How to Self Tan Legs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Achieving beautifully bronzed legs without the harmful effects of UV rays is easier than ever with self-tanning products. However, to get that perfect, streak-free tan, it's important to follow a proper application process. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to self-tan your legs for a flawless, sun-kissed look.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Before you start, make sure you have everything you need:

  • Self-tanning product (such as Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs)
  • Exfoliating scrub or mitt
  • Moisturizer
  • Latex gloves or a tanning mitt
  • Makeup remover wipes or damp cloth
  • Loose, dark clothing

Step 2: Prep Your Skin

Proper skin preparation is crucial for an even tan. Follow these steps to ensure your legs are ready:


Exfoliating removes dead skin cells, ensuring a smooth surface for the self-tanner. Use an exfoliating scrub or mitt to gently scrub your legs, paying extra attention to rough areas like knees and ankles. This helps prevent patchiness and streaks.


If you usually shave your legs, do it after exfoliating. This will provide an even smoother surface for the self-tanner to adhere to. Shaving also helps remove any remaining dead skin cells.


Apply a light moisturizer to your knees, ankles, and any dry areas. These areas tend to absorb more product and can look darker than the rest of your legs. Moisturizing helps to even out the absorption of the self-tanner.

Step 3: Apply the Self-Tanner

Now that your skin is prepped, it’s time to apply the self-tanner.

Use Gloves or a Tanning Mitt

To avoid staining your hands, use latex gloves or a tanning mitt. This also helps to apply the product more evenly.

Apply Evenly

Shake the self-tanning product well before use. If you're using a spray like Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs, hold the can about 6 inches away from your legs and spray evenly. For lotions or mousses, dispense a small amount onto the mitt or your gloved hand and start applying in circular motions.

Start from the Bottom

Begin applying the tanner from your ankles upward. This ensures you cover every part of your legs and avoid missing any spots. Blend well around your knees and ankles to prevent dark patches.

Use Sparingly on Problem Areas

Use a little less product on knees, ankles, and feet, as these areas can become too dark. You can blend any excess product from the rest of your legs onto these areas.

Step 4: Let It Dry

After applying the self-tanner, allow your legs to dry completely before getting dressed. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes. Stand or sit in a cool, dry area and avoid bending your legs excessively to prevent creases.

Step 5: Post-Application Care

To make your tan last longer and look its best, follow these tips:

Wear Loose Clothing

Wear loose, dark clothing after applying the self-tanner to avoid rubbing off the product and to allow it to develop properly.

Avoid Water and Sweating

Try to stay dry for at least 4-6 hours after applying the self-tanner. This means avoiding water, sweat, and any activities that might cause you to get wet.

Moisturize Daily

Keeping your skin moisturized helps maintain your tan and prevents it from fading unevenly. Use a gentle, hydrating lotion daily.

Exfoliate Gently

After a few days, gently exfoliate your skin to help the tan fade evenly. Avoid harsh scrubs that might remove too much product at once.

Tips for a Flawless Self-Tan

  • Patch Test: If you’re using a new product, do a patch test on a small area of your skin to ensure you don’t have any adverse reactions.
  • Gradual Tanning: If you’re new to self-tanning, consider using a gradual tanner to build up your color over a few days. This can help you avoid applying too much product at once.
  • Blend Carefully: Pay close attention to blending, especially around joints and edges. Use a makeup sponge or a damp cloth to blend any excess product.


Self-tanning your legs can give you a gorgeous, sun-kissed look without the risks associated with sun exposure. By following these steps and taking your time with the application, you can achieve a smooth, even tan that enhances your natural beauty. Whether you’re preparing for a special occasion or just want to enjoy a bronzed glow, mastering the art of self-tanning is a valuable skill that can boost your confidence and keep your legs looking fabulous year-round.