There are many things that can affect a sunless tan. Some of them super-easy to correct, while others will take a little detective work.
This is probably the most common complaint of people with sunless-tans-gone-wrong. There are several reasons why a sunless tan can look orange.
- The sunless tanner (ST) used had too much DHA in it. If you remember, back in the Choosing a Sunless Tanning Product post, I told you how DHA is the active ingredient that tans your skin. If there is a lot of it in the ST, it can make your skin look orange. This usually (not always) happens to very fair-skinned people. Solution? Try using a product with less DHA.
- The ST had too little DHA in it. I know, I know - I just said too much DHA caused it. But in some pale people (like me), using low DHA products can leave a translucent orangish color on the skin. Solution? Try using a product with more DHA.
- You used bar soap or moisturizing shower gel before tanning. These types of products leave a residue on the skin, and that residue can prevent the ST from developing or can make the color "off". Solution? Use a non-moisturizing shower gel just prior to tanning.
- Certain lotions can interfere with ST development. I don't know why, but some lotions must have a chemical reaction with the ST, causing the skin to turn yellow or orange. Curel is one of these lotions. Solution? Change your lotion to see if that helps. I've used Jergens, Bath & Body Works, Ulta, Hempz , and several others without any issues.
- It's that time of the month. Yes, just one more annoying thing to lay at the feet of Mother Nature. Something about body chemistry. For some it's a problem the week "before", while for others, it's "during". Solution? Try to avoid tanning during that time. Use a bronzer instead.
- You have too many "layers" of ST on your skin. Perhaps you haven't exfoliated well enough and there are several layers of ST on your skin. After awhile, they can start to look orange. If you reach this point, you'll probably need to remove most of your tan and start over.
- It's also possible that you don't really look orange. Sometimes, different types of lighting can make anyone's skin look funky. Overcast days tend to make all tans look a bit orangey.
My skin looks like a lizard! It's all splotchy and I look like I have scales!
I think at some point, this has happened to everyone who has tried a ST. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to avoid once you know the cause:
- You didn't exfoliate well enough. The "scales" you see are untanned skin next to tanned skin, where the top layer as flaked off. Solution? If you exfoliate well before tanning, your skin is going to have a layer of "fresh" cells on the surface, and these will tan. Then you need follow my maintenance tips to keep it looking good.
- You didn't reapply soon enough. Solution? The trick is to learn how may days your skin will stay tanned before it starts to look splotchy. Once you know this, you'll need to lightly exfoliate and reapply the day prior to this. So if you know you start to look funky on Day 4, you'll need to lightly exfoliate and reapply on Day 3.
- You used a product that is drying. Solution? As I mentioned in "Choosing a Sunless Product", some types of ST are more drying than others. These tend to cause lizard skin more quickly and more often than other products. Use a different type of product.
- You didn't moisturize enough. Solution? Using a good moisturizing lotion goes a long way in maintaining your tan and preventing lizard skin. Moisturize once or twice daily. I like Hempz original.
- You lead a lifestyle that is hard on your sunless tan. If you spend a lot of time in a chlorinated pool or hot tub, you'll probably notice your tan gets funky quickly. Other things that can cause lizard skin: clothes that fit tightly and rub against skin, saunas, showering more than once daily, shaving your legs with a dull razor. Solution? Avoid those things if possible. Use a sharp or electric razor.
I have large/small dark areas on my skin. They weren't there before I tanned!
This happens to everyone, somewhere on their body. Can be caused by:
- Invisible (or visible) sun damage. You may see slightly darker areas on your skin, or maybe the skin looks normal - until you apply ST. Solution? Once you know where these areas are located, you can use a cotton swabs or damp paper towel to remove some/all of the ST from those specific areas.
- If can also happen if the skin is particularly dry there. Solution? Exfoliate those areas well, and apply lotion before applying ST. Then, depending upon how dark the area tends to get, either wipe off the ST with a damp paper towel or apply a little more lotion over the ST to blend it a bit.
My tan fades quickly.
- It could be the combination of that particular product and your skin. Solution? Try a different product or at least a different type of product. Mousses tend to fade quickly.
- Too little DHA in your product. Solution? Try applying two coats or a product with a higher percentage of DHA.
- Something in your lifestyle is causing your tan to fade. It could be swimming, exercising (tight clothes & sweat), clothes that rub on your skin, etc. Solution? You'll either have to figure our what is causing it and change your behavior, or just accept it and tan more often.
And that wraps up the Sunless Tanning Tips series! If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here or email me directly.
What's your favorite sunless tanning product? Are you a newbie or an expert?
Don't forget to check out the other posts in the series!
Sunless Tanning Tips series: Part 3 - Sunless Tanning Tools
Sunless Tanning Tips series: Part 4 - Application
Sunless Tanning Tips series: Part 4 - Application
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