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A Perfect Glow Job: Tips from San Francisco’s Self-Tanning Queen

Looking for a pre-summer glow that’s affordable and safe for your skin, but comes without the day-glow orange ankles, dark elbows or uneven patches that all-too-often show up uninvited after at-home self-tanner sessions?

For tips on bronzing up the right way, we checked in with San Francisco self-tanning expert Sinead Norenius, a former national director of education for St. Tropez who now offers up her tanning know-how on her popular Self Tanning Queen blog. This month, Norenius launched Beautisol, her own line of self-tanning products, exfoliators and accessories to help the melanin-challenged among us go darker without sun damage.

We're often pressed for time. How long should be expect a full-body self-tan application to take?

As with anything, it takes a little bit of practice to get your timing down, but it’s not unusual to be able to do a full tan application in 10 to 15 minutes. It’s easier to start with the lower half of your body and start at your feet and move upwards. The reason is that if you start at the top and you bend down to do your lower half, you have a transfer of product and often people don’t notice it until the next day.

We've been victims of ring-around-the-ankle. How can we achieve a flawless, even application?

  • Anytime you start a new product, you want to do a test patch to make sure there’s no irritation to any ingredients.
  • Shave or wax about 24 hours in advance
  • Remove deodorant, perfume and any essential oils before the application process
  • Exfoliate. Removing dead skin cells will help avoid splotching on the knees, the backs of the heels and elbows.
  • Moisturize dry areas such as elbows and heels before applying tanner to help slow the absorption of self-tanner and prevent these areas from getting too dark.
  • Apply tanner using tight-fitting disposable gloves to prevent tanning your palms.
  • After applying tanner, take a dry wash cloth and buffing trouble spots such as elbows and heels to pick up some of the excess product before the tan develops.


When do you normally tan?

I love to tan at night. You put it on at night, then throw on your self-tanning PJs. It doesn’t mess with your daily routine or your clothing choices.

For those of us who plan to tan in the daytime, how can we prevent clothing mishaps after applying?

If your self-tanning product has a dark guide color in it, you’ll want to wear dark, loose-fitting clothing for four to eight, sometimes 10, hours. Also, I recommend using OxiClean. Throw a scoop in with your laundry or your sheets, and it’s a great way to get any kind of residue that might come off right off.

We'd like our tans to last as long as possible. How can we make that happen?

You want to avoid wearing any kind of tight, tight jeans, stockings or leggings after you apply the product because you want to allow the product enough air to develop.

I recommend gently exfoliating three to four days after the product has developed using exfoliating mitts. It helps the tan come off more evenly and fade more evenly. Then you can apply another layer. 

Keep the tan moisturized using a light moisturizer, and pat your skin dry [after a shower].

Also, in the pool or Jacuzzi, chlorine is a bleach, basically, so you don’t want to sit in the pool for two to three hours. That will lighten your tan.

You’ll find how-to videos and more tips from Norenius online at SelfTanningQueen.com.