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How to Apply Tanning Mousse in 4 Simple Steps [Quick Guide]

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
How to Apply Tanning Mousse in 4 Simple Steps [Quick Guide]

Are you reading this article because you bought a self-tanning mousse to avoid skin cancer from tanning directly under the sun?

But the point is you still don’t know how to apply your faux tan to yourself properly, right?

You don’t have to worry because you came to the right place! In this article, we will teach you how to apply self-tanning mousse in 4 simple steps and get some fake tan tips.

Ready your mousses, and let’s get the self-tanning going!

How to Apply Self-Tanning Mousse: Step-By-Step Guide

How to Apply Self-Tanning Mousse- Step-By-Step Guide

To give you that golden glow post-summer with a fake tan, we have these steps you can easily follow when you are self-tanning using a tanning mousse.

Step 1: Shave and Exfoliate

Like in any self-tanners, you need to clean your skin by shaving the hair out of the surface, and you must also do some exfoliating to have smooth skin.

Before a self-tan, you can use your favorite shaving applicator to eliminate unwanted body hair, leg hair, and so on.

Laser hair removal or simply waxing the hair can also be done a day before a self-tan.

You can also use an exfoliating mitt to say goodbye to dead skin cells and other leftover products on your skin.

Yet, you can always exfoliate using an exfoliating body scrub. Removing dead skin by exfoliating will give you a perfect canvas before you apply self-tanner.

When you have the BEST BASE for fake tanning, you can get a sun-kissed radiant glow without streaks and dry patches.

An important thing to remember is that you need to do these preliminaries 24 hours before indulging in your whole self-tan experience.

Avoid shaving and exfoliating right before a faux tan because the self-tanner may go inside the open pores left by your hair, producing dark spots.

Step 2: Moisturizing Your Skin

Before going into the most exciting part of tanning, you should take some time to moisturize your skin’s dry areas.

These dry areas are the feet, ankles, legs, wrists, knees, and elbows. Yet, it varies for every individual, so better know what other parts of your body have dry skin.

If you moisturize after exfoliating or shaving, you can ensure a smooth surface where you can apply your self-tanner EVENLY.

Step 3: Choose Self-Tanner and Apply Tanning Mousse

After all, the other steps will not warrant anything if you will not choose a fool-proof self-tanner.

Choose a reliable tanning mousse that suits your skin type and skin tone.

Read the ingredients carefully and ensure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients in the self-tanner.

TIP: Before putting it all over your body, you can do a patch test to know your skin’s reaction to the product.

If you have your self-tanner mousse with you, get an applicator mitt and give it two pumps of mousse. You can add another two pumps if the prior product is not enough to cover your body.

Apply self-tanner in circular motions using your applicator mitt.

Evenly distribute the self-tanning mousse from the feet up to the knees, elbows, and the rest of your body.

REMEMBER: You can do it the other way, depending on how you are used to tanning.

After that, you can proceed with tanning your face using a tanning brush and not a mitt. You can tan your face, just like when you are contouring for makeup.

Keep in mind NOT to tan your lips and your hair! Just tan around the upper and lower lips and below the lines of your hair.

When you are done ensuring that everything has even coverage, simply rinse your hands.

Wash especially your nails, cuticles, and palms to avoid staining your hands and avoid orange palms.

Step 4: Avoid Water on Skin Within 3 to 8 Hours

Avoid rinsing, getting wet in the shower, and frequent handwashing within 8 hours after putting on your tanning mousse.

Doing this will help your tan application fully develop!

Furthermore, this will also help you veer from streaky tan application and other things that can make your fake tan obvious.

However, if you only use your bare hands in applying a self-tanner, you can wash your hands right after tanning to avoid staining.

Additional Fake Tan Tips to Keep in Mind

Additional Fake Tan Tips to Keep in Mind

Aside from the 4-step tanning application mentioned above, here are some top tips for self-tanning that you should be aware of:

1. Remove Leftover Products Before Applying & Reapplying Tan

To have a smooth and even tan, ensure you wash away all the products you have put on your skin through exfoliating or showering.

One of the essential fake tan tips to remember is to make a clean canvas before going on another self-tanning session.

2. Avoid Deodorants and Perfume

Applying deodorants and perfume right before you apply your self-tanner may make your self-tanner fall off easily with just one wash (or even no wash at all!).

It may also react with the components of your self-tanners like Dihydroxyacetone or DHA. The DHA responds to the dead cells on the top layer of your skin.

So, if you have other products like deodorant or perfume, you will probably have greenish tones instead of a bronze glow.

3. Do Not Use a Tanning Mitt When Tanning Your Face

Use a tanning brush instead to easily blend the product on your face, just like when you do your makeup.

You can also use your bare hands to have more control resulting in an even tan on your face. Just apply it using a circular motion.

4. Apply Lightly on Tricky Areas

You must apply LIGHTLY on tricky areas like your feet, ankles, knees, legs, elbows, neck, face, and hands.

These areas get dark spots that can look uneven with the rest of the body if you use more than recommended.

5. Bend Your Fingers When Applying Tan on Your Hands

Put your fingers in a claw-like position so that your skin will stretch enough to cover the creases with a self-tanner.

By this, you will not have problems concerning fine white lines on your hands.

6. Allow Your Tan to Dry FULLY Before Putting on Clothes

You need to do this because you do not want your tan to go all over your favorite dress or shirt!

Although there are transfer-proof tans, it is always beneficial to ensure your tan’s dry enough before wearing clothes.

You do not need to wait long for your tan to dry because many self-tanning products have a quick drying formula.

7. Shower Using Cold Water

After 8 hours of leaving your tan on your skin, and you decide to shower, use cold water. Using cold water will ensure your tan’s still intact and not get patchy.

8. Aftercare Is as Essential as Tanning Preliminaries

How you take care of and maintain your tan will determine how long it will stay.

Even if the product description says it can last approximately two weeks, it won’t last that long (even shorter) if you don’t maintain it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Before tanning, you will indeed have a whole lot of questions. But don’t worry that much because, in this section, we will show you the answers to your queries.

Do You Put Lotion on Before Tanning Mousse?


Putting lotion right before tanning may affect how long your tanners hold. If your skin is super dewy, your tanner may not last long, or it may not stick at all.

How Do You Apply Tanning Mousse Without Streaks?

You have to bear a few things in mind.

  1. Exfoliate a day prior
  2. Make sure your skin’s dry before applying tan
  3. Apply lightly on tricky areas.

Remember these steps, and you should be fine!

How Long Should You Leave Tanning Mousse On?

It depends on the product description, but you likely have to leave it on for 8 hours to fully develop before washing it off with cold water.

Final Words

Getting that radiant glow when you apply fake tan is always a deal breaker. However, you can only get it if you know how to apply self-tanning mousse appropriately.

You will surely ACE that flawless finish and a subtle glow now that you have learned the simple steps in applying your self-tanner and some helpful self-tanning tips and tricks.

Always remember to shave, exfoliate, use a moisturizer, apply the best self-tanner, and let your self-tan develop.

Now, get that beautiful glow with your self-tanner!