You don't need UV rays to get a tan like this

As the palest person this side of Iceland, I have become an expert at sunless tanning. If you are like me and your skin will never bronze past an unflattering shade of red, sunless tanning products are going to be your new best friends this summer. From a subtle glow to an all-around tan, there are a multitude of methods you can take to make sure that your faux glow is fabulous (and non-orange).

If you are a tanning newbie, don’t fear. I was once fair and unaware 24/7 (instead of just the days I’m lazy and put zero effort into not looking like a member of the undead). My advice would be to go all out your first time to see if you like yourself with a tan, which I’m willing to bet money that you will be. The safest bet to your first tan is with a custom airbrush, which generally runs between $25 and $65. Not every tanning salon does this, so call in advance to ask about their services. Airbrushing is not the same as a spray tan booth. This is when a trained professional takes an airbrush machine and sprays it on you. This is the first class version of tanning. The most expensive option, but it is definitely worth it, especially for a special event. The professional will talk you through the process and make sure that your tan is even and natural looking. If you get lucky, the airbrusher might also spray your tan on to contour your abs or make your legs look thinner. So count the extra cost of the airbrush against the money you’ll be saving on dieting.

Another option is a Mystic Tan booth, which generally costs $20-$30 a session. Instead of a person airbrushing you, you will stand in a booth while it mists you with tanner. On your first time, one of the tanning salon employees will walk you through the process, but the most important thing to remember is the barrier cream lesson. The salon will provide you with a thick lotion – known as a barrier cream – that you will put on your hands, feet and nails to prevent them from tanning. Apply thickly to your nails and palms, and then put a thin layer on the back of your hands and on your heels (or any other dry area, such as your elbows or knees).

Clarins "Delicious" Tanning Cream

If leaving your house isn’t high on your priority list – and with the multiple heat waves, I don’t blame you – there are great at home options as well. The best one, in my humble and sun-kissed opinion, is Clarins “Delicious” Self Tanning Cream. It has a small amount of bronzer in the cream which allows you to apply it more evenly because you can actually see where you have already applied. Tanning gels and mousses usually go on clear, which makes it difficult to apply evenly. There are also drugstore brands that you can use, just make sure you rub them in completely in a circular motion to ensure a no streak tan. Also, after any of these products, you need to scrub the palms of your hands with a wet washcloth so you don’t look like you were finger-painting with just the orange paint.

After any sunless tanning, you need to wait for the tanner to sink in. This will generally take around 6 hours, but I leave it on overnight for the best and most even tan. The most important steps in any sunless tanning method: exfoliate and moisturize. Before any sunless tanning, exfoliate your entire body and apply a water-based moisturizer where needed. Once you shower, moisturize religiously, it will extend the life of your tan significantly. At any tanning salon, you can buy a lotion designed to help you maintain your tan. This lotion is the best option for maximum results, but any moisturizer will do.

Finally, if going gradual is your M.O., you can always go with a lotion that offers a hint of self tanner. Word to the wise: choose a lotion for skin one shade darker than your natural color. For example, although you might be considered “Fair,” go for the “Medium” lotion. It won’t look unnatural and your glow will be a little more noticeable. You will still have to apply once or twice a day for a continuous period of time to maintain a subtle glow, but with a lighter shade you might not even notice a difference. I also like to use L’Oreal’s gradual lotion because it has a hint of sparkle in it, but maybe you’re not as drawn to glitter as I am, in which case any drugstore brand – like Neutrogena – is a great pick. For a quick fix on your arms or legs, apply an airbrush tanner like from Sally Hansen, it’s a great pick when you’re in a rush.

Remember, nothing completes a summer outfit like a summer tan!

~Ashley, fashioniSTA, Second Time Around