Thanks to the tanning mousse’s whipped texture, application should be a breeze for self-tanning newbies and veterans alike. “The mousse-y texture actually helps you have more control,” Graham explains. “That means that you can really manipulate where you want it and how dark you want it.” Spray tanner Anna Stankiewicz of Louise O’Connor Salon in New York City concurs. “I think mousses are the easiest to rub in,” she previously told Allure.
As an added bonus, the formula comes packed with skin-loving ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, a powerhouse of hydration. “Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that occurs naturally in the skin, [and] it helps to bind water to collagen, trapping it in the skin, so that skin can appear plumper, dewier, and more hydrated,” Tsippora Shainhouse, a board-certified dermatologist in Santa Monica, California, previously explained to Allure. Add the mousse’s reparative vitamin E and barrier-protecting glycerin to the mix and you’ve got yourself a tanner that does a hell of a lot more for the skin than darken it.
The kit’s provided application mitt, I should also mention, is lined with buttery velvet that’s smooth to the touch — so much so that when I opened it for the first time, I immediately rubbed it all over my face. For several minutes. It’s luxurious as hell.
As far as the application process itself goes, Graham’s got plenty of tips that she’s learned from professional spray tanners throughout her career. To prep her skin, Graham she always shaves and exfoliates in the shower before drying off and applying a lightweight body lotion (especially in commonly dry or hidden spots like elbows and the webbing between fingers and toes).
Then, it’s time to get to work with that mousse and mitt. “I start at the bottom and I work my way up. Some people [apply with] circular motions, but I’m a long-streak applier,” Graham says. Self-tanning expert (and fellow St. Tropez ambassador) Sophie Evans also recommends working your way from the bottom-up. “It’s always easier to start with the legs and work your way up, and finish by tanning your hands,” she previously told Allure. “The rest of the body is easy; apply liberally to the thighs and bottom, lower back, stomach, breast area, and décolletage, blending onto the neck or where you finished tanning the face.” Then, apply any excess to the feet. For the face, Graham uses a self-tanning mist so as not to miss any spots.
You can find more self-tanning tips here, but Graham’s biggest piece of advice (especially for self-tanning beginners) is simply not to be afraid of trial and error. “You just have to trust yourself and know that no matter what, everybody makes mistakes when trying something out for the first time,” she says. “But [a tan] isn’t going to make or break something. You really can’t go wrong. Just have fun.”
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