Dermatology, Cosmetic Surgery, Mohs Micrographic Skin Cancer Surgery & Laser Surgery

How to Get a Great Sunless Tan

A woman's tan legs on a white backgroundPopular culture has labeled tan skin as desirable, and many women go to great lengths to achieve a sun-kissed glow. However, those who achieve bronze skin from indoor tanning beds and the sun’s natural rays are putting themselves at a high risk for developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The ultraviolet radiation from sunshine and tanning beds causes DNA damage to skin cells, which can lead to genetic defects that develop into cancerous tumors. Not only is tanning detrimental to your health, it also leads to significant signs of aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots.

Fortunately, a natural-looking tan can be achieved safely with sunless tanning products. Follow these simple tips to get a great sunless tan.

Choose the Right Product

When it comes to self-tanning products, all sunless tanners are not created equally.

Daily moisturizers, such as Jergens Natural Glow, are great for beginning self-tanners. Even if a moisturizer is not applied perfectly, any blotchiness or streaking will be subtle and even out more quickly than with more intense sunless tanning products. These moisturizers have less of the active tanning ingredient so that they gradually create a natural-looking tan, and they are great for taking the place of your daily moisturizer to hydrate your skin.A woman applying sunless tanning lotion with her hair up in a towel

Lotions and creams are fitting for people just starting a self-tanning regimen as well as for more experienced self-tanners. These formulas show a hint of shading when they are first applied so that you can see any uneven areas, and they easily blend into the skin without drying too quickly.

Mousses and gels are ideal for people who are more experienced with self-tanning products because these lightweight formulas dry faster than moisturizers and creams. Sunless tanning mousses and gels can be layered to create more intense tans and custom contouring.

Cleanse and Exfoliate

Before applying your sunless tanning product, be sure to prepare your skin by showering and thoroughly exfoliating your skin each time. This will remove dead skin cells so that healthy skin will absorb the tanning formula more evenly and last longer. Be sure you are completely dry before you begin applying your sunless tanning product.

Apply Evenly With Gloves

Use disposable, powder-free gloves when applying tanning products to avoid staining your hands, and the smooth surface of the gloves will help you apply the product more evenly. Be sure to spread the product over your skin evenly in a circular motion, using it sparingly around your ankles, knees, and elbows.

Buff Uneven Areas

If you notice areas that are blotchy or have too much color the next day, take a damp washcloth and buff the area to even out the color. For spots or streaks that are difficult to remove, create a paste from water and baking soda and use a washcloth to gently buff these areas with the paste.


Once you have achieved the faux glow you desire, be sure to apply lotion to moisturize your skin after every shower to help the tan last.

At Skin Physicians & Surgeons, we offer a variety of cosmeceuticals to protect and heal the skin from sun damage. These include face and body sunscreens like MelaShade™ Antioxidant Facial Sunscreen SPF 30, as well as the TNS Recovery Complex, the Skin Medica Lytera, and topical tretinoins to improve dyspigmentation, wrinkles, and skin firmness. Our medspa also provides chemical peels and microdermabrasion to reduce wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, and acne, and we have a variety of nonsurgical cosmetic procedures to improve signs of aging.

If you have signs of aging, whether from sun damage or the natural aging process, Skin Physicians & Surgeons in Upland, CA can help you achieve a more youthful appearance. Please call (909) 981-8929 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your consultation and discover the best treatment options for your individual needs.

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