Spring is here, which means it’s the perfect time to start working on your tan. However, that doesn’t mean that you should start laying out in the sun or on a tanning bed, and you definitely shouldn’t inject anything into your skin to tan.

The sun and tanning beds both generate UV rays, which lead to premature aging of your skin. They can also cause damage to your eyes and skin cancer. In fact, studies have shown that people who start using tanning beds before turning 35 have a 75-percent higher risk of melanoma.

What about injectable tanning drugs? These have been linked to heart, brain and kidney issues, along with skin cancer.

If you want to get a tan and stay safe while doing it, you have one option, and that’s self-tan products. They don’t cause skin cancer or any other diseases, as the biggest risk is an allergic reaction if you have sensitive skin. Here’s how you can get the best results with those self-tanner products:

1) Moisturize And Remove Hair In Advance:

The lower temperatures during the winter months, combined with the additional layers of clothing that you wear, dry your skin out. Before you apply a tanner, you’ll need to get your skin nice and moist, and you can’t do that in a day. Start moisturizing your skin about a week in advance of your tanning, and use a moisturizer low in alcohol. Shea butter is one excellent choice.

Waxing before you use self-tanner can cause patches and lines. Make sure you wax at least 48 hours in advance of your tanning.

2) Clean Up Before Tanning:

Shower and use an exfoliating scrub before you tan. Exfoliation is key before tanning, because you need to get rid of dead skin cells and dirt on your skin so it doesn’t get in the way of the tanner. When you apply the tanner, your skin must be free of any moisturizer, perfume, makeup and anything else you normally apply. If you’ve just showered, make sure to wait until you’re completely dry before applying the self-tanner.

3) Use a Tanning Mitt:

The key with self-tanner is getting the right amount on every area of your body, and you can’t do that with your hands if you’re using them the entire time to apply the tanner. You’ll likely end up with orange palms. Avoid this issue by using a tanning mitt. Put the tanner towards the bottom half of the tanning mitt, which will give you the best control as you use it.

4) Work in Smooth, Circular Motions:

Your first time applying self-tanner may be nerve wracking, but it’s actually not that hard when you know what you’re doing. You’ll want to apply about a teaspoon of tanner onto your tanning mitt. When you apply it to your body, use circular motions to rub it in. This helps you get an even application, so you end up with a beautiful glow on your whole body instead of a patchy look.

It’s best to start with your feet and ankles, and then gradually work your way up your body. The reason for doing this is so that you don’t mess up the tanner you’ve already applied to your body by bending over to do your legs. When you do your legs first, you’ll be able to stand up straight as you get your torso and arms.

5) Apply a Small Amount to Your Face:

There are two ways tanning your face can go wrong: either you use too little and don’t end up with much of a tan on your face, or you use too much and everyone can see your handiwork. Fortunately, both issues are easy enough to avoid.

You’ll want to use a small amount of self-tanner – typically about a dime-sized amount should be sufficient. Apply it to the areas where you’d normally get the most colour, including your forehead, cheeks, chin and the bridge of your nose. Keep in mind that the nose and the area between your nose and your lip are both usually drier than the rest of your face, so they can get color more easily. Be careful so you don’t over-tan those areas.

For your face, you can and should use your hands to apply the tanner, as you’ll need to be more precise than the tanning mitt would allow. After you apply the tanner, use your fingers to blend it out from each area throughout the rest of your face. Make sure to rinse your hands off as soon as you finish this to prevent those orange palms.

6) Let It Dry:

Play it safe by waiting longer than the self-tanner’s directions specify. If it says that you should give it 10 minutes, you should wait 20. You’ll need to make sure that you don’t shower, sweat or get moisture on your body for about 8 hours so the tan can fully dry. If you notice that there are any issues with your tan, remember that you can rub a lemon on the area for a minute or two and then buff it away with a damp towel.

If you did everything correctly, after you let your tan dry you should have a nice, bronze glow. Remember to keep using your moisturiser after you apply the self-tanner. Not only is this good for your skin, but it also ensures that your tan fades evenly throughout your body, so you don’t end up with one area that’s more tan than another. When your tan wears off, you can go through this same process again, and you’ll likely find that it’s easier the second time around.

Josephine Mayers