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Bryan Barron, beauty expert and co-author of The Original Beauty Bible, is the Research Director for Paula’s Choice Skincare, where he has been for over 15 years. Bryan's experience in the cosmetics industry includes many years as a professional makeup artist, product research specialist, and skin care professional. Always at work behind the scenes and in the media, Bryan and his team strive to bring you the most accurate information on skincare and makeup so you can look and feel great.
It’s so frustrating: You apply a self-tanner for a gorgeous, faux glow only to find that your exfoliant — the one you rely on to keep your skin smooth, even, and bump-free — is waging war against your sunless tan. Can these two products coexist in one beauty routine? Yep!
It’s all about timing and frequency of application. Whether you exfoliate with a scrub, AHA, or BHA product, the trick is to do so right before you apply the self-tanner. That also helps ensure an even application. And, if you’re worried this will interfere with the action of the self-tanner, don't: If anything, the exfoliant will pave the way for the self-tanner’s active ingredient to work even better.
Apply self-tanner at night (allowing enough time to dry before getting into bed), and for the next two days avoid using any exfoliant. If you must, apply the exfoliant where needed, and once it sets, apply a thin touchup layer of self-tanner. Allow that to dry before applying any other skin-care products. By day three, your sunless tan will likely show signs of fading, so that’s the time to reapply your exfoliant, followed by another application of self-tanner. Sensing a pattern here?
Click through for my favorite exfoliants and self-tanners for a natural glow sans irritation.