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How to Use a Gradual Tanner for a Party Season Glow

(Updated for 2024)

A gradual tanner is perfect for party season! It’s time to put in a bit of work to achieve that natural glow that will last straight through the New Year holiday period. Unfortunately, the year’s end is one of the busiest periods because work coincides with many parties and social events. It’s easy to forget about your beauty regime for a couple of days here and there. One of the first to usually go can be your weekly or daily routine of self-tanning.

To combat the change in your use of tanning products, we’ll teach you how to keep your all-over glow on in the midst of all the holiday chaos. Our weapon of choice: gradual tanner.

gradual tanner

10 Quick Steps:

1. If you’re a beginner to fake tan, a gradual tan is the best way to start. Take it slowly at first and build up to the tan you want.

2. Don’t leave it until the last minute to apply fake or gradual tanners. Allow the colour to develop over 24 – 48 hours for the best sunkissed glow.

3. Don’t remove leg hair just before applying fake tan. You don’t want a spotty appearance from your tanner going into the hair follicles.

4. Do exfoliate on the day of your tan.

5. Don’t moisturise or use any other skin care products before application. (It is ok to lightly moisturise ankles, heels and elbows as these are the drier parts of your body and you need to be extra careful when applying self tanner to these areas. Use less product here also).

6. Take the time to experiment to find the best time to leave on the tanner.

7. Stay inside and in a place where you won’t sweat.

8 Rinse off with just water.

9. Don’t use moisturisers immediately after your first shower. Allow the tanner to achieve its full glow. But after you get your perfect tan, do use moisturiser regularly for an ongoing glow.

10. Top up with gradual tanners after a few days.

fake tanning on face

How to Apply a Gradual Tanner

  • Open the party season with a proper prep day to start your daily routine for a gorgeous sun-kissed glow.

It doesn’t matter if you’re coming in with a full self-tanning session or with dabs of your gradual tan moisturiser, proper preparation is always key. Exfoliate at least 24 hours before applying your gradual tanning moisturiser. This will help remove the outermost layer of your skin (the dry skin with dead skin cells) and will help your self-tanner stay on more evenly and last longer.

Have a shower and then apply your gradual tanner. Don’t use any products before application (apart from your exfoliation and face cleanser). Avoid moisturisers, deodorants, oils and other types of skin care. Clean, dry skin is vital for an all over gradual tan. Ensure you use a tanning mitt and circular motions to apply for a perfect gradual tan.

bronzing drops vs tanning drops
  • Gently cleanse your face before application to get the best complexion friendly gradual glow.

On the day of application, gently cleanse your face with your usual cleanser and pat dry. Skip your usual serums and other moisturisers for now. This will allow the self-tanner to absorb into your skin better due to the absence of additional barriers. Give any other products a miss, even supposedly cleansing products such as toners and the like. These might interfere with the active DHA in the gradual tanner which may affect the final outcome of your natural looking, radiant glow.

  • Mix and apply evenly.

Best Gradual Tanner & Tips

While it might be tempting to come up with a ready-made mixture of moisturiser and tanning oil or drops, making a fresh batch is always better than using your own leftover product. This is to ensure that your mixture stays bacteria-free and will prevent any unwanted reactions when left mixed for a long time. If ready-made gradual tanning lotions are your thing, we advise going for one that is mixed straight from the manufacturer. A pre-mixed gradual tanning moisturiser has a higher chance of non-contamination and has been tested for any adverse reactions to achieve a natural-looking glow.

For tanning oil or drops, mix a few drops (such as Bondi Bodz’ Afterglow Tanning Drops) with your moisturiser of choice. Apply the gradual tanner on your face and neck evenly in sweeping motions, making sure to go into every nook and cranny. You don’t want to have tiny splotches on your face. Be as thorough as you can to get the best level of intensity.

afterglow gradual tanner drops

Should I Use Fake Tan Before Bed?

We love to apply gradual tanners before bed so we can wake up the next day with a holiday-ready glow. But if you’re too tired to do anything else at night, make sure you top up the next day with at least six hours left before the party. This will allow the colour to deepen and fully develop into a natural bronze glow.

If you’re worried about your tanning product staining your sheets, you can either use baby powder and/or a sheet protector and just throw this into the washing machine in the morning.

  • Always finish with SPF sun tan lotion.

This step is especially important if you are spending your holidays by the beach. Not only will skipping this step destroy your radiant skin (and your glow), but it will also hurt. You don’t want to remember your holiday sunburn.

Gradual tanners do not give you an extra level of sun protection so always finish up your tan with a strong SPF. This will also help your tan fade more evenly. Ultimately, this will keep your skin free from dangerous levels of UV, ensuring healthy, well-maintained hydrated skin even through to old age. Never forget to SPF up!

suntan lotion on woman's shoulder

Reapply the gradual tanner every night or as needed.

If you want to deepen the colour of your tan, reapplying is a must. Start a few days prior to your party and build up to your desired bronzed glow along the way. As soon as you are happy, you can maintain it by applying the gradual tanner around once or twice a week.

How can I keep my holiday glow lasting throughout a week or partying?

  • Avoid certain skincare ingredients that may speed up the rate of your tan’s fading.

If you’re not the type to enjoy topping up as often as needed, your next best bet is to make sure your fake tanning efforts last as long as possible. To do that, you’ll want to steer clear of stronger exfoliants such as salicylic acid (BHA), AHAs, and retinoids at least not right after tanning.

There’s no need to completely cut out exfoliants. You may introduce them back into your routine after a day or two since they do help your tan fade evenly. But if you want the maximum effect for as little effort as possible, we suggest skipping exfoliants altogether at least for the holidays.

  • Drink lots of water and fluids for their hydrating properties.
drink water

Self-tan that lasts relies a lot on the hydration level of the body. As much as it’s fun to sip one cocktail after another, make sure to drink your required amount of water in between (increase this if you’re in a humid vacation place). While the Bondi Bodz self-tanners are chock full of hydrating ingredients, replenishing the body’s natural hydration system is still the best to maintain a beautiful glow.

Skin Care to Maintain a Golden Glow

Gradual tanning products can provide the natural colour and sunkissed glow you dream of. The level of glow depends on the tanning products used and how often it is applied. Don’t forget to apply your gradual tanner in a circular motion with a proper tan on application mitt to ensure you get a flawless glow. 

Finally achieving a full-body glow is possible with a top everyday glow lotion or mousse. 

With these tips, you’ll plow through one party after another with an amazing glow. Happy glow-holidays!

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