Getting a gorgeous glow for your wedding from the comfort of your home is within your grasp —it's the pre-wedding beauty treatment you can, and should, do yourself, if you want and you're an experienced self tanner. Longtime users of self-tanners know that it can be a learning process so make sure you have plenty of practice with your bottle and mitt before the big day and follow the steps below.
1. Know Your Product
The single most important part of tanning for the big day is to be familiar with the product you're using! Now is not the time to try some new, trendy tanner you heard about. I don't care how many reviews you've read from what influencers- don't do it. You need to take into account what works for your skin type (normal, dry, oily), your skin tone (are you really fair or olive-toned), and your desired look (do you want a light glow or to be super dark).
2. Skin Prep Matters
It matters so much we wrote a whole blog on it. You can read the full article here but for the TLDR crowd, I'll summarize. Give you skin a break from self tanner 1-2 weeks before the wedding to avoid building. The week of the wedding, you need to start exfoliating more heavily with a body scrub, strong loofah or dry brushing. You want the freshest skin cells possible to keep the tan even, long-lasting and to reduce the risk of color transfer. Before your apply tanner, shave, cleanse with a clear, gel body wash and wait at least 15 mins post-shower for your skin to cool.
3. Less Is NOT More
Sunless tanner can be intimidating, but don't be afraid to apply it liberally. The biggest application mistake you can make is not using enough product. The skin can only absorb 14-15% DHA (the tanning agent) so you really can't use too much. Surprisingly, streaks are usually caused by not using enough product. Use enough product so it glides effortlessly over your limbs—and plan to relax the next 8 hours, while you have a reason to avoid the gym, water, and any tight clothing.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
If you're not a weekly tanner, you still have plenty of opportunities to practice your tan. Use your engagement party, bridal shower and bachelorette as time to learn your product and practice your application. Do you need to apply layers to get as dark as you want? Does your skin take the tan better if you apply two coats back-to-back or if you wait a day in-between applications. This is also the time you want to become aware of any trouble areas like dry skin patches and work on your own skill around joint areas like knees and elbows.
5. Tanning Your Face
You're probably going to need to tan your face with a different product than you're using on your body. Facial tanners are available in a variety of forms and strengths. Right now, I'm loving tanning drops for the face because they work with your regular skincare routine and a wedding is not the time to switch things up on your skin! Keep in mind, your face will look most natural if its a few shades lighter than your body tanner. You will need to tan your face more frequently than your body from all the cleansing and skincare products, but again, tanning drops can be used daily which helps if you're indulging in extra pampering like facials.
6. Fake Tan + White Dress?! 😨
First, lets worry about instant bronzer since that transfers the easiest. Stop tanning 24+ hours before the wedding so you have time to rinse (do not scrub) any instant bronzer off. You want there to be 2 showers between your final tanning application and your wedding day. No matter how expensive the product or the company's claims about it not leaving marks, there's still a chance any fake tan will rub off on your wedding dress. All sunless tanners work by darkening the top layer of your skin, and skin cells are constantly shedding. Color transfer is most likely to happen in the areas of higher friction where your dress is tightest. You can lessen this risk by applying talcum powder to those areas (like armpits, bra line, etc.). If you're going to be upset if you get some tanner on your dress lining, you'll want to skip any kind of tanner.
Pro Tip: If you're into the high contrast look of tan skin and a white dress, checkout 14% DHA Ultra Bronze Tanning Mousse for the maximum amount of DHA (tanning agent) that your skin can absorb. I see the darkest results come from applying a heavy coat, rinsing (no soap) after it's developed, and then doing the second layer.