Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

I’m a Tanning Expert… This is How to Self-Tan for the First Time


Self-tanning can be a game-changer when it comes to achieving that sun-kissed glow without the harmful effects of UV rays. However, for those who are new to the world of self-tanning, it can be a bit overwhelming.

Renowned celebrity spray tanner and tanning expert Alexandra from Airbrush By Alexandra has some useful tips and tricks for when it comes to self-tanning for the first time – from gradual tanning drops to exfoliating right.

Preparing Your Skin

Before diving into the world of self-tanning, it’s crucial to prepare your skin properly. Alexandra recommends the following steps:

  • Shower, shave, and exfoliate: “Shower to remove any topical product from your skin that could cause a barrier during your tanning application, and shave and exfoliate for a smooth application. This is the key to maintaining a tan!”
  • Avoid harsh exfoliating and brightening products: While exfoliation is essential before tanning, avoid using harsh exfoliants and brightening products immediately before tanning, as they may strip your tan.
  • Use a gentle body wash: Opt for a gentle body wash to ensure your tan lasts longer and fades evenly.



Choosing the Right Products

Selecting the right self-tanning products is crucial for a successful tanning experience. Alexandra’s advice for beginners is to start with gradual self-tanning lotions:

  • Start with gradual self-tanning lotion: “For someone who is trying a self-tanner for the first time, less is more. I consistently suggest that beginners start their tanning journey with a gradual self-tanning lotion due to its ease of application, allowing them to achieve their desired tan progressively. Once they learn what formulations and techniques work best for them, then they can play around with darker shades.”

Match the shade to your skin tone: “When selecting your self-tanner, pick a shade that matches your natural skin tone. It’s essential to choose a self-tanner that aligns with your natural shade. If you have fair to light or medium skin, opt for light/medium and wear it for the longest amount of time possible. If you naturally have a darker complexion with more melanin, you can experiment with medium/dark and leave it on longer to achieve the desired tan depth.”

By following these recommendations, you can achieve a more natural-looking tan that complements your skin tone.

Applying self-tanner

The application process can make or break your self-tanning experience. Here are some tips for a flawless application:

  • Use a mitt or gloves: Protect your hands from staining by using a tanning mitt or disposable gloves.
  • Apply in sections: Divide your body into sections to ensure even coverage. Start with one section at a time, like your arms or legs, and blend the product in thoroughly before moving on.
  • Blend well: “Pay extra attention to blending at the joints, like your knees, elbows, and ankles, as these areas tend to absorb more product.”
  • Don’t forget your face: If you’re tanning your face, use a facial self-tanner specifically designed for this purpose and apply sparingly.


Maintaining the perfect tan

Once you’ve achieved your desired tan, it’s essential to maintain it. Alexandra shares her advice:

  • Follow pre/post care: Continue to shower, shave, and exfoliate regularly to maintain a smooth canvas for your tan.
  • Use a gradual self-tanner: “A few days after application, use a gradual self-tanner in replacement of your normal lotion to enhance/prolong your tan. Graduals are my favorite because they have a lower amount of DHA, so it’s just enough for a touch-up without overly building a tan on top of the other.”
  • Lifestyle matters: “If someone works out, does hot Pilates, saunas, etc., immediately rinse your body afterward so any sweat does not build up on your skin.”


Self-tanning can be a wonderful way to achieve a sun-kissed glow, even if you’re new to the game. Following expert advice, like that of Alexandra, can help you navigate the world of self-tanning with confidence and achieve stunning results while avoiding common pitfalls. So, go ahead and embrace the bronzed desires within you while keeping these tips in mind.

Photo by Nate Johnston on Unsplash