Style File: Bronzing 101

It’s a lesson we all could afford to brush up on, this time of year.

Beauty & Style Contributor Holly Stone reviews the basics, and reveal her new favorite self-tanning products of Summer 2013.

It’s time to emerge from the warm clothing from head to toe and start showing a little skin! If your skin has taken a toll from the winter months and resembles a lovely shade of pasty white, this information is for you.

Don’t turn to the sun for a shade of tan. The sun penetrates the skin to the cellular level and causes extreme damage in the form of rapid aging, dark spots and possibly even skin diseases. Today in the beauty world, you can get that beautiful sun-shade of bronze from a product that delivers all of the color and benefit with none of the damage. Bronzing season is here. And self-tanners are the best option for your transformation into summer-ready skin.


Just as a painter needs a fresh, clean canvas to begin their masterpiece, you too must create the same for your body canvas before you apply your self-tanners all over. The most important step to achieving a natural looking tan from a product is a rigorous exfoliation of the skin.

· Scrub The Body

Self-tanner works best on cleansed and exfoliated skin. In the shower, wash your body and then use an exfoliator. Work rigorously with large motion to remove dirt, debris and dead skin cells from the areas of your body you plan to self-tan. Pay particular attention to the décolleté, legs, feet and toes as these areas can have debris that would prevent an even tan.

Holly’s Product Pick:
Ulta Foaming Sugar Scrub
Ulta, $4.99

· Smooth The Face

If you choose to use a self-tanning lotion or gel all over your face, use an exfoliant before you apply. With firm pressure work in small, gentle, circular motions upwards and outwards towards the hairline Do not apply a moisturizer as this will create a barrier on the skin and could cause splotchy appearance.


· For light to medium or medium to dark skin select the same in a self-tanner. Going too dark will look very unnatural. Instead, build the depth of the color with frequent and consistent application.

· Wear latex gloves when applying lotions or gels. This allows you more time to cover each area evenly and eliminates any possibility of “tan palms and cuticles” and the need to scrub scrub scrub your hands after application.

· Spend some time. Take the time to apply a generous amount evenly all over your desired areas as well as the dry time to let the product work with the skin as it is absorbed.

· With the first application, go with the grain of hair. This allows a nice lay down of product in between the hair. Then work in large circular areas from back to front. It is easier to see the front so if you start at the back of your arm or leg and work forward, you have a better chance of even coverage.

· Rub in thoroughly. Uneven application or a missed glob of product creates a splotchy tan.


My criteria for reviewing bronzers:
· Quick dry down time
· Nice scent
· No orange tone
· Easiest application
· Smoothest coverage
· Longevity of tan

Instant Tan

If you are looking for a quick result with minimal effort this spray, once applied, develops color instantly. A definite plus if you are in a rush, you need only wait a moment for it to dry since it can stain clothing when wet. Fast-drying and easy to apply, spray on desired areas and rub in for even coverage.

Body Drench Quick Tan Medium/Dark Bronzing Spray

Sally’s Beauty Supply, $18

Gradual Tan

For a tan that builds to a golden brown, opt for a self-tanner that doubles as a moisturizer. Not only will your skin be tan, but also the moisturization will make your skin smooth as well as defer aging. Hydrated skin is ageless skin. Remember to wash your hands after application as this can still stain your palms.

Lorac SelfTANtalizer Body Bronzing Gradual Self-Tanner

Sephora, $12

Sun-Kissed Face

Studies have shown that in the US, a person with some color in their skin appears more healthy and youthful. Face bronzer is a quick pick-me-up that delivers instant results.

· Gel

The skin on your face is thinner and delicate thus your complexion has different needs than the rest of your body. Do not make the mistake of using a body tanner on your face. For a tan that doesn’t wash off at the end of the day, a face gel is a great option to keep your complexion looking healthy and warm. Apply once every three days for consistent color.

Sephora-Collection Tinted Self-Tanning Face Gel

Sephora, $16

· Powder

When you look up into the sunlight, the sun kisses you in specific areas-across the forehead, down the nose and across the cheeks and chin. When applied in these areas, bronzing powder will give you this same sun-loved look. If your skin is showing signs of aging, opt for a matte bronzer-no shimmer. Shimmer draws attention to any fine lines and wrinkles and can age the appearance of your skin.

Smashbox Bronze Lights

Ulta, $29

· Foundational Element

If you don’t want to add an extra step to your makeup application make bronzing a part of your foundation. This is a great way to add a tan to your face without spending additional time. Just remember to include your neck so you don’t have a tan face sitting on a pale post. Add a few drops to your foundation and blend before smoothing all over.

MAC Lustre Drops

Nordstrom, $21

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