This Is the Only Way to Tan This Summer

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Nothing screams summer like a tan. Lying in the sun to achieve that golden glow is so taboo, so what’s a girl to do? That’s where self-tanners come in. They temporarily darken skin without exposing skin to the sun.

Celebrity tanning expert Meredith Baraf, who tans the Victoria's Secret runway models, says that in order to get a natural-looking, uniform tan, it’s important to follow these tips.

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Don’t forget to exfoliate.
Any type of exfoliator, be it basic or fancy, will work. “It's a myth that you need to use fancy exfoliating products,” says Baraf. “My favorite way to exfoliate is with a washcloth. It's gentle enough to lift away dead skin cells without scraping the skin's surface, which can lead to small dots and lines if self-tanner settles into these tiny abrasions. Many exfoliating products contain ingredients that will strip your skin, and fillers that prevent self-tanners from going on evenly.”

Do a two-week prep.
Although it sounds like extreme planning in the sense of a tan, Baraf says that if you really want a deep tan, you need to start using a good self-tanner regularly for at least two weeks to saturate your skin with product. “The more saturated your skin is, the longer your faux glow will last.”

Hydrate your skin.
One of the best ways to preserve your tan is to keep your skin well-moisturized. “I’ve had celebrity clients spend hundreds of dollars on personalized tans, only to ruin them by not keeping their skin moisturized,” she says. “Moisturizing morning and night is essential, or you might as well not bother to use sunless-tanning products at all. The more hydrated your skin is, the less your tan will flake and fade, and it cuts down on the chances of having orange, streaky skin.”

Limit your exposure to water.
Baraf says it doesn’t really matter how your skin gets wet (sweat, salt and chlorine can wreck a good tan, too), but water accelerates the skin's natural exfoliation process, so the more water your tan is exposed to, the more likely it is to fade. “Make sure to pat skin dry when you get out of the water. Don't rub or air-dry because it can cause the tan to fade in uneven patches.”

Reach for an aerosol for hard-to-reach spots.
“It’s myth that tanning beginners shouldn't use aerosol self-tanning products—it's actually the best way to get mistake-proof results,” explains Baraf. “Aerosol formulations apply the tanner more evenly. Products such as Versa Spa Bronzing Mist ($45) have color in them, which acts like a guide.”

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