Whether you get a spray tan or give yourself a tint at home, a little touch of color goes a long way. Usually, tanners are used to give us a healthy, bronzed glow, but they can also be a way to hack a longer-lasting contour. If you’re gearing up for a spring vacation or just want to streamline your daily beauty routine, read on for expert advice about how to contour your face with sunless tanner.
1. Properly prep your complexion. Adding color to an uneven canvas will result in an irregular contour. “Having well-exfoliated skin that has no visible dry or peeling areas is the key to an even tan contour with no streaks,” says Jen Materia, tanning expert and founder of New York-based GLOW Custom Airbrush Tanning. The night before you plan to do your contouring, use a gentle exfoliator like Neutrogena Hydro Boost Exfoliating Cleanser ($8) to slough off rough patches and add extra hydration to your complexion. Don’t forget to moisturize in the days following to lock in that color.
2. Pick the right product. Hold tanner to the same standards you would your skincare products: It shouldn’t clog your pores and should work with your skin, not against it. “I recommend using a product like Eco Tan Face Tan Water ($35) on the face to contour because it’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores,” she says. “The anti-aging, anti-acne formula brightens and evens out the complexion, and it can even be used in place of foundation.” It also helps to find a formula that’s lightweight and fluid like a toner, according to Materia.
3. Choose one shade darker than your natural skin tone. If you want to strike the balance of a contoured look that appears natural, the key is using a hue that blends into your skin. “Less is usually more, so restrain yourself and try not to overdo it,” she tells us. Going too dark can result in a dirty, muddy look. You (and your cheekbones) are better off with a lighter color that can be layered.
4. Focus on one area at a time. Materia recommends building up your tan-tour instead of doing your whole face at once, so consider spacing out your treatments over a few days. It’s best to focus on chiseling out just one area of your face at a time so you’re able to see how each defined feature looks individually.
5. Use a cotton ball, not your fingers. No one wants discolored fingers and a streaky mess. To avoid this, Materia suggests putting a little self-tanner on a cotton ball and gently contouring the area you’ve selected with a light, sweeping motion for a smooth and even result.
6. Try a spray tan for an amped-up look. If you find that the at-home method gives you a too-subtle result, consider hitting up a spray tan pro for the same service. “We can contour the cheekbones with a smaller airbrush gun to add facial definition,” Materia says. “The solution also has skin-tightening and moisturizing properties that hydrate and firm up the skin.”
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