Before You Go Gettin’ Your Tan On …

Y’all been out and bought your self-tanners yet? I’ve used several with varying degrees of success, and I still haven’t found one that I am 100% wild and crazy about, myself, as they tend to feel heavy and suffocating and I just can’t wait to get in the shower and get them OFF of me, thereby nullifying their effects.

But I’m not here to tell you about my phobic fear of slow death by clogged pores. I’m here with a little commentary on the one super BIG thing you just gotta do – JUST GOTTA DO – before you slather on whatever sunless tanning product you’ve chosen. Because let me tell you, I have been on a business trip to Key Largo with a bunch of dried-up, crusty Chicagoans in early April, and I have seen the glowing orange ankles, elbows and knees, and it was not good. NOT GOOD, people.

You have to EXFOLIATE. Here, don’t trust me, read this article that Jo-Lynne found online. Failure to remove the dry, dead skin cells from the areas you’ll be tanning leads to heavier build-up of the product, which will, in turn, leave you looking exactly like a radioactive sweet potato. In a cute sundress.

Not exactly the look you’re going for, hm?

So let me give you a little rundown of my favorite exfoliation products and rituals. Now, back when I was a single woman, gainfully employed with no one to spend money on but my own little vain, pampered self, and would find said self in need of a good exfoliation, why I’d just hie me hither to the local day spa and order up a 90 minute body scrub and a massage, and leave that place as fresh, smooth and soft as a newborn babe.

But now I’m married. To a man. A frugal man. And nothing chaps the hide of a fiscally conservative man like shelling out upwards of two-hundred smackers to have a stranger with a soothing voice basically salt-cure his wife as they listen to new age music and inhale gently diffused lavender and eucalyptus oils together in a dark, steamy tile room.

So, I have had to learn to make my own way, alone in the world of exfoliation, and after buying many expensive-ish scrubs, masks and other concoctions, I’ve arrived at a simple combination that takes very little time, doesn’t create a huge mess in my shower or tub, and leaves me feeling every bit as smooth and slinky as my beloved spa treatment, if perhaps a little less spoiled. Sigh.

For exfoliation, I use two products: An ordinary Buf-Puf and St. Ives Apricot Scrub. Both simple, inexpensive, widely-available (except for the Big Buf Puf Scare of 2004, when my local drugstore chain stopped carrying them with no explanation and I panicked and rushed out and bought up the local Wal-Mart’s entire stock, fearful the Buf-Puf would soon be extinct) remedies stay in my shower year-round, and I use them about twice a week in the harsh mid-Western winter and once a week the remaining 3 and a half weeks of the year. The Buf-Puf gets used on my face as well, maybe every other day or so, just to keep my skin extra clean and shiny (I LIKE SHINY), but when it’s time for full-body exfoliation, I squirt a nice quarter-sized blob of the St. Ives Apricot Scrub (I use the Blemish and Blackhead Control Formula) on my Buf-Puf and gently scrub my arms, legs, chest and back, concentrating my efforts a bit on my knees, elbows and ankles, where the drybies tend to build up. A quick rinse afterwards and I’m all pink and glowing and my skin is ready to drink in a good dose of my favorite moisturizer as soon as I hop out of the shower.

Not only do I find that this particular routine keeps my skin looking pretty darned supple for a forty-year old, it’s also solved the little issue of those pesky white bumps that used to appear on the backs of my arms. And doing this once or twice a week is a great way to prepare skin for the application of your sunless tanner, which is where I was supposed to be headed with this post anyway.

For more how-tos on getting the most of your sunless tanner and bein’ the glowingest, most radiantly healthily tan gal on the block, check out the link above.

Now let’s all put on our sundresses and go have a margarita!

Originally posted April 4, 2008

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About Melissa

Written by Melissa Angert, editor of this fashion blog and author of Girlymama. You can also find her on Twitter as Melissa Angert. She is a mom of 3 living in Providence.