As we’ve learned, the sun is bad for our skin.

Yet I think everyone looks nice with a little glow, and I am a self-proclaimed spray tan queen. The good news? It’s not 2005 anymore. Formulas have vastly improved since the days of your orange fake bakes. There are tons of products that will give you a tan in just hours.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way for faking the perfect glow without ever stepping into the sun.

Prep is important

No matter what you choose to self-tan with (spray, lotion, oil, foam) or if you’re heading to a salon, your skin needs to be prepped and ready. Exfoliation is the key to most of your skin care life. Sloughing away dead skin clears a path for the tan to stick to smooth skin. The same goes for shaving. The biggest trick is to exfoliate and shave at least 24 hours before you self-tan. If you shave the day of, you run the risk of getting tan in your hair follicles, meaning little orange dots all over. The day before, exfoliate, shave and moisturize to keep skin soft. The day of your fake bake, take a cool shower to rinse off any moisturizers, dirt, etc.

Pick your tan

“Know thyself” is my beauty and skin care motto. You have to know what works best for you and what fits into your life. If you’re an at-home type, you can find tanning mousse, oils, lotions or sprays just about anywhere from Sephora to Target. Tanning mitts typically are used to administer mousses or foams, but I would pick one up anyway. Use these soft mitts to help even out splatter or streaks. As far as my preference, sprays work best for me (I do them at home with SalonBronze Airbrush Tanning that I pick up at Sally Beauty), but you also can go to a professional tanning place and save yourself time and possible cleanup.

Mind your face

The skin on our faces is a little different than the skin on our bodies. While some tanners might work great on your arms and legs, they might cause breakouts or irritation on your face. I recommend looking into a facial tanning product such as St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Vitamins Face Serum to give your face a nice glow without undoing all of your skin care’s hard work.

Find a buddy

This isn’t a necessary step, but it might be worth it to have someone help you with hard-to-reach spots if you’re DIY-ing it. I’ve been out one too many times with stripes across my back, and it’s not cute. Another tip: don’t forget to get ALL of you — including armpits — to avoid unevenness.

Wake up like this

The best time to apply a self-tan is before bed. This gives the product time to develop without any threat of streaking, running or getting rinsed off. Apply your tan and let it dry for at least 25 minutes before getting dressed. To avoid bronzed sheets, cover your whole body with pants, socks and long sleeves. Wake up looking like you’ve spent a weekend in Key West.

Fix your mistakes

There definitely are things that can go wrong with self-tanning. For streaks or patches, use an oil-based sugar scrub or a depilatory cream (be careful if you have sensitive skin) to even out areas where there’s too much pigment. You also can buy a tan eraser such as Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self-Tan Eraser to keep on hand for any mishaps.
An added tip: a body care routine with gentle exfoliation and moisturizing will extend the life of your tan. You worked hard for that glow, so keep it fresh.