What is exfoliating
Exfoliating helps get rid of dead skin cells that lie on the top layer of skin. These cells stay “glued” to the body with oils, sweat, and sebum. Though it might sound icky, this layer works as a barrier to help protect the skin from toxins and pollution. It also helps lock in moisture and beneficial lipids. We need this layer, but we also need to keep it moving and regenerating itself by exfoliating once to twice a week. Even if you’re not going to faux tan after exfoliating, it can be essential to keeping skin healthy and looking fabulous.
What does this mean for your tan? The reason it is so important to exfoliate before your tan is because of how self tanners work. Sunless tanner is difficult to absorb if your skin is too oily and can absorb too much on dry, patchy and flaky skin. Either way, these issues can make your tan come out looking streaky, orange and cause it to fade faster. Not good!
What kind of exfoliators are best before self-tanners?
There are two main types of exfoliation; mechanical or physical and chemical. Physical exfoliants are faster and cheaper for covering such a large area as the body and therefore the best way to prepare the skin before a self tan. There are countless ways to exfoliate, with each method being more suited for different skin types and body parts than others.
Mechanical exfoliation uses physical tools or textured skin care products to slough off dead skin cells. Tools can involve a loofah, a dry brush or exfoliating gloves, for example, while textured skin care products are made with physical ingredients to loosen dead skin.
The best types of exfoliants for the body are usually scrubs made with salt, sugar or coffee as they work best on thicker skin. They are especially awesome on elbows, knees and the bottoms of the feet.
If you use a method that is too abrasive, such as scrubs that contain crushed fruit pits or nut shells, you can risk damaging your skin with micro-tears and abrasions. Stay away from these products.
How to exfoliate the body before self-tanning
Pre-Game: If you plan on using an exfoliant that contains oil, use it either the day before and shower once again before you apply your self tanning foam, or don’t use one at all. The best sunless tan results come from on skin that isn’t too dry nor too moist. Don’t exfoliate if you are recovering from a sunburn, or experiencing major irritation or open wounds.
It’s wise to pre-exfoliate with an exfoliating tool for the best results. This part of the process begins lifting dead skin from the “glue” of sebum and sweat. Feel free to wash with a body wash first before using a sugar, salt or coffee-based body scrub.
Scrub time: You can use a scrub with your exfoliating tool or by itself. Start scrubbing in circular motions from the feet and work your way up. Take care of your back with a long-handled brush or sponge.
Move up to the belly and torso. Use a gentle hand on areas where the skin is more sensitive like the bikini line and chest.
Rinse: Apply a light layer of lotion while still wet. Applying lotion this way will keep the skin hydrated without going over board and potentially messing up your tan.
Pat dry with a towel and ensure that the lotion is fully absorbed. Feel free to apply heavier lotions on the elbows and knees though, because these spots can absorb too much color, making your tan look uneven. Once the skin feels dry, even and smooth, you can move forward with your sunless tan! Yay!