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Grooming: Getting the Perfect Fake Tan

Photo: Courtesy of Clarins

Everyone knows a healthy looking tan is one of the season's must-have accessories. But leathery, wrinkled faces are not so "in." Sun exposure is the number one reason for speeding up the aging process. So, how do you get a healthy, glowing tan without putting the aging process on hyperdrive? Fake and bake!

I know what you're thinking. Sunless tanners look orange, streaky, fake and obvious. While that was certainly true for older formulations, the latest crop of tanners have improved formulas that provide a realistic-looking tan without the tell-tale signs of a bottle tan. They use multiple tanning agents to create a golden brown glow instead of a bitchy orange hue.

Here are some tips for getting the perfect fake tan:

1. Choose the right tanner! We love Clarins Self-Tanning Instant Gel because it adds a subtle amount of perfect bronze color without being completely obvious--even for pale queens like me. If you're a first-timer or extremely pale, try using a "Build A Tan" or "Gradual Tan" by Neutrogena, Jergens or Coppertone which creates a golden look after a few days of regular use. These build-your-own style products give you more control over how much color you get and makes streaks nearly impossible.

2. Exfoliate before you apply! Sunless tanners work by interacting with the keratin on the outermost layers of your skin. The tanners interact differently with rough, dry patches of skin and can look blotchy and obvious. So scrub those patches away and apply the tanner sparingly to elbows and knees. Exfoliating will also extend the life of your tan by a couple of days.

3. Put it on before bed and wake up with a new tan. It takes roughly 4 to 8 hours for the tan to fully develop and you don't want your coworkers to wonder why you're changing colors over the course of the work day. Just make sure that you allow the product to dry completely before hopping into the sheets or your linens will get a golden tan, too.

4. Wash your hands frequently during application. One of the tell-tale signs of self-tanning are orange or tan palms because people forget to wash their hands thoroughly during application. Or, wear a pair of gloves if you've got em.

5. Avoid self tanners with instant bronzers. When a self tanning product contains an instant bronzer, it includes a brown dye to create a tan look immediately. While they are helpful in showing where you've applied the product, the bronzers often lead to streaks. The dyes wash off in the shower and sometimes rub off on clothes. Stick to the tried-and-true formulas.

Clarins Self-Tanning Instant Gel, $30, Clarins .com

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