Staying bronze all year long | my head-to-toe self-tanner routine for glowing skin

I’ve got my fair share of vices; I can’t resist shoestring licorice or a glass of red wine. But, my biggest vice of all is definitely the sun. It’s *basically* my therapy.

Being a stone’s throw from Manhattan and experiencing all four seasons are two major perks of where I live, but during the cooler months I really miss bikini weather–and the tan that comes along with it!

So, self-tanner is a necessity for me. I have no shame in admitting I love having a glowing, bronze complexion from head to toe all year long. Plus, self-tanner is *waaay* better for you than tanning beds are (plus, I take pride in saying I’ve never, ever stepped foot in one).

That being said, I’ve gotten pretty good at creating a flawless, long-lasting faux tan over the years. To show Haute Mess readers that artificial tans don’t have to be orange and unsightly, I decided to share my go-to self-tanner routine so that all of us can glow into winter and beyond.

Step 1–Cleanse: You should never, even apply self-tanner to dirty skin–that’s just asking for a breakout. Even if you don’t think your skin is *that* dirty, it is definitely in your best interest to remove any excess oil and grime before you bronze. In the case of self-tanner, it’s much better to be safe than sorry. Milky Jelly Cleanser, Glossier & Daily Cleansing Oil, Glossier

Step 2–Exfoliate: It’s no secret that self-tanner applies much more smoothly and evenly on freshly exfoliated skin. But, it can be too easy to skip this step because a full-body exfoliation is so time consuming.

Trust me, though–you’ll feel much more confident in your newly bronzed skin when you exfoliate beforehand; it is one of the best ways to avoid streaks and patchiness. I

love Cup ‘o Coffee from Lush because it’s safe for face *and* body (and it smells ahh-mazing). Cup ‘o Coffee, Lush Cosmetics

Step 3–Moisturize: Self-tanner’s pigmentation has a tendency to break up when exposed to oil-based moisturizer, so I make sure to moisturize my skin a few hours before going in with a self-tanner. Priming Moisturizer, Glossier & Daily Perfection Lotion, Glossier

Step 4–Tan: Like I just mentioned, it is super important to wait a little while in between moisturizing and the actually apply the self-tanner. So that your tan lasts as long as possible and looks flawless, you don’t want it mixing with any oils in your moisturizer.

Having a trustworthy mitt is also crucial; St. Tropez’s has never steered me wrong (and it’s only $6!). Applying bronze-hued foam to your skin may seem like a daunting task, so it is definitely important to take things slow.

Start with a quarter-sized dollop of St. Tropez’s Dark Bronzing Mousse. I love this formula because, not only is it ultra-lightweight, it has a greenish tinge to it, so it never appears orange on the skin. Instead, it leaves you with an olive glow (like one you’d get on vacation in Saint-Tropez).

Begin applying from the bottom up; from your ankles to your bum, making sure to cover yourself front to back (it helps to use a hand mirror in tandem with your wall mirror).

Once all the mousse is applied, run the mitt over the application site several times before going back for more product. This ensures that the tan is spread as evenly and streak-free as possible. Work your way up the upper body using the same technique until you reach the neck.

As it states on the packaging, it’s best to gently glide the mitt, with any remaining product on it, over the tops of the feet and hands for a seamless tan. Self-tanner, no matter how good the quality is, has a tendency to look blotchy on the hands and feet if not applied correctly (or if too much is applied).

Using your fingers, apply St. Tropez’s Bronzing Face Lotion; work from the center of the face in an upward and outward motion. Then, drag some product down the jawline and onto the neck.

Self Tan Dark Bronzing Mousse, St. TropezSelf Tan Classic Bronzing Face Lotion, St. TropezTan Applicator Mitt, St. Tropez

I don’t like to touch my tan–or expose it to water!–for at least 6 hours. This means no crossing my legs, no lying face down or on the side of my face and, of course, no sweating or showering.

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