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Self-tanning is one of those beauty skills (like liquid liner or curling your hair) that takes a bit of practice to get right. But once you do, you’ll have endlessly bronzed skin (without any sunburn) to show for it. We consulted Sophie Evans, St. Tropez skin-finishing expert (and guru responsible for Kate Moss’s faux glow), on the most common mistakes people make when tanning and how to prevent them altogether.

RELATED: 5 Summer Skin-Care Tips You Might Not Know

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Shaving at the Wrong Time
You should shave at least 24 hours before you apply any self-tanner. Same goes for waxing. This is because the top layer of skin would be removed with your hair if you shave afterward, leading to an uneven finish.

Not Moisturizing the Dry Spots
Like your elbows, knees, hands, wrists, feet and backs of the heels. Dry skin tends to soak up more self-tanner and can develop into a darker shade than the other, less-dry areas.

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Using Your Hands
Trust us on this one, as we (unfortunately) speak from experience. Get thee an applicator mitt, which will deliver a smoother coverage and prevent any staining on your hands. Slip the mitt onto your dominant hand, flatten your palm and use light sweeping stokes to apply the self-tanner onto your body. As a final step, apply a little bit of product to the tops of your hands, making sure you blend in-between your fingers (and switch the mitt to the other hand to get both sides).

Not Using Enough Product
This is especially true for self-tanning newbies as they’re scared of accidentally overdoing it and turning into an Oompa Loompa. Rest assured, you can never use too much self-tanner, as the skin can absorb only up to a certain amount of color at once, says Evans. Load your mitt with enough product so that it glides easily over your skin without any tugging.

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Skipping the Exfoliator Afterward
We were skeptical when we heard this, too, but it actually makes sense if you think about it. Between the friction from your clothing and sweat, certain areas fade more quickly than others. By exfoliating every few days, it will help your tan fade more evenly.

Not Correcting a Mistake Right Away
Nothing is permanent—so don't let an uneven patch linger and get worse. At the first sign of a mistake, apply baby oil to the darker area and leave on for ten minutes. Then, go in with the aforementioned exfoliator and a warm washcloth to gently buff the skin and remove the excess color. You're now all ready to try this again.

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