Harvard-trained dermatologist's tips on getting that perfect fake tan

The days of streaky, orange-zebra colored skin are over, says the Harvard-trained dermatologist. Improvements in self-tanners have opened up a world of possibilities to pale lads and lassies. But the room for error is still there and application is truly an art. Dr. Jacob recommends self-tanners to all of her patients and has these tips on preparation and application:

Preparation of Skin:

Slough the skin! Exfoliation with a loofah or body scrub beforehand is key in getting a gorgeous beach gal glow – without exfoliation, the tanner will go on unevenly and very dark in areas of dead, dry skin.

Make sure to exfoliate on the day of application so that dead cells don't have time to build up on the skin. The best scrubs include the tried-and-true St. Ives Apricot Scrub for the face and Dermadoctor KP Body Scrub for the body


Buy the correct shade for your skin! With all of the advances in self-tanners came varying degrees of color to avoid that "too-tan" look on fairer-skinned people.

Dr. Jacob's favorite tanner is Eau Thermale Avene Moisturizing self-tanning lotion, which comes as a kit with a Glytone glycolic acid body was and pouf for exfoliating prior. Clarins self-tanner is also a very safe bet, and can be made lighter by using mixing a bit of the tanner with a bit of unscented, lightweight lotion. Lastly, GlowFusion Micro-Nutrient Face & Body Natural Protein Tan goes on lightly and dries to look very natural

When applying at home, start at the feet and work the way up to your face – that way, you won't get the "tummy crease" that can result from bending down to apply tanner after you've applied it to your torso. Make sure to rub it in WELL and wash hands immediately after to avoid the orange creases finger webs!

Dry and be patient! Allow the tanner to dry for a longer amount of time than you think. Depending on your skin type, the tanner may take more or less time to set and you certainly don't want tan bed sheets!

For an optimal, perfect glow, head to an aesthetician and have a spray-on session to get into "every nook and cranny", says Dr. Jacob, then maintain the color every other day with a self tanner. These sessions run about $40 and will last about a week and a half. Here's where you can find the products Dr. Jacobs recommends:


Dr. Carolyn Jacob is fellowship trained in Cosmetic and Laser Surgery from Harvard Medical School. She has authored several book chapters and journal articles in the field of cosmetic and Laser Surgery. She is Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology and is an Associate Clinical Instructor at Northwestern Medical School. Jacob is an active member of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, and the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery.

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