Get Rid of that Mid-Winter Pastiness with these Sunless Tanners

sunless tanners
In the dead of winter, your skin has already lost that golden glow from summer sun. Unless of course, you’ve ventured somewhere warm to escape Bomb Cyclones and whatnot. But for most of us, we are sitting here pale and pasty, missing the hint of color we had what seems like years ago. Well, it’s not impossible to get a bit of bronzed color back again by cheating the system. No, we don’t mean tanning beds (please don’t ever) and we don’t mean a last-minute trip to the islands (although we’d be down for that with a good SPF) — we mean, sunless tanners.

Sometimes these get a bad wrap. Folks can go a little too far, but who hasn’t been so desperate for the sun that they go overboard anyway they can? Well, not today, guys. Today we have some of our tanning questions answered by someone who know what she’s talking about: Sophie Evans, a St. Tropez skin finishing expert. We asked her some man-specific questions about self-tanning and how to do it without looking, well, like you’ve done it. We’ve also provided some of our favorite products for the entire process.

A personal pro tip: Don’t try to look like you’ve been laying on the beach for a week straight. The trick is to look like you have a little color. If you are have pretty pale skin and you go too dark, you will inevitably look like you took a page out of Lindsay Lohan’s book (no offense, Linds). Keep it light so it will look right.

What is the best way to prep dry skin before tanning?

The better the condition your skin, the better a tan will look and last. Exfoliate well and, if you have the time, start exfoliating a few days before. Prior to self-tan application, remove all products like deodorant and apply an oil-free body moisturizer to dry areas which can go extra dark … like elbows, knees, hands, feet, etc.

Philosophy The Microdelivery For Men Face and Body Scrub – $28

Cash & Co. Magnetic Moisturizer Oil-Free Body Lotion – $22.50

Image Source/Getty Images

What about the face?

Make sure you have lightly exfoliated. Stay away from applying retinol creams, but, depending what type of self-tan you use, you may wish to apply a light layer of a regular face moisturizer and eye cream. Allow a few minutes for products to settle into the skin before applying your face tan. If you have very fair, bleached, or grey hair I would highly recommend applying a light layer of moisturizer around the hair line to ensure a natural finish. If you have chosen to use a self-tan specifically for the face you may not have to use any facial creams prior, also depends what your skin type is.

Oars & Alps Face and Eye Cream – $22

How do I know which product and shade are right for me?

  • St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mist – $30Choose based off your lifestyle and skin type. Express development solutions (where you can shower in 1-3 hours) are great if you are a gym junkie.
  • Tan-Luxe Sleep Oil – $52If you have very dry skin you will love an oil self-tanner.
  • Hampton Sun Sunless Tanning Gel – $36Gels are great if you have a lot of body hair.
  • Vita Liberata Self Tanning Tinted Lotion – $30Lotions are good for dry skin and a long-lasting tan.
  • St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse – $31.50Mousses are great for most skin types and are very easy to apply but will not last quite as long as a lotion or oil.
  • Fake Bake Airbrush Instant Self-Tan Spray – $33Sprays are great for hard to reach areas and for the person who does not like rubbing at their skin.

How do I manage facial hair with sunless tanning?

It all depends on your hair thickness and color. If you have thick, dark facial hair, then you can tan all the way up to your hair line. If your facial hair is light in color (grey/blonde), then use a non-oil based moisturizer and apply all around the hair line. You can then apply self-tan and use the moisturizer around the hair line to blend and create a natural faded line. If you have stubble, simply apply the self-tan over the top.

Generic-Man-Putting-on-Lotion, best face moisturizers

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Lotion – $27.50

The easiest way to self-tan a face that has a lot of hair is by using a professional spray gun; you simply spray the face and remove any excess spray tan from the hair with a Q-tip. Again, if facial hair is very fair, moisturizer would be applied to protect [sic] from staining. Self-tan can only stain hair that is ultra fair, like bleached or grey/white hair. Brunette, black, and red hair cannot be colored/stained with self-tan.

St. Tropez Pro Light – $229

Will shaving after I tan remove my tan?

Shaving is a form of exfoliation and will remove a self-tan quicker, so most men find they have to reapply their tan more frequently. Believe it or not, when you get into self-tanning, we always advise to lightly exfoliate every few days so that your self-tan is always fading evenly. Then, when we apply more self-tan, we are tanning fresh skin and not allowing layers and layers of self-tan to build up on the skin.

Sisley Paris Self Tanning Hydrating Facial Skincare – $145

What are the areas men have the most trouble with?

Men tend to have drier hands than women. Dry skin on the hands and feet can go very dark, which is why it is always recommended to use moisturizer prior to application in these areas only to dilute and guarantee the self-tan comes out natural and not uber-tanned.

Also, most men do not wear nail varnish, and self-tan left on nails and cuticles will stain and color the nails a nasty yellow color. Self-tan stains on the nails will not wash out! You literally have to wait for it to grow out or buff the nails so heavily that your nails become thin and weak. So, simply wipe your nails and cuticles with a wet/cleansing wipe to remove the self-tan and prevent nasty yellow staining.

What gear would benefit men most?

A tan applicator mitt like the St. Tropez Applicator Mitt would benefit you the most because it will protect your hands from staining and make it easier, quicker, and more economical, as less product is being used. St Tropez self-tans pretty much dry in under a minute and are virtually transfer-proof, so no plastic sheet needed. And, if by accident you get self-tan on your clothes, it washes out with soap and water; just be careful with silk and cashmere.

St. Tropez Applicator Mitt – $5

What’s the best way to apply tanning product to hands, ears, and eyebrows?

After tanning your body, take off your mitt and make sure there are no streaks. Simply apply the tanner as you did on your body to your hands! To ensure there are no streaks, I would suggest using a mist formula that you can just spray on. If your eyebrows are dark, they won’t stain, but I always remove unwanted self-tan with a Q-tip — it just feels and looks better.

What’s the pro trick to get it off of palms/knuckles/fingernails?

mans knuckles and hand

If you need to fix a mistake fast — and its dark marks or streaks — the quickest way is to apply baby oil to the darker area and leave for 10 minutes. This allows the exfoliation to be more effective. Scrub the skin with an exfoliator, then buff the skin using a hot, damp washcloth. Hair removal cream is also very effective; apply with a Q-tip onto the darker area and leave for half the time as recommended, then remove. If you leave the hair removal cream for the full time, it can create lighter patches; we want to make the skin match … You can also use lemon juice mixed with baking soda; this will remove the tan entirely. Saturate the skin, then leave for about four minutes and remove with a cleansing wipe (exfoliating cleansing wipe is best).

Nair Men Hair Removal Cream – $14

Can I fake or enhance muscle definition?

Yes! A layer of self-tan will naturally make you look more toned and defined, but you can go one step further and contour using a darker self-tan than your all-over base coat to really etch out and define. The arms are very easy to contour for a super sculpted look. Spray or paint a dark self-tan, like the St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Lotion, under the tricep muscle. Etch out the tricep muscle line to define (you may have to flex to find it), then spray/paint around the bicep muscle on the top of the arm. It will look like a question mark without the dot.

St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Lotion – $33

Next, bring the darker self-tan down the top of the arm, as this is where the sun would naturally tan you darker. Don’t be scared if the contour lines look harsh at first. They can be easily blended and softened using the tan applicator mitt. Just make sure to blend and soften immediately, so you don’t allow the dark bronzing lotion to dry. Apply and soften lines as you go, making sure to keep the mitt flat to blend.

man with large arm muscles

How do I prevent or remove tanning product from stained collars and sweater necks?

It will wash out with soap and water. If you apply your self-tan and it has a guide color (built in bronzer/tan tracker) and you wish to wear a white shirt, and you know it may be tight or you are worried you may sweat, a great tip is to apply a light dusting of baby powder to set the self-tan. You could also use a professional fixer spray (makeup setting spray) to really ensure no transfer, but generally baby powder (talc) will do the job. Once your self-tan has developed and you have taken your first shower, this would remove all guide color (if any, as we make self-tans without guide color as well).

Pinaud Clubman Talc – $8.50


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