First, take a shower or bath and exfoliate your skin. Pay special attention to your elbows, knees and any other rough spots. These areas will soak up the self tanning lotion and turn darker so you need to get rid of any dead skin.
Pat yourself dry and pin your hair up. Apply regular body or hand lotion to the dry spots you exfoliated. Allow yourself several minutes to completely dry.
You may choose to wear thin gloves to put on the self tanning lotion and avoid getting it on your hands, but applying it with your bare hands will probably result in a more even application. It’s your choice.
Start applying the lotion from the bottom – up, bracing your foot on a chair or stool. Rub in lightly, you can always go back later and apply a second time.
Don’t forget the areas that would tan naturally in the sun, the back of your legs, knees, arms, and neck. When applying to your face, remember to smooth it on your eyelids and into your hairline — avoiding your eyes and hair. For people with sensitive skin, there are self tanning lotions formulated specifically for your face and will result in a more natural look.
If you will be wearing your hair up, don’t forget to apply the self tanner on the back of your neck, and behind your ears to look more natural.
When you’re finished, wash your hands thoroughly if you chose not to wear gloves, so your palms don’t turn an unnatural color. Use a hand towel to dry them completely.
Before the lotion dries, it’s more likely to tan what you’re wearing too, so let yourself dry and put on some loose clothing. If you’re going to be sitting on a cloth chair or couch, sit on a towel to avoid staining.
For a deep, dark tan before a special occasion, apply self tanning lotion before bed, and again in the morning. Before you go out, check yourself in the mirror for any streaks and correct them with a damp paper towel. Apply bronzing powder to your face and shoulders for a finishing touch, and hit the town!