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ESC, Self Tanner Youre Doing it Wrong Top Image

For a few years in the early aughts, when it came to sunless tanning blunders, celebs were just like us; many stepped out orange-hued, with streaky limbs or ruddy-looking faces—thanks to battles lost with a bottle of self tanner. Today, the advancement of expensive spray tanning treatments have helped celebs create a believable UV-free tan. 

As for the rest of us? Unless we roll with deep pockets and a faux tanning expert on speed dial, many of us still succumb to the same faux pas that befell our favorite celebs.

Since research shows that more than 90 percent of the visible signs of skin aging are caused by the sun, and the UV radiation used in indoor tanning beds is a proven carcinogen, according to the National Toxicology Program Report on Carcinogens, we're sticking with self tanner for summer—but not without a little help from a Hollywood self-tan expert.

To replicate the the perfectly golden, iconic Hollywood tan sported by the biggest of A-listers (without the streaks or skin cancer risks) we tapped the aptly-named Katrina Brown—a self-tan guru and St. Tropez skin finishing expert who tends to the sunless tans of stars like Denise Richards, Nicole Scherzinger and Sarah Hyland—for a few pointers.

Prep your skin: Brown suggests exfoliating skin the day before applying self tanners. "This allows for an even, bronzed application," she said.

Avoid orange: When the quest for skin that radiates a just-got-back-from-Cabo glow renders a tone more in line with Oompa Loompas, it's likely because the wearer is over applying product or choosing the wrong shade for his or her skin tone. "I suggest using a color two-to three shades darker than your natural skin tone in order to achieve luminous skin that doesn't read like fake tan," Brown says. 

Jennifer Aniston

Mike Marsland/Getty Images

Keep it clean: Oftentimes, those who apply self tanner can develop a grubby tinge to the skin, instead of a golden, Jennifer Aniston-style tan. "A product with too much bronzer in it may result in a dirty shade," Brown said. Another habit that plays up the girlfriend-needs-a-bath effect? Applying makeup over self tanner; ease up on the bronzer, tinted moisturizers and contouring makeup to retain a believable glow.

Banish patches: The biggest giveaway that a tan is fake? Patchy wrists, elbows, ankles and palms of the hands Brown reported. "Remember to apply a barrier cream (also known as a pre-sunless moisturizer) to these hot spots before applying tanner," she said.

Jennifer Lopez

RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Smooth it out: Creating a seamless self-tanning look requires major buffing and blending. Follow an application of tanning mousse or lotion with a plain moisturizer and blend away uneven spots for an even finish.


Achieve a red-carpet glow: To achieve a luminous finish, like Jennifer Lopez masterfully does on the red carpet, finish the look with a shimmering lotion, applied strategically. When prepping a celeb for a red carpet appearance, Brown dabs St. Tropez Skin Illuminator in Gold down the center of the legs, from the knee to the ankles. She then mixes the highlighting lotion with a body moisturizer and blends into décolleté and arms to finish the look.

This spring, make like a celebrity; avoid the sun and still come out glowing.