How To Marinate In Self-Tanner Overnight Without Wrecking Your Sheets

If a bronzed glow is calling your name but you want protection from the sun's UV rays, bring on the self-tanners. The options are plentiful these days, and with a little planning and at least one practice run, you can master the process so your tan looks flawless with each new application. The problem is, the process can be a bit messy.

Thankfully, you absolutely can pull off an overnight fake tan without destroying your sheets. Letting the product absorb completely into your skin before bed is one trick that allows marinating overnight to work (without creating a mess). For a guaranteed way to save your sheets, use clear self-tanning products — but even if you choose a colorless product, allow it to dry completely before hopping into bed. Wear pajamas to minimize how much skin comes into contact with your sheets, and even gloves and socks on your hands and feet — as we roll around in our sleep, there's skin-on-skin contact and that can darken those areas. 

Remember, you'll still need to protect your skin when you go outside. Look for something broad-spectrum: When it comes to sunscreen, a higher SPF isn't always better

Choosing the right product

Choosing the right self-tanner comes down to experience and personal preference. Although the guide color is the ingredient that can wreck your bedding, products with guide color are best for beginners as your trial run (or forever if you like it). It will get you used to spreading product evenly and you'll get the hang of how much to use — guide color will show you instantly where you've applied too much, or not enough, product. 

If you're a beginner, grab a self-tanning lotion because it spreads easily, though lotions take longer to absorb. Another option, glow pads, are soaked with tanner, though you might need a few for your whole body. Pads are convenient and great for traveling; to prevent streaking, make sure you apply enough pressure to cover every spot. Mousse is recommended for slightly more experienced tanners who are already comfortable with how much product to use. These are a great option before bed because they dry quickly and often have the lightest guide tint. Finally, gels are perfect for people with normal to oily skin and glide on easily. They're a bit harder to find, but still a good choice for expert-level self-tanners. 

For a couple of clear product ideas, try Tan-Luxe Hydra Mousse, St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist, or Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops. As a general rule, always use a separate self-tanner that's specially formulated just for the face (we'd also advise you to carry Korean sunscreen everywhere for your face because of its exceptionally high-quality ingredients).

Important prepping tips

To get the smoothest possible faux tan, consider a little prep ritual for yourself at least a full day or so before your tanning session. First, exfoliate the day before to eliminate dead skin cells. Try a salt scrub — we like Trader Joe's Lavender Salt Scrub because it works and has soothing oils. Remove all unwanted hair 24 hours before you apply self-tanner. If you shave on tanning day, the tanner can settle into your pores, creating dark spots. 

If you can skip deodorant and fragrance the day of, do it. The aluminum in deodorant and antiperspirant can turn tanning products green and so can oxidation. Use an unscented moisturizer about three hours before you apply self-tanner to prevent the over-absorption of color. For the most even application, use a tanning mitt.

Also, check the instructions — some tanners you'll need to rinse off the next morning (without soap), and others you won't. Store self-tanners in a cool dark place, and they last for six months.