Beginners Guide to Using Tanning Wipes




Hopefully you know by the now that tanning just isn’t good for your skin, whether you’re laying out on the beach or participating in some fake-n-bake at a tanning bed salon. Luckily, there are tons of lotions and sprays out there to help get some color on your skin without burning and damaging your body. Some Birchbox subscribers this month are even getting a chance to try out tanning towels, an unusual way bronze your skin. Read on to learn how exactly tanning towels work, how to apply, and other useful tips for total newbies. Plus, let us know in the comments how you like to tan in the summer time. Just make sure you’re wearing your sunscreen!



How do tanning towels work?

Much like most self-tanners, tanning towels use various chemicals to create a tanned effect on your skin. The active ingredient changes between products, but the most common – and most effective – ingredient is dihydroxyacetone, also known as DHA. DHA is a type sugar that, when it interacts with dead skin cells, creates a bronzed – hopefully not orange! – color. The tan lasts a week or two and will fade as the dead skin cells begin to fall off the body.


Tanning towels, of course, are different because instead of using your hands, which can become stained from the tanner, or a spray to apply, you simply wipe the towel across the area you want to tan. The chemical is absorbed in the towel also ensuring you don’t use too much product. The most difficult part of using towelettes is that you may have a harder time creating an even tan, especially once your towel starts to dry out. Make sure you follow prep instructions carefully and apply slowly. (Having a few extra wipes on hand doesn’t hurt, either!)





Of course, always check your product to see what prep they recommend, but the following is a general list.


  1. Start with clean skin, but avoid using anything with oil in it just before application. Skip your favorite face and body oil, and make sure you look at the ingredient list of your body wash, too. Oil will produce a thin layer over your skin and could stop the tanning process. 
  2. Exfoliate. Use your favorite exfoliator to help slough off any loose, dead skin cells. If you’re going to be using the towels on your legs, make sure you shave first. 





Make sure you read the label and follow their instructions, especially if they differ from the below.


  1. Choose the right tanning towelette for your needs. Most companies have separate towels for the body versus the face. Make sure you’re using the right type; otherwise, you might end up with too little or too much tanner!
  2. Beginning wiping the area you wish to tan in circular motions. Go slowly and carefully, and try to hit each area evenly. I like to go in small circles up and down my skin in vertical lines. It helps me make sure I hit all parts of my body.
  3. Allow for dry time. How long it’ll take for the product to dry really depends on the brand, but usually it only takes a minute or so.





To make your tan last as long as possible, trying following these steps.


  1. Wash your hands. Tanning towels won’t stain your poor fingers as much as a lotion would, but there will be some leakage. Washing your hands as soon as possible to avoid orange palms. 
  2. Wait four to six hours before getting wet. This may not always be mentioned on the packaging, but it’s smart to stay dry for a few hours post-application. You don’t want to accidentally wash off any stray tanning solution and get streaky.
  3. Moistruize daily. If you’re not already, make sure you’re applying moistruizer day and night for your fake tan to really last. Keeping your skin hydrated will keep dead skin cells from falling off faster. 



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Written by Courtney Brown

MakeupTalk Blogger