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Fall has now arrived, and that means that our natural tans are about to start fading. Luckily, there’s a product out there to solve our problem: self tanner! Self tanner is a safe and easy way to keep your tan all year long, as long as you know the proper method for using it.

Don’t dive in deep right away.

If you’re just getting in to self tanning, you may not want to go into a full-blown routine right away. Most people find that a self tanner mousse works best when starting out, because it’s so easy to use. A mousse is less likely to get streaky, and will give you bronzed natural results.

Completely exfoliate your body before using self tanner.

This is basically the golden rule of self tanning: it could be disastrous if you try to use self tanner without exfoliating first. Self tanner will cling to ANY dry patches you have, even if you think that you don’t have dry skin at all. Going with a body scrub is the best option, like this one here. You can use it while in the shower, and it will do an AMAZING job at exfoliating your skin before you use your self tanner.

You want to make sure to exfoliate your entire body — from head to toe. This will also keep your self tanner from fading unevenly.

Kristyn Pradas, who is the tanning expert that spray tans all of the Angels for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, recommends you shave with a new razor and exfoliate the day before using self tanner, or the day of.

It’s great to keep a set of disposable razors on hand to have specifically for when you’re going to self-tan. That way, you’ll know that you are using a new, fresh blade every time.

You can find a set of 4 disposable razors for a very affordable price here.

Take care of your body FIRST, then self tan.

It’s important to take care of your entire beauty routine before doing self tanner. Waxes, manicures, shaving, showers, and exfoliation should all be done BEFORE using a self tanner. These are all things that could mess up your tan, and you don’t want that happening!

Moisturize your skin before self tanning.

You should always moisturize your skin with some sort of lotion before self tanning, like this one here.

Using a lotion will ensure that you get the proper coverage you need from your self tanner, and it will also help prevent it from being streaky. (Don’t forget your hairline, too! This will help it from getting into your hair.)

It’s especially important to hydrate your wrists, fingertips, heels, elbows, and knees. These areas tend to get very dry, and a lotion or oil will help keep them smooth so that self tanner doesn’t cling to them.

Protect the bottoms of your feet from slipping.

A good tip to make sure you don’t slip on the floor from your self tanner is to put tape on the bottom of your feet.

When self tanning, make sure your skin is 100% dry.

This probably sounds obvious, but make sure your skin is dry before using self tanner. Any water on your body will mess up your tan!

Use a mitt for your hands.

Using a mitt to self tan is a game changer. First of all, everyone will know that you have a “fake tan” if the palms of your hands are tan — or orange, like they tend to end up when self tanning. Using a mitt also makes the entire process much less of a mess.

Learn how to contour while self tanning.

You can actually contour your skin using self tanner so that you’ll have a natural looking contour, even when you don’t have makeup on! Check out how to contour with self tanner here, from Cosmo.

Choose the right self tanner for YOU.

There are tons out there — try to find the best one for you! Check out ingredients to see if you’re allergic or sensitive to any of them, and choose one that you’re going to love, whether that be a mousse, lotion, or spray.

Be careful when self tanning your face.

You really want to be picky when choosing a self tanner for your face. Try to find one that has a moisturizer built in. You want your face to look bronzed and natural — not orange and streaky!

Find an easy way to self tan your hard-to-reach areas.

This could mean using a brush or having someone else help you.

Start by self tanning the bottom of your body, and work your way up.

It’s important to start applying the self tanner to your ankles, and work your way up to the rest of your body. This will prevent any weird streaks that may pop up from bending over after you’ve already applied self tanner!

STILL APPLY SPF!

Yes, you’re bronzed and tan… but don’t forget that it’s a fake tan. Your skin is still going to be sun-sensitive, so make sure you are still wearing sunscreen when you go outside!

Use a sponge to blend out self tanner on your hands.

This will keep your hands from looking splotchy or streaky.