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How do I Choose the Best Bronzer Lotion?

N. Freim
N. Freim

Self-tanning lotion used to call to mind orange skin, but today’s bronzers can be a great alternative to tanning. To choose the best bronzer lotion, you should first consider your skin tone and look for bronzers in the same shade as your natural tan. First time users might consider lotions that build color gradually or tinted lotions that are easy to see when applying. A light bronzer lotion is usually best for the face, and some contain sunscreens as an added bonus. Overall, the key to the best bronzer is in careful application, avoiding streaks and going easy on such areas as knees and elbows.

Although you may want a deep, dark tan, you should choose bronzer lotion according to your skin tone. It is typically best to start with the bronzer that most closely mimics your naturally tanned skin. If you are not sure what shade to pick, you may be better off to start with a lighter shade, as an extreme change in color may look artificial on you. Dark shades of bronze also tend to show mistakes more easily, so it may be best to avoid these unless you are experienced with applying bronzer.

Woman posing
Woman posing

If you have never tried bronzers before, the best choice for a first bronzer may be one of the lotions that will darken over time. These tanners are designed to be applied in repeated layers of light color until you reach the best shade for you. Some tanners also are available as body lotion intended for daily use; the bronzing is just an extra feature.

Tinted lotions can also be a good option for first time users because you can see exactly where you have put the bronzer lotion. This helps avoid streaks and missed areas as well as making sure that you have rinsed all of the excess off your hands. Keep in mind, though, the tint of the lotion is not necessarily the final shade.

When choosing your bronzer lotion, you may want to consider all its features. Some bronzers include sun protection, which means you could skip an additional sunscreen. This is important since your skin may look tan but could still burn easily without sun block. You might also invest in a special formula for your face. Although most bronzers can be used all over the body, the tanners designed for faces often have a lighter, softer color than other bronzing lotions — a shade that looks good on your legs may be overpowering on your face.

No matter which bronzer you choose, proper application will help make the best of the product, and exfoliating first can help the tan last longer. Apply the lotion systematically from the feet up, taking your time to avoid spots and streaking. Rougher areas such as heels, knees, and elbows can soak up more tanner, so it's usually best to apply the bronzer sparingly on these spots. You may also need to let the lotion dry for five to ten minutes before getting dressed to avoid getting bronzer on your clothes. If you have any mistakes, you can usually scrub the bronzer off with a mixture of sugar and lemon juice and start over.

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Discussion Comments


Several natural products companies make tinted bronzer lotions and tanning bronzer lotions that contain no artificial ingredients. I have tried several of these products, and I have found that they provide a natural finish that blends in better than products that contain artificial oils and additives.


Whether you are using a tinted bronzer lotion or one that gets darker over time on your face, it is very important that you rub it in thoroughly and blend it into your hairline and neck. If you fail to do this, you would end up with a mask-like appearance if your face is darker than your scalp and neck.

Using a makeup sponge is a good way to get a well-blended result from any type of facial bronzer. As you use it to blend your bronzer, it will also soak up any excess lotion so you get a streak-free finish.

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