How To Apply Self Tanner To Your Face Properly

Apply to Face Feature

By Ashlyn Noah
October 7, 2021

Everyone wants to have a flawless-looking tan, and thanks to self tanners, it’s easy to have a bronzed glow without the possible sun damage.

But no one wants a streaky face.

Applying self tanning products is a tricky skill to learn. You want the look of a gradual tan and applying the product to your face is entirely different than applying it to your legs.

Your face is harder to cover up if your bronzing goes wrong, so how should you make sure it’s flawless from the start? We’ve got you covered.

Here’s how to apply self tanner to your face for an even, natural glow. 

Best Self Tanners To Tan Your Face For Your Skin Type

Most of the leading sunless tanner products out on the market contain harsh chemicals or ingredients that you should stay away from for your overall health. 

If you have sensitive skin, then choosing a natural product can greatly benefit your skincare health and routine!

Natural self tanning lotion can help you get a golden glow while also helping reduce dry skin that can come with actual sun tanning.

When you choose a sunless tanner to start applying, you should carefully select a natural self tanner that will match your skin tone and give your skin natural help. 

Since you are applying the self tan to your face, you should select a shade that accurately matches your skin tone and expected bronzer shade, or select a different method.

The face is more fragile in appearance compared to other parts of our body.

While most people use a lotion for the larger areas, there are sunless tanning spritzes or mousse specifically designed for your face that is oil-free to help with breakouts, and ensure your face does not turn out more tan than the rest of your body.

tan woman looking into the distance

Types of Self Tanners For Your Face

Since your face should work up a gradual tan, and one that looks natural instead of orange, looking for natural self tanners meant specifically for face tanning can be a good thing.

For instance, there are self tanning mist skin care products available to ensure you’re not caking on lotion and can help apply the tan more naturally. 

You’re likely careful to shield your face when you tan out in the sun or whenever you use a tanning bed, and self tan works the same way. 

Instead of protecting your tan from harmful sun damage, you’re protecting your face from looking like a streak-free Oompa Loompa. 

Application Matters

Other than making sure you choose the right shade and method for your face, sunless tanning on this area of your body requires different application strategies.

For instance, when you apply a self tan on your face, you should put on less than you will your arms and legs.

When you apply the sunless tanner on your skin, rub it in circular motions with a brush.

You likely use an applicator mitt when putting a self tan on the rest of your body. If you haven’t, start doing that to have a more even tan!

Instead of using an applicator mitt on your face, use a brush. 

The same type of brush you use to apply bronzer can work for applying self tanner. It will also help to spread the product evenly and work it well in your skin. 

You should blend the product into your skin well with your hands or brush until the product is perfectly buffed into your skin, then wash your hands to avoid any orange-looking hands. 

Don’t Forget Your Skincare Routine

Before you start applying your self tanner product,  you need to prep your skin!

The skin on your face needs to be prepped by your normal skincare before the sunless tanner is applied so the color can develop as well as it should.

For starters, your makeup needs to be completely removed before you apply any product.

To do this, use your make remover and then exfoliate your skin with an oil-free cleanser. Wiping away the dead skin cells on your face will help the product to absorb better.

If you have a roller or a cold washcloth, rub or roll your face to close your pores so the sunless tanning product does not seep in and clog your pores. This will help prevent breakouts from occurring later on. 

Do you struggle with pigmentation spots on your face?

If so, it’s an expert tip to apply a little bit of moisturizer to those pigmentation spots as well as your eyebrows so that the hair will not be discolored from the bronzer.

Use A Face Mask For Post-Tan

To keep making sure your tan spreads evenly across your face, you use a self tanner face mask the day after you apply the sunless tanning product to have even coverage.

A self tanning face mask also helps to hold the color on your face and to not let it fade where it looks splotchy and streaky.

Another reason why you should use a face mask is to keep up with the aftercare of your skin.

Self tans look the best when the skin is hydrated and taken well care of, so practicing this portion of skincare is important.

Cheekbones And Jawline Blending

When you apply your self tan, certain parts of your face will need special blending like your ankles and elbows.

This includes your cheekbones and jawlines.

​The jawline, if not blended correctly, can leave a harsh line and discoloration when it’s not rubbed out onto the neck.

The same goes for cheekbones; think of contouring.

You can actually apply your self tanner in the contouring method you use at your jawline and hairline to create a dimensional look. 

It also makes the blending part easier and more familiar. 

To apply a self tan to your cheekbones, it would be best to blend the product in with a brush we mentioned before. This ensures the product to be buffed in perfectly.

For your jawlines, rub in circular motions and extend the product onto the neck. Make sure you take the time to really work in the product since the underside of your jawline can buildup your self tan and leave behind an orange result.

Wait To Do Daily Activities

Before you apply your self tanner, make sure you have already brushed your teeth and finished eating or drinking for a while.

Just like the rest of your body, you need to stay away from water to have a streak-free finish.

Putting your self tanner on before you go to bed or work is your best bet at allow the tan to have ample time to soak into the skin and develop properly. 


Applying self tanners is difficult for beginners and those who have been using these products for a long time.

The face is a tricky and special area for self tanners since it’s the first part of your body everyone will look at.

Don’t forget that keeping your tan comes from hydrating, drinking plenty of water, and waiting to shower until your tan has set. 

Carefully selecting your self tanning face product and working in the product the right way will make all the difference when working up a natural, bronzed look.

Use our tan tips to apple your self tanner to your face for streak-free results and to always looked like you just got back from a gorgeous vacation!

Note: Want to give yourself an even, natural-looking sunless tan without exposing your skin to toxic chemicals, dyes or synthetic fragrances? Get Naru Organics self tanner and try the very first flawless self tan with no nasty ingredients. Learn more now!
naru organics self tanner

Ashlyn Noah

Ashlyn Noah is an author in the skin care industry.