Fact: Practically everyone in Hollywood rocks a fake tan. But it's easy to gloss over or forget because their sun-kissed glows just look so damn natural. Us plebes on the other hand often veer into orange, streaky territory when we dare self-tan at home. What gives?
For answers, we looked to St. Tropez brand ambassador Sophie Evans to decode how stars manage to look as if they've just returned from summering in the South of France at all times by getting spray tans or even using at-home products—yes, they do that too!
1. They learn from the pros. "A professional application may be best if you have never used a self-tan before and you're nervous," explains Evans. "The pro can start you off and guide you in the right direction so that eventually, like a lot of celebs, you will be able to master the art of application and do it all yourself. This will save you *lots* of money in the long run."
2. They look after their skin correctly and follow a routine. "A full body self-tan is applied once every 10 to 14 days, ideally on clean, self-tan free skin," she explains.
Looking after skin properly = making sure it's moisturized and exfoliated. You should be doing the latter at least twice a week, with a body scrub, dry brushing, or a body peel that gently sloughs off dead skin.
3. They look after their face diligently. "Due to heavy cleansing and make up removal, your face will be one area that needs constant application," she says. "You'll need to apply self-tan to your face every 2 to 3 days." Evan recommends using a self-tanner specifically for the face, like St. Tropez's Luxe Face Oil, which can be used as a regular face moisturizer and has anti-aging benefits.
"The face area has a tendency to go a little darker as your PH balance is slightly higher, so most face self-tanners have been formulated slightly lighter," she explains.
As far as application goes, it's effective to work in sections, making sure every area is covered. Evans starts on the front of the face, then does the side profiles, and finishes things off on the neck area, sweeping over the shoulders and across the décolletage. "I normally self-tan my face before bedtime and wake up looking glowing, refreshed, and don't need as much makeup," she says.
St. Tropez Tanning Essentials Self Tan Luxe Facial Oil, $35; sephora.com.
4. They're extra careful with the big "giveaway" areas. These are typically the elbows, knees, hands, and feet because the skin on these areas tends to be more transparent. "On the hands and feet especially, self-tan can go up to seven times darker and have a very orange appearance, no matter how good the self-tan. So moisturize well prior, then use the excess self-tan that is left on your applicator mitt and fade down on these areas, making sure you blend in between the fingers and toes."
5. They apply all at-home products with a mitt to avoid streaks. If going the D.I.Y. route to create a new tan or conserve an existing one, a tan applicator mitt keeps hands clean and makes application a breeze."You will need a gradual tan to prolong and boost hydration to your self-tan," she explains, adding that St. Tropez In-Shower Gradual Tanner is especially convenient because you can use it in the shower on wet skin. You apply it all over, wait three minutes, and wash it off. "The great thing is you can go for a run and sweat to your hearts content without any fear of damaging your self-tan," she adds.
Another way to ensure you don't give your faux tan up? "Take a small amount of moisturizer and blend up the back of the heel and over any dry calluses and blend up the crease in the wrist once finished all tanning," she adds.
It's also important to clean the nails, cuticles, and palms to prevent unwanted staining. You can do this with a baby or cleansing wipe.
St. Tropez Tanning Essentials In Shower Gradual Tan, $25; sephora.com.
6. They use their fake tan to contour their body. Yes, body contouring is very much a thing and you can use self-tanner to fake music definition. "Do one layer of self-tanner all over, and then add another layer underneath your butt and down the sides of your thighs and stomach for a more sculpted look," advises Evans.
7. They know when it's time to reset the tan. This should happen every 10-14 days based on your lifestyle. "When it's time, a sauna visit can work wonders in lifting old self-tan," says Evans. But because not all of us are that fancy, you can get the same effect by having a long, hot soak in a bath with essential oils, like lemon grass which is high in astringents. "The oils should lift the self-tan off the skin and make your body scrub way more productive," she explains. "After, use an exfoliating mitt, glove, or face cloth to erase the self-tan from the skin."
And if you don't have a bath tub? "Apply baby oil all over the body, leave it on for 10 minutes, jump into a warm or hot shower, exfoliate away, and watch all traces of your beloved self-tan disappear."
Editors' Note: Always remember to seek solace in the fact that no matter how seasoned a celeb is in the art of self-tanner, accidents *do* happen: