Golden Girl

Yearning for a goddess-worthy glow without excessive exposure to the sun's harmful rays? Try these safe, easy-to-apply options

You can go for the gold at home or in a salon, but whichever method you choose, the first step is to exfoliate, says Cindy Barshop, self-tan maven and owner of Completely Bare Spas in New York and Palm Beach. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells that inhibit absorption to ensure a more even finish and a longer-lasting tan.

For DIY-ers:

After shaving, exfoliating and moisturizing, make sure your skin is completely dry. (Water is a barrier and can lead to uneven results.) “I like skin to air dry,” says Barshop, “since even a towel can leave it slightly damp.” She recommends that tanning newbies use a product with a blend of self-tanner and moisturizer, as it will allow you to build a tan gradually for a more authentic-looking result. “Apply one layer in the morning and another in the evening,” says Barshop. “That way, any streaks that result from the first application can be neutralized by the second.” It’s also imperative to use a formula that suits your skin tone: If you’re fair-skinned, use one designed for that type. Don’t think you can expedite the tanning process by using something for a darker complexion­—it will just look fake. And do consider a tanner that contains a little shimmer; the luminous particles mimic dewy skin while a matte finish is likelier to show imperfections. When applying the product to your face, use one specifically meant for that area. These are less concentrated so you’ll avoid that Oompa-Loompa hue, and there’s less chance of breakouts.

Clarins Liquid Bronze

Tanning Tips

When applying a self-tanner, wash and exfoliate hands aftr working on each section of your body (legs, arms, etc.). This prevents color from accumulating on your hands—a telltale sign you’ve been using a self-tanner! If you do overdo it, the only remedy is to start again, says Barshop. Exfoliate in the shower to remove the color. To prolong your tan, moisturize regularly and reapply the self-tanner once or twice a week, as needed. Exfoliate as little as possible, and limit shaving, which removes the top layer of skin that holds the pigment.

ModelCo Self Tanning Gloves

For salon-goers:

Getting a professional spray tan assures a streak-free result, but it does take a little longer to dry than the at-home varieties. (Barshop suggests a light dusting of talcum powder to get rid of the tacky feeling.) Don’t moisturize right before you go for your treatment, since this forms a barrier on your skin that’s hard for the spray to penetrate. It’s normal for the excess to come off on fabric, so be sure to wear dark, loose-fitting clothes to the appointment—don’t worry, the color will come out in the wash. Wait an absolute minimum of three to four hours before you shower (eight is generally recommended), but if possible do it the next morning. Barshop recommends doing a trial run or two in the months leading up to the wedding as results may vary slightly from person to person. (Be sure to have the same technician work on you for consistency.) Have the real treatment done about three days before the wedding.

Bliss A Tan for All Seasons