How to self-tan like a pro

The only way to tan skin is from a bottle. And thanks to some clever chemistry, and insider tips and tricks, the latest gradual and tinted lotions deliver a seamless natural-looking bronze. Trudi Brewer says before you strip off, here's how to find the right formula to suit your skin.

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Gradual tanners
These are the easiest tanners to use, because they have the least amount of dihydroxyacetone or DHA. Perfect for those with dry skin, they moisturise and build up colour, day by day. You need about seven, 20 cent coin size blobs, to coat the entire body. Start at your feet and work up to your chest. Use one blob for each arm and leg and another three for the stomach, back, and finally the chest. Finish by using the excess to coat the tops of your feet and backs of the hands. However, always wash your hands after using gradual tanners as these can leave staining around the nails.



 MODEL CO Gradual Tan Everyday Body Moisturiser, $20. ST Tropez Gradual Tan Body Lotion, $40. Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster-Face, $50.

Instant colour
Fast drying and one of the best features of using tinted tanners, is that you can see where you have applied them. It's essential to use a tanning mitt to spread these over the skin evenly. Follow the same application plan as above, starting at the ankles, remember to sweep the mitt over the skin in long, upward strokes. To tan your back use the back of your hand, or attach the mitt to a wooden spoon and sweep it over those hard to reach spots.

Clarins Delicious Self Tanning Cream, $58. Palmers Natural Bronze Instant, $17. Tan Organic Certified Organic Self Tan, $46.

Top tips
What is Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)
Found in sugar beets and sugar cane, it is nontoxic and best known as DHA. Once applied it interacts with amino acids on the top layer of dead skin to produce pigment called melanoidins. This is the same type of chemical reaction that occurs when baking or cooking meat, it creates that browning or in this case the tanned effect on the skin. 
Always exfoliate
To prevent a patchy finish, and promote an even-looking tan always exfoliate every few days after a shower. This will remove the superficial layers of dead skin and keep your tan even-looking. We like to use an exfoliating tanning mitt or a facecloth, with a generous blob of the sugar-based scrub such as Pure Fiji Sugar Rub, which nourishes skin at the same time. 
Top up your colour
Self-tan only looks good for a few days, which is why you need to top up your tan with an extra layer. The best time to do this is an hour of so before you go to bed, and remember you cannot blend, blend and blend.
Moisturise everyday.
Once the skin is tanned, it needs moisture to maintain it's colour. Apply a body lotion or oil all over the body after showering everyday. The more hydrated the skin, the longer your tan lasts.

Share your favourite self-tan and best tip for applying it?