Perfect Tans for Busy Moms

With today's self-tanners, you can look like you've been out in the sun without damaging your skin.

Get a Faux Glow

1. First, exfoliate with a body scrub to help the tanner glide on evenly, says Rita Ukis of Avon Salon & Spa in New York City. Moisturize, then be sure you're completely dry before you start.

2. Ukis advises clients to wear latex gloves while applying tanner to protect hands and nails and to minimize streaking, but it's not essential. "If you don't wear gloves, just be sure to wash your hands with an exfoliating scrub immediately after tanning," she says.

3. Apply tanner to your legs first, in long, even strokes, avoiding the knees and ankles. "Areas with rough skin like your knees, ankles, and elbows absorb more color, so it's best to tan these parts when there's very little product left on your hands," Ukis says.

4. Follow the same procedure with your arms, tanning elbows last. Apply tanner to your chest and shoulders, then a small amount to your face.

5. If you make a mistake like applying too much, Ukis recommends wiping the area with a towel "quickly, because once the self-tanner dries, there's no way to fix errors." Your new tan should appear within four to five hours and last about a week.

    Five Fabulous Self-Tanners

    • Models Prefer Go Tan Custom Color Self-Tanning System (qvc.com) comes in a unique bottle that allows you to adjust the depth of your tan. The kit also includes an exfoliant, hydrating cream, and sponge applicators.
    • Neutrogena Build-a-Tan (drugstores) is ideal for beginners since it gradually adds a hint of color every time you apply. Mistakes aren't so noticeable and you can acquire your tan "naturally" over several days.
    • Lancome Soleil Hydra Flash Bronzer Daily Face Moisturizer (lancome.com) is the next generation of self-tanners, complete with age-fighting antioxidants.
    • L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Gelee (drugstores) isn't for the timid -- this nongreasy gel imparts a deep, rich, dramatic tan.
    • Estee Lauder Go Bronze Plus Tinted Self-Tanner for Body (gloss.com) is worth the extra money. The tinted tanner helps you keep track of where you put it and you get an even, natural glow.

      Scrubbed to Perfection

      Exfoliating dull skin several times a week is not only essential to achieving a flawless self-tan, but it also helps prevent body acne. Follow these professional techniques to look luminous from head to toe -- a great ego boost if you're still battling baby weight!

      1. Begin by dry-brushing your body. In the morning, before stepping into the shower, run a soft natural-bristle brush over your entire body, starting at your feet and moving upward.

      2. Step into the shower (but don't turn on the water) and apply a body scrub in circular motions from your ankles upward. Rinse with warm water and shower as usual. Try Origins Incredible Spreadable Scrub (origins.com), Healing Garden Intensive Body Scrub ($9; drugstores), or Issimo Relax! Tutti Frutti Foaming Grains (877-ISSIMO-1 for stores).

      3. Use a glycolic acid body wash on areas like elbows and knees to soften hard, rough, or discolored skin. Aqua Glycolic's Shampoo and Body Cleanser (www.aquaglycolic.com), for instance, is also a great clarifying shampoo.

      4. After showering, while skin is still damp, slather on a rich body lotion. Try an alpha hydroxy acid body lotion such as Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Lotion (drugstores).

        Originally published in American Baby magazine, July 2004.