The Best Way To Prep Your Skin For Self-Tanner

woman getting ready to prep for self tanner
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We love a beachy bronze glow as much as anyone else, but sun damage? No thanks! We prefer to get our glow from self-tanner or bronzer. For the best results from either, it’s essential to exfoliate first. Keep reading to find out why and learn the best ways to exfoliate before you self-tan.

How does self-tanner work?

When you get a tan from the sun, what you’re actually doing is damaging your skin (yikes). If you’re not wearing sunscreen and your skin is exposed to UV rays, it responds by sending pigmented cells called melanocytes to your skin’s surface. Those pigmented cells are intended to provide protection, but the problem is, that protection isn’t very effective. You may have heard that a “base tan” will protect you, but that’s not true. According to doctors at Harvard University Medical School, a base tan provides only about an SPF 3-4.

Self-tanner, on the other hand, gives you vacay-ready glow damaging your skin, thanks to an ingredient called DHA (short for dihydroxyacetone). When you apply self-tanner, the DHA works with amino acids that are naturally present in your skin, causing the top layer of your skin to darken, just like it would if you spent time in the sun. Clearly, it’s the better and safer option, and you can do it year-round. (Let’s face it, sometimes we just need a glow-up in the middle of winter!)

How to prep for self-tanner

Here's the thing about self-tanner…it *loves* to cling to any dry, flaky patches on your skin. So before you self-tan, it’s essential to exfoliate dead skin cells and get your skin’s surface as smooth as possible. As far as exactly how to exfoliate before self-tanner, you have several options. You can use a face scrub, a chemical exfoliant or even just use a washcloth to gently buff skin. However, we’ve found we get the best results with a more high-tech solution.

Sonic Dermaplaning is not only an easy, effective and gentle way to exfoliate before self-tanning, it also removes peach fuzz that can stand in the way of product penetration. When you use the LUXE+ sonic dermaplaning wand to exfoliate, the Microfine Edge glides over your skin’s surface, gently removing dead skin cells, build-up and vellus hair (a.k.a. peach fuzz). This smooths the way for your self-tanner to go on flawlessly (and, bonus, leaves your face without that “halo” of peach fuzz!).

As far as timing, don’t plan on doing your sonic dermaplaning and self-tanning at the exact same time. It’s best to wait 24 hours between your exfoliating treatment and your self-tanning session in order to get the best results. If you’re like us and you do your Sonic Dermaplaning treatment on self-care Sunday, then Monday is the perfect day to apply your self-tanner.

Maintain your glow

After you’ve applied your tanner and gotten the damage-free glow you want, of course your goal is to keep it looking fresh for as long as possible. The key to helping your self-tanner last longer is to keep your skin hydrated—and our favorite way to do that is by layering serums and moisturizers. Start with a deeply hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid, like our Active Cocooning Serum, and top it off with your favorite occlusive moisturizer.

And just in case you didn’t know, an occlusive moisturizer is simply one that forms a barrier over your skin to help keep moisture in. You’ve probably heard of the skincare “slugging” and all that means is that you’re using an occlusive product to trap moisture against the skin. Some people like to use Vaseline, but moisturizers with Shea Butter or Squalane will also work, without leaving your face looking like an oil slick.

Another option: Bronzer!

You know the prep steps for how to apply self-tanner to your face and how to make it last. Now, let us give you another option if you’re looking for something more temporary. Powder, cream or liquid bronzers are great alternatives for getting a sun-kissed glow if you’re pressed for time or simply don’t want to commit to self-tanner. Sonic dermaplaning is also the ideal preparation method before applying bronzer, or foundation for that matter! It will sweep away flaky patches and remove any peach fuzz that makeup might cling to.

That’s it! Now you’ve learned how to prep for whatever bronze look you want, so grab your LUXE+ and get glowing.