Getting the Perfect Faux Glow for Your Wedding Day

How can you get a natural-looking tan without baking at the beach or using unhealthy tanning beds?
How can you get a natural-looking tan without baking at the beach or using unhealthy tanning beds?

Nothing sets off bridal white quite like the natural glow of a luscious tan. If you're anything like me, however, tans are hard to come by and painful burns are much more likely. Though there are many fake tanning options to be had, everyone should take pains to avoid looking like a Hollywood C-list reject.

Fortunately, there are several types of faux tans to be had. All you need is a product or two and a little bit of knowhow to get the job done.


Tanning beds are a popular option thanks to their ability to render an even, all-over tan. Unfortunately, these contraptions also come with some serious risks, like sunburn, UV radiation exposure and an overall increased risk of skin cancer. The vast majority of doctors and dermatologists strongly advise against their use.

Another option is a spray tan salon. They are effective and quick, but often pricey and disappointing when it comes to tan longevity.

A couple of options that are easier on the skin and wallet are home spray tans or lotions. Before you begin, bear in mind that these products can take some time to perfect. So, experiment in the weeks and months prior to your nuptials to avoid a fake tan-tastrophe.

For best results, try a couple of brands to see which one works best for your skin. As with most products, you'll probably get what you pay for. So to avoid truly cheap results, you might pick a slightly higher-end line. With any brand, it's not unusual to wind up with streaks or tanning lotion buildup around the cuticles, wrists or ankles.

If tanning spray or lotion is too much for you to commit to right out of the gate, consider a product that is primarily a lotion, but also features a mild self-tanner. That way you can apply it over time and avoid the instant pasty-to-Paris-Hilton look.

To simply amp up the glow in your facial area, consider face-tanning pads. These products are individually pre-moistened with tanning solution, plus they slide right on your hand for application, so the color won't affect your palm. Some even exfoliate simultaneously!

Before you tan in any way, shape or form, take note of the following tips to achieve best results:

  • Exfoliate beforehand. You don't want to put liquid tanner on top of dead skin cells because it'll turn out looking very uneven.
  • Moisturizing is key. Dry skin just doesn't hold the color as well as hydrated skin. So moisturize daily and pay special attention to areas prone to dryness, like the knees, wrists and feet. Let the lotion sink in well before applying liquid tanner.
  • Wash off any deodorant beforehand and cover your eyebrows with a layer of moisturizer to avoid discoloration.
  • When applying tanning spray or lotion, start from your feet and work your way up. Going the other direction will make you have to bend over during the application process and result in some odd tan lines.
  • Gently going over your skin with a buffing mitt following application can help to prevent a splotchy or uneven tan. You'll probably need to recruit someone to help apply tanning lotion to your back and smooth it out after the fact.
  • Right after application, wear dark loose clothing so you don't mark your clothes (so don't try this just before you don your white wedding dress!)

If you're unhappy with your results, simply use some self-tanner remover and try, try again. You'll achieve artificially sun-kissed skin in no time!

Related Articles


  • Evans, Susan, M.D. "The Dangers of Tanning Beds." Feb. 1, 2010. (Sept. 23, 2012).
  • Marie Claire. "Fake Tan Tips." 2012. (Sept. 23, 2012).
  • Panych, Sophia. "Our Favorite Self-tanners to Revive Your Complexion." Allure. April 12, 2012. (Sept. 23, 2012).
  • Trilivas, Renee. "Kate Somerville Face Self Tanning Pads." Allure. 2012. (Sept. 23, 2012).