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5 Faux Tanning Mistakes Not to Make Before Your Wedding

We know you want sun-kissed skin without the risk of sun exposure (duh)—but don't make these mistakes before your day.
The Knot
by The Knot
Updated Jan 15, 2019

Sun-kissed skin is lovely—but unfortunately, we all know that getting it the old-fashioned way is a serious health hazard.

But the good news is, achieving a totally natural-looking faux glow is easier than ever (without turning into Ross from Friends or staining your clothes)—as long as you don't make any of the following mistakes. 

1. Using a Self-Tanner Alone

Self-tanner is a great at-home option. It's budget-friendly (one bottle or tube will last you several applications) and convenient (slather it on in the privacy of your own home, whenever). Choose a tanner that's a little lighter than you want to turn out and reapply every couple of days.

But human error is your first obstacle here. To prevent streaks, blotches or missed spots, have your partner or a friend give you a once-over before you declare yourself done or even have them help you with hard-to-reach spots. Be sure to follow the instructions when it comes to how long you'll need to hang out in the buff before you get dressed too (you don't want any tanner to rub off on your clothes).

2. Starting Self-Tanner Too Late

This isn't something you'll want to put off until the days before your wedding (like a spray tan)—building your color gradually keeps you in control and prevents any surprises (although you really should have known what you were getting into when you picked up that bottle of extra-super-mega-bronzed formula). 

Start building your tan about two weeks before your wedding date so you have extra time to fine-tune your technique and find the right hue for you.

3. Forgetting to Prep Your Skin Correctly

If you don't exfoliate or moisturize correctly before you use self-tanner or get a spray tan, you're way more likely to end up with blotchy, embarrassing results. 

Here's what you need to do: Use a gentle body scrub in the shower first. Apply moisturizing lotion around the edges of your feet and between your toes, as well as on your elbows, knees and hands (or wear gloves to apply the tanner). It'll provide a little bit of a barrier and keep these areas from soaking up too much of the formula. If you're applying tanner to your face, the same principle applies: Carefully apply extra moisturizer in the corners of your nose, around your eyes and at your hairline.

Also, it's especially important to rub it into your cuticles and on your fingertips to keep your nail beds from changing color—you won't want orange fingers detracting from your wedding day ring photos. 

4. Not Testing Out Your Spray Tan Shade in Advance

Like we said, you can get your spray tan in the days leading up to your wedding—and we'd recommend going no more than five days out.

And spray tans are great, quick and easy—all you have to do is strip down, apply some lotion (just as described above for at-home tanning), step into a booth and voìla. One or two minutes later, you're done. If you choose a spray with bronzer, you should be glowing already. If you picked the regular spray, in 4 to 12 hours you'll look like you're just back from a beach getaway. 

But if you'd rather trust a pro (and you're not feeling shy), ask for an airbrush tan—you'll still strip down and a salon or spa technician will spray you with a fine mist of UV-free tanning solution. (The color is custom-calibrated, so the technician can fine-tune your hue and even contour your muscles to give you a more defined look. This is also the best method for concealing stretch marks, scars and cellulite.)

And just like how you should do a trial run for your hair and makeup, you should do one for your spray tan too to make sure you actually like the hue you've ended up with (rather than finding out the morning of your wedding that it's a little too dark for your skin tone). 

5. Running Errands After Your Spray Tan

Get the gym out of your way before your tan. Sweat will make the color rub off onto your clothes. Generally speaking, to get the most out of your tan and let it fully develop, you shouldn't shower or swim for at least 12 to 24 hours after your tanning session (if you can wait even longer, that's better still).

Also, don't get your brows done in close proximity to your spray tan. If you get your brows tinted, the active tint will interact with the tanning solution and create an unsightly (usually green) stain that's difficult to remove, so wait at least 24 hours post-brow tinting to get your spray tan. 

If you're getting your brows done after your spray tan, make sure to shape them prior to tanning to avoid a "zebra effect"—aka, patches of new bright skin that don't match your bronzed color. 

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