Self-Tanning Tips and Tricks Only an Expert Celebrity Tanner Would Know

While tackling beauty treatments from home is our m.o., the one thing we’re always less than confident about is self-tanning (thanks to a few too many orange experiences). Lucky for us, celebrity tanning expert and creator of the color-correcting tanning line Isle of Paradise, Jules Von Hep, wants to change that. He dished on the best tips and tricks he’s accrued in his ten-plus years as a bronzing pro, and one thing’s for sure—if they’re good enough for JLaw and Kate Moss, they’re good enough for us.

Read on for all the self-tanning advice you’ll ever need.

This Beauty Trick Makes You Look Tanner (But Doesn’t Involve Bronzer)

isle of paradise self tanning products sitting on a ledge
Isle of Paradise

What’s the easiest type of tanning product for a beginner to start with?
Mousse is definitely more for someone who knows what they’re doing, an at home pro, if you will. But it does give the deepest color, and because it has a guide color, you can literally paint your skin and follow the guide. Tanning waters are probably the easiest because you can just spray like you would an SPF and rub in with a mitt.” As for the drops, Von Hep recommends them for anyone who already has a moisturizing routine they love. Simply incorporate as many or as few drops as you’d like and watch the color gradually build.

What can pale ladies to do ensure they don’t look orange?
“For fair skin tones it’s not about being tan. It’s about being glowy,” says Von Hep. “You just want to remove that blue undertone from the skin and take the edge off, so go light at first (you can always apply more later).” Von Hep again recommends using the drops so you have more control over how the color builds without overdoing it.

a tan woman sitting by the ocean on the beach
gawriloff/Getty Images

What’s the best way to fix streaks and mistakes?
There are more preventative measures you can take before streaks appear than there are ways to fix them after the tanner has developed, but don’t fret; that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. If you don’t 100 percent trust that you applied the tanner evenly, Von Hep suggests taking a dry applicator mitt and going over your whole body to help blend further before it settles in. Or, if you start to panic immediately after applying, just hop in the shower, rinse everything off, and start over.

Let’s say you wake up in the morning and find tiger stripes streaked across your body. Von Hep suggests taking a dark tanning moisturizer, like Isle of Paradise’s Disco Tan, and a beauty blender and going over the areas that need fixing as if you were applying body makeup.

What can we do to combat embarrassing sweat streaks during the summer?
Luckily, Von Hep’s answer is surprisingly simple. All you need to do is lock the tan in using powder, a.s.a.p. “I love the It Cosmetics blurring powder. They also have a really large body brush. So all you do is just cover your body with this powder and keep doing it and it’ll absorb any moisturizer from the air and protect the tan.” Another hot tip for sweaty gals and those in humid climates: Use mousse. It sticks to the skin and dries much faster than other self-tanning solutions, meaning there’s less time for water to do damage.

a tan woman dancing
Isle of Paradise

How can we help our tan fade evenly and prevent the “giraffe skin” effect?
A successful self-tan relies heavily on the prep. “You must, must, must exfoliate before application!” Von Hep stresses. If you’re starting with an even layer of skin (i.e., no flaky patches of dead skin cells), then the tan will fade more evenly on its own. And don’t panic and try to scrub all your skin off. Adding a bit of sugar to your body wash will create a really gentle body scrub. You can also supplement with Von Hep’s Over It, an exfoliating glycolic micellar water, to strip residue from any trouble areas.

And what about elongating the life of our glow?
Von Hep likes to equate a tan to dyed hair. “Just like how you need to apply a hydrating violet shampoo to blonde hair, you also need to keep your tan moisturized and hydrated.” That means avoiding super-hot showers and applying a moisturizer daily. He also suggests using a gradual tan moisturizer to give your glow a boost. “So if I spray a client on a Thursday, on Friday they’ll have a beautiful glow that’ll last through the weekend. Then I’ll recommend they apply the Happy Tan on Monday to just give the color a little lift and keep the ball rolling.”

three tan ladies hanging out
Isle of Paradise

Any final words of wisdom?
Just like with makeup application, no one is perfect at self-tanning right off the bat. There’s a learning curve. “Your at-home tan might not be perfect and that’s OK! It’s all about practice makes perfect, but you’ve definitely got this. I see a very glowy summer in your future,” Von Hep assures us, and with so much advice to get us started, we feel pretty confident he’s right.



Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...