Q: Do at-home sunless tanning products work? What are the pros and cons?
A: Some over-the-counter products work, but it is difficult to reach your back without someone at home to assist you. It's also difficult to avoid the "white glove look" because you apply the lotion or product to your body and then wash your hands, as directed.
Spray products, especially those formulated by a technician, are easy to use in the comfort of your own home. For any at-home product, you should do a test spot in an area that isn't normally seen so that you can be sure you won't have an allergic reaction to the product and that it will give you the color you desire.
It also helps to purchase at at-home or over-the-counter product from a retailer that has a money-back return policy. If you have an unwanted reaction to the product, you want to be able to return it.
Also, make sure you know what you're buying. A bronzer, whether it's a powder, spray or lotion, is a temporary product. It will wash off during your next shower or could run if you get caught in the rain.
Q: What do I do after getting a spray tan?
A: You will need to wait a minimum of six hours before you can take a shower or sweat. When you get in the shower, rinse off. You will see color come off, which is only the bronzer. After you have rinsed off completely, you can wash off with just your hands and soap. After your shower, pat dry with the towel, do not rub dry, and moisturize twice a day.
Q: What are some tips to extend a sunless tan?
A: The duration of a spray tan depends on how you treat it. How often you shower, sweat and shave, your exposure to salt water and chlorine, and what soaps and lotions you use all can cause your spray tan to fade faster.
The key to any sunless tan is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Read the labels of your soaps and lotions and make sure that fragrance, perfume and alcohol are not high up in the list of ingredients as this will harm your spray tan. Moisturize at least twice a day.
Avoid the following because they will affect your spray tan:
Alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, salicylic acid, retin-A, alcohol, witch hazel, Band-Aids, pore cleansing strips, depilatory creams, hot tubs, chlorine, saltwater, bug spray, citrus fruits and shaving.
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In addition to the factors McMinn states above, another you may need consider is price. Sunless tanning booth sessions are about $20 each while a spray tan by a technician costs about $30. Technicians also often offer professional products that you can apply at home. Glow on the Go offers an at-home spray for $15. You can spray only the areas you would like to tan or your entire body or use it for touchups. Over-the-counter products range from $9 to $50 and take multiple applications. It's important to find the right option to meet your skin tone and type.
Whether it's a lotion or spray from the drugstore, a spray tan from a booth or technician, get your summer glow a safe and healthy way -- without the harmful rays from the sun. Don't forget that when you show off your sunless tan in the outdoors that you are protecting your skin and hair. Wear a hat and put on sunblock. A swimsuit cover-up helps block the rays when you're not in the water too. The skin is our largest organ and it needs care and protection.
Follow Jen Wood Cunningham on Twitter at @miss_sociable.