How to Get a Glowing Tan

Always wear sunscreen when tanning in the sun.
Always wear sunscreen when tanning in the sun. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Whether you tan outside or use a self-tanner, there are techniques you can implement to get a tan that is even and glowing. Glowing, tanned skin is often coveted by some. Sunbathing, self-tanning creams, tanning beds and spray tans are different methods many use to get a deep, dark tan. If tanning outside, it is very important to wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to protect you from harmful UV rays and to tan prior to 10 a.m., before the sun has reached its peak.

Things You'll Need

  • Exfoliating scrub
  • Sunscreen
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Water
  • Self-tanning lotion
  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Clean rags or wipes
  • Tanning goggles
  • Nose plug
  • Lotion
  • Shimmering tinted lotion
  • Irridescent powder
  • Bronzer

Outside Tanning

Use an exfoliating scrub to remove dry patches on the skin.

Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to your skin. The sunscreen needs to be applied at least 20 minutes before going outside. If you plan to swim, re-apply the sunscreen after swimming.

Put on a swimsuit or your clothing of choice to tan in.

Lay a towel down on the ground outside or on an outdoor lounge chair reclined all the way down.

Lay on your stomach on the towel for 15 minutes. Turn over and lay on your back for 15 minutes.

Repeat the process every two days until the desired color depth has been achieved. This two-day gap gives your skin time to produce melanin, which creates the "tan" look.

Self-Tanning Lotion

Use an exfoliating scrub to remove dry patches and dead skin cells. Put on rubber or latex gloves.

Squeeze a tablespoon of self-tanning lotion into the palm of your hand. Completely and evenly rub it into the skin on your right leg. Repeat for the left leg. Use your fingers to rub a little onto the tops of your feet.

Squeeze a tablespoon amount of self-tanning lotion into your palm again. Completely and evenly rub it into the skin on your glutes, abdomen and back. Rub the excess up to your chest and lightly under your arms.

Squeeze a tablespoon amount of self-tanner into your palm. Rub it into your arms, shoulders, upper chest and back, neck and lightly on the face, avoiding the eye area. Use your fingers to rub a little onto the backs of your hands.

Use a wipe or clean, damp cloth to wipe excess lotion off around the bottom of your ankles, the back of your knees, the inside of the elbows, the underside of your wrists, underside of your arms and underarms. You are basically removing it from everywhere that usually does not naturally get sun. Let dry two hours before putting on tight clothes.

Spray Tan

Use an exfoliating scrub to smooth the skin and remove dead skin cells.

Put on a swimsuit or your choice of tanning attire.

Put lotion between your fingers, toes, on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, and around your ankles and wrists — everywhere you don't want to tan. The lotion can be wiped off after the spray tan has been applied, easily removing the tanner from unwanted areas.

Stand with your arms and legs spread apart. If using a spray-tan booth, insert a nose plug and put on protective eyewear. These should be provided for you at the tanning salon.

Use a clean, dry cloth to rub off the lotion and blot any uneven areas. Allow the spray tan to dry for at least 20 minutes and then wear loose clothing. Wait at least 2 hours before putting on anything tight that could smudge the spray tan.

Tanning Bed

Use an exfoliating scrub to remove rough patches from the skin.

Put on a swimsuit or your choice of tanning attire.

Apply a sunscreen. Tanning beds emit ultraviolet rays like the sun, so it is just as important to wear a sunscreen in a tanning bed as it is outdoors.

Set the tanning bed timer according to the manufacturer's or tanning bed attendants instructions. Put on tanning goggles to protect your eyes and lay flat on your back in the bed. Gently lower the top.

Spread your arms and legs slightly away from your body to ensure an even tan. Tilt your head slightly back to expose your neck. Stay in the bed until the timer goes off. Repeat every other day until the desired tan has been achieved.

Create a "Glow"

Apply a shimmering, tinted moisturizer to the skin.

Dust iridescent powder on the shoulders, collarbone area, arms and legs.

Apply a shimmery bronzer to the apples of your cheeks and where the sun naturally hits your face.

Tips & Warnings

  • The sun's UV rays can be damaging, so always wear a sunscreen when tanning outdoors. A tanning bed also emits UV rays so a sunscreen is also necessary for this type of tanning. UV light is a major cause of skin cancer, such as melanoma, in which 65-90% of cases are caused by UV light or sunlight exposure, according to the Minnesota Poison Control website. Always avoid direct exposure to sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., apply SPF 15 or higher sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and re-apply sunscreen after swimming or perspiring.
  • When using a tanning bed, keep the first few sessions at 5 minutes to avoid burning and to judge your skin's reaction to the tanning bed. Never tan more than once per day or for longer than 20 minutes and always wearing protective goggles and sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher. If pregnant, consult your doctor before using a tanning bed.

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