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How To Prep Your Skin For A Glowing Tan

Posted by Ellie Swain on Jul 27th 2021

How To Prep Your Skin For A Glowing Tan

It’s peak summertime which means it’s the perfect time of year for strappy sundresses, short-sleeved tops, and lounging out on the beach in your favorite bathing suit. While you may not have the time to stretch out in the sun for hours to develop a natural glowing tan, thankfully, faking it is easier than ever. Plus, spending too much time tanning in the sun doesn’t do our skin any favors in the long run (hello, premature aging!)

No longer do we have to deal with bright orange tanning formulas. Nowadays, fake tanning products not only deliver us the golden glow we desire, but they’re super simple to apply. Depending on what you’re after, there are formulas catering to many tastes too, and you can buy self-tanners featuring anti-aging or other skincare benefits.

How you prep your skin before and after your sunless glow is just as important as which product you use, though. Please keep reading for our essential prepping steps for a natural-looking and long-lasting tan.

Remove All Makeup, Deodorant, and Perfume

No matter where you are or what time of day it is, you must remove all makeup, deodorants, perfumes, and other products before applying a fake tan. To prevent splotchiness, your best bet is to rinse off in the shower using cool water.

A refreshing shower helps to wash off any lingering films, oils, or lotions. It also shrinks pores so the self-tan doesn’t absorb into them, leading to an uneven finish.


One of the most important steps in this list is to exfoliate your body during the prepping process. Without a smooth and even surface, color can’t develop properly, and it may be obvious that you’re wearing fake tan.

It doesn’t have to be a big job either and can take a few minutes, depending on the exfoliating products you use. Don’t forget to shave either – it’s another excellent way to remove dead skin cells and prep the skin.

If you’re on the market for an exfoliator, why not go all out and invest in Tuel’s Body Polish Exfoliation Kit? The low-foaming green clean is created with essential pine oil, bladderwrack, and a hint of glycolic. This dreamy blend conditions and cleanses the skin of toxins while delivering a gentle exfoliation when applied with the gloves that come as part of the kit.

As you scrub your skin, dead skin cells buff away and dissolve. As well as prepping the skin for a self-tan, this exfoliation prevents ingrown hair and bumps, leaving your skin soft and smooth.


Your skin should be clean, dry, and residue-free before applying fake tan. But, areas like knees and elbows are usually naturally dry and could encourage the color to settle into lines.

Give those dry spots some extra TLC by massaging a small amount of moisturizer into the skin.

EltaMD’s Moisture Rich Body Crème is ideal for infusing dry and flaky skin with essential nutrients and long-lasting moisture. Slather it onto your dry areas before applying your fake tan, and you’re sure to avoid those pesky fake tan lines we all try to avoid.


Immediately before tanning, be sure to cleanse the skin for the smoothest base possible. An even and clean base allows the fake tan to settle and develop nicely.

Avoid any products that are too oily and choose something gentle that will soften and cleanse the skin.


We’ve already mentioned moisturizing before you apply self-tanner, but it’s just as important to moisturize afterward, too. Massaging a generous dollop of a high-quality body cream into your skin daily not only prevents it from getting dry and revealing tan streaks and creases more, but it also stimulates blood flow and lessens inflammation. This is all thanks to a strong blend of green tea, shea butter, shitake, and more.

If you’re heading out into the sun to show off your new glow, don’t forget the SPF, especially for your hands and face, where your tan will fade the quickest due to more frequent washing.


When you notice the top layer of the skin starting to dry out, this means your tan is beginning to break down. Unfortunately, this can mean your skin may end up looking patchy.

At this stage of the tanning process, exfoliation will quicken the cell regeneration and ensure the tan fades evenly and beautifully. A few days after tanning, scrub the knees and elbows to remove dead skin cells. When you’re ready to top up your tan, it’s time to exfoliate the body and restart the process.

Do you want more skincare advice? Learn about probiotic skincare here.