We’ve said it time and time again—sun-kissed skin is sexy but UV damage and skin cancer are not. But there’s good news: You can have your cake and eat it, too. Thanks to the amazing advancements in beauty products since the days of yore, there’s an ocean of products available to help you fake that gorgeous glow, without the hours of damaging sun exposure. Self-tanners are a must for any beauty cabinet in the summertime, but proper application is the key to ensuring you give yourself an even, long-lasting and luminous complexion.

Exfoliate From Head to Toe
To ensure that your new tan lasts as long as possible, take time to thoroughly exfoliate your entire body. This step may seem daunting, but its as easy as using an exfoliating body wash as you shower—we recommend Caudalie’s Contouring Crushed Cabernet Scrub or the deliciously decadent Brown Sugar Body Polish from Fresh.

 Take a Cold Shower
Once you’re done giving yourself a good scrub down, switch off the hot watch and give yourself a quick blast of the cold stuff. This is a critical step to close your pores back up and avoid clogging them with excess product. 

Pick Your Mitt and Apply
To get the best results from your self-tanner application, always apply and rub in using a mitt rather than your bare hand. This prevents streaking and promotes a more even application of the product—plus, it keeps your hands clean and color-free. Mitts are generally an inexpensive investment and when properly cared for can be used multiple times.

Let That Paint Dry
The penultimate—and perhaps most critical—step in giving yourself the perfect sun-free tan is letting it dry completely before putting on clothes and leaving the house.

Use Products with SPF
You’ve got your base layer tan done and dry, you’re ready to go! But, SPF is an essential final step to any beauty routine before going out for the day. And here’s the coolest part: Now, your daily dose of UV protection can prolong the life of your skin-safe tan, too. There is a wealth of body lotions containing both SPF and self-tanner that are calling your name, but our favorite is the tried and true Jergen’s Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer.