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When to apply a self-tanner?

Despite repeated warnings about the damage sun exposure can cause to the skin, some people can't resist the allure of a tan. Given this ongoing fascination, self-tanners seem to be the solution for those who want a sun-kissed glow while avoiding the health risks associated with sun exposure. However, the risk of appearing orange or having an unnaturally dark complexion can make some hesitate. Let's explore when and how often to use a self-tanner for the most natural-looking results.

Published April 7, 2022, updated on May 15, 2024, by Stéphanie, Doctorate in Life and Health Sciences — 3 min read

Self-Tanner: When Can We Apply It?

Achieving a natural-looking tan without sun exposure has become a goal for many people, and self-tanners are well-suited for this purpose. Enriched with self-tanning agents such as DHA or erythrulose, these skincare products restore color to the complexion and give the skin a tanned appearance by reacting with the skin's amino acids to form brown compounds that stain the skin, thereby reducing the risk of sun damage.

At what time of the day should you apply self-tanner?

It is suggested toincorporate the self-tanner preferably into your evening routinein order to allow the tan to develop throughout the night, considering that most tans require at least four to six hours. Doing it in the evening gives you more time and thus reduces the risk of missing spots, in addition to minimizing movements and the risks of rubbing. However, make sure not to apply any oily products beforehand.

It is not contraindicated to apply it during the day, but certain precautions should be taken, such as avoiding touching the skin. Indeed, this action could "displace" the self-tanner and thus hinder its development, in addition to giving an uneven and streaky appearance. Similarly, perspiration can "ruin" your tan.

How often should self-tanner be applied?

Everything lies in the type of self-tanner chosen, either the classic intense tan or the progressive one. If you have opted for a gradual effect self-tanner like a mist or a serum, you can use it every day to bring about a natural, subtle, and evolving color change over time. This increasingly favored approach depends on the number of self-tanner drops you have added to your moisturizer. The more you apply, the more the tan will intensify, but also the more you repeat the applications, the deeper the tan will become.

Progressive self-tanners can also be used to maintain one's existing tan by extending its duration.

On the other hand, if you are using a regular self-tanner, an application per week is sufficient. Indeed, the higher concentration of DHA (>5%) allows for the development of a more intense and darker tanning effect in the hours following application. As a reminder, the tan usually lasts between seven and ten days as the dead skin cells shed.

Whether it's to extend your tan after summer vacation, to achieve a healthy glow in winter, or simply to have a bronzed skin, self-tanner can be applied all year round, in every season.


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