How to get a perfect faux bronze

Founder of Completely Bare spas ( and former Real Housewives of New York City cast member Cindy Barshop shares her insider tips on how to properly apply at-home tanners.



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1. Pick the right product
"Choose formulas that have DHA [docosahexaenoic acid] in it because it's an amplifier," says Barshop. "And I like ones that you can see the bronze as you apply it because then you get immediate results and less surprises later. If it has sparkle and bling, then do not put it on your face because it won't look natural. Usually tanners with glitter contain oils and moisturizers that are meant for the body only. Find out what you like—moisturizer, spray or foam—and stick with it to look uniform, in terms of tone and texture. I personally lean towards sprays because you can get those hard-to-reach areas. Also, if you always use the same brand, the color will look more even."

2. Buff your bod
Slough off dead skin using a scrub, such as Barshop's favorite, June Jacobs Spa Collection Lemon Sugar body polish ($48, at It allows the formula to go on much smoother, and the bronze will last longer because dead skin naturally flakes off. "Then shave—even if there is no hair there," says Barshop. "It exfoliates the skin even more."

3. Lube up
"If there are any dry areas, rub in a small amount of moisturizer because when you apply the tanner, it can absorb too much on dry spots and leave dark marks," explains Barshop. "Also put lotion around your feet, toes, nails, knees and elbows—it works as a blocker. Particles can stick to these areas and look too brown, so the moisturizer prevents this."

4. Get golden
"Wear rubber gloves [during the application process], and rub the formula into your skin in small, circular motions because it tends to blend better; up-and-down strokes can cause streaks," explains Barshop. "Always apply a lighter layer to your face since you can fix it with makeup. Once you're done, remove the gloves and rub some tanner on the top of each hand. Wash your palms using a washcloth and a scrub."

5. Set your glow
Barshop notes that you can blast your body with a blow-dryer on cool if you're in a hurry to put on your clothes. To avoid smelling like Snooki post-application, she suggests using a moisturizer with a strong fragrance to help mask the scent.

6. Make it last
"The less you shower and exfoliate, the longer it stays," notes Barshop. "Use a deep [penetrating] moisturizer every day to keep the skin from flaking. It also allows the skin to look more natural and less dull. Intensify the color by adding on more tanner the next day. If you end up with too much color somewhere—say, on your leg—exfoliate the whole leg and start over. Your tan should fade evenly, but if it doesn't, then exfoliate the body twice. Use a heavy scrub with larger beads; that should take most of it off."

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