If you’re trying to achieve a red-carpet-worthy tan IRL, you’re not alone. Each summer, before baring our pasty stems to the world, we purchase gallons of self-tanner, with the hopes that we’ll lock down a summery glow without risking the skin complications that come along with extended sun exposure. But if you’re a serial self-tanner, you know that applying the stuff is no walk in the park; we’re often left with streaks and splotches that make wearing miniskirts all but impossible!
We’re envious of the celebs who get it right—namely, supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Somehow, her tan is always picture-perfect, sans Photoshop. Her personal tanning expert, James Read (who also works with high-profile celebrities such as Mariah Carey and Ryan Reynolds), told E! News that he credits her signature glow to moisturizer! After rinsing off her original spray, Huntington-Whiteley applies moisturizer, mixed with self-tanner, to clean, dry skin. Within hours, she has “a really nice tan that will have a wet look, that makes the legs reflective,” according to Read.
Luckily for us, he spilled a couple other tips that’ll help us achieve a glowy, lasting tan (without breaking the bank on a professional spray).
1. Apply three light layers, instead of one super-dark one.
If you apply one heavy layer of self-tanner to pasty skin, it can rub off, leaving you with bright, pale splotches in highly visible areas. Instead of making this mistake, Read suggests applying your self-tanner “in fine layers… it makes the tan deep and last longer.” If you want to DIY it, apply one super-light layer of tanner and then wait 10 minutes before applying another.
2. Lay a towel over your feet before tanning.
Read says that your feet and hands should be the last parts of your body to receive a tan, which is why he recommends laying a towel over your feet while you’re applying tanner to the rest of your body. We’re not entirely sure why you shouldn’t tan your feet until the very end, but we’re not questioning his judgment.
3. Protect your tan with waterproof sunscreen.
We’ve all been there: You self-tan well in advance of that huge Fourth-of-July pool party, only to realize that your tan has completely faded within hours of exposure to the elements. According to Read, “if you’re on holiday and you’re by the pool, put a waterproof, oil-free SPF on. The waterproof SPF protects the tan.”
Read’s personal favorite self-tanner is his very own James Read Instant Bronzing Mist. (No surprises here.) According to him, it gives you an express tan—plus, he formulated the tanner to his exact preferences. If it’s good enough for Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, it’s good enough for us! You can purchase the product here.