Black
A smiling woman enjoys the beach, resting and sunbathing.
LukaTDB/E+/Getty Images

Spring break is around the corner and maybe you're pale and want a glow — I totally get it. However, if you're considering a tan, make sure you're aware of all the things to know before getting a tan of any kind. And don't forget, you're under no obligation to get a tan just because spring is around the corner. I challenge you to make this year you rock your paleness confidently instead (if you want)!

Head's up: The tips below are for meant for natural sunshine tanning, spray tans, and self-tanner products. In case you're still using tanning beds, I would really, really urge you to consider switching to another tanning method. As shared in Allure, "If you start indoor tanning before the age of 35, you can increase your risk of melanoma by up to 75 percent." Marie Claire also elaborated, adding that, "The radiation that comes out of the bulbs could be reaching a deep layer of skin that is extremely vulnerable to "cancer-causing changes caused by UV rays." Yikes.

I went to a tanning bed when I was fourteen and ended up having an allergic reaction to the rays on my thighs. I'm still left with a gnarly scar on my left leg from the rash, and that's been enough for me to convert to team self-tanner for life.

Whether playing in the sun or rubbing on lotions is your preferred way to get a glow, the tips below are essential to tanning success.

1. Exfoliate Consistently

Fuji Green Tea Body Scrub, $22, Amazon

To get an even tan of any kind, you've got to exfoliate your skin to remove the dead cells that could cause patchiness.

2. Keep Skin Hydrated

Coconut Body Butter, $22, A mazon

Exfoliating can remove dead skin cells, but dryness needs to be combatted with moisturizer. Pay special attention to elbows, knees, and heels (they tend to get dry easily!) and make sure you let the lotion sink in all the way before applying any self-tanner.

3. Shave Beforehand

Venus Embrace Cartridges, $15, Amazon

If you're off to get a spray tan or slather yourself in self-tanner, shaving beforehand will make the color go on smoother and last longer. Shaving after will strip away some of the color that you just paid sweet money for!

4. Take Off Your Deodorant

Wipe Your Face Off Make-Up Removing Facial Wipes, $13, Amazon

One of Allure's executive editors, Kristen Perotta, shared her essential pre-spray tan advice: "I use a wet wipe to take off my deodorant and lotion on my face. Those both will affect the tan — deodorant makes it turn green!" Who knew?

5. Use At Least SPF 30 When Tanning Outdoors

Super Fluid UV Defense, $38, Kiehl's

You are begging to create premature wrinkles and get burned instead of tan if you don't wear at least SPF 30 each time you step out into the sunshine.

6. Watch The Clock

The sun's rays are most dangerous between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., so aim for a sweet morning or early evening sesh on a beach chair.

7. Protect Your Lips

AcaiFusion Lip Balm, $10, Supergoop!

Just like the rest of your body, your lips can burn if they get too much sun! And let me tell you from experience, sunburned lips feel like chapped lips times a million. Luckily there are tons of amazing lip balms with SPF so you never have to run into an issue.

8. Protect Your Scalp

Sunscreen Care Oil Spray, $30, Amazon

Another place that's easy to forget needs protection is your scalp. Spritz your hair, scalp, and ears with an SPF spray to ensure your hairline doesn't get totally zapped in the sun.

9. Change Your Sheets

If you're getting a spray tan and have white sheets, you could wake up to discover some of your tan has accidentally rubbed off onto them. For the first few nights, swap your pearly white sheets for darker or old ones just in case some of the tan comes off.

10. Use Sprays For Hard-To-Reach Places

Self Tanning Body Mist, $31, Amazon

Unless a pal is helping you rub in a self-tanning mousse, spray will help ensure you're able to reach tricky places like the middle of your back.

11. Apply Self-Tanner, Bottom Up

Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse, $44, Amazon

Allure advised that, to achieve the most natural self-tanner look, use teaspoon-sized amounts of tanner at a time and blend from your feet upward until your whole body is coated.

12. Keep Your Face Minimal

Gradual Self Tanning Face Water, $37, Amazon

The last thing you want to do is coat your face in tanner to a point that it looks super unnatural. Apply small dots of tanner in places that would normally get the most sun (your nose, forehead, and cheeks) and then gently blend out in circles from those spots.

13. Wear Gloves

Latex Gloves, $10, Amazon

Orange palms are an obvious giveaway you've been self-tanning. To avoid the potential annoyance, wear latex gloves while applying tanner to the rest of your body.

14. Tone Down Dark Spots With Lemon

If you notice any extra dark patches post-spray tan, rub them down with a lemon slice. The acid will brighten it up to match the rest of your tan.

15. Protect Your Brows Against Spray

Vaseline, $15, Amazon

To avoid accidentally timing your eyebrows during a spray tan, add a swipe of Vaseline over each brow beforehand. The jelly will act as a shield so your brows don't turn bronzed orange!

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Images: Getty Images; Courtesy of Brands