Experts taught me how to even out my tan lines and I can’t believe how easy it is
Among the many talents I possess is an uncanny ability to get uneven tan lines in seemingly impossible spots with little to no effort: In my prom photos I had the imprint of someone’s hand on my back, a wave once splashed across my leg, removing my sunscreen and leaving a burn in the exact shape of the splash, and last summer, I sported triangle cutouts on my torso for the entire season because I forgot to reapply sunscreen. Though I feel ire whenever I look back at those photos and see where I missed with the SPF, I’ve never found a solution for those weird tan lines.
In the past, many people have suggested that I use self tanner to even them out, but I’m a little scarred from the one experience I had with this type of product. During the very same prom where I donned the handprint, I also got a spray tan. (No, the spray tan did not cover the hand print, unfortunately). I was 18, and I lived on Long Island; it was the thing to do. Yet now, I’m cursed by the ghost of my orange past whenever I look back at those images, and I’ve sworn to never be that person again.
Heading into this summer, I decided to change my tune a bit. I recently spent the day reading for no more than an hour outside and was left with the world’s most awkward farmer’s tan, and since I wasn’t going to be going to the beach and attempting to even it out anytime soon, I researched ways to get rid of my two-tone shoulders for when I decided to wear tank tops.
Shop it! $39.90, amazon.com
When I was given the opportunity to try Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam, I figured I didn’t have much to lose—I likely wasn’t going out to see too many people soon, and I had an exfoliator on hand in case the dreaded orange tint came back. Luckily for me, that wasn’t what happened. In fact, Tom Reynolds, Head of Brand at Coco & Eve, assured me that would be the opposite of what would happen. Because the bronzing foam has color-guide technology and a gray-green base, he explained that the formula would not come out patchy or Cheetos-esque.
I received two tools to help with application—the Soft Velvet Tanning Mitt Applicator and the Vegan Kabuki Self Tanner Brush. To test it out on my skin, I took the foam and sprayed some into the mitt before applying. It did remind me of a certain turd-themed smiling emoji, but it also smelled like a piña colada, so I was into it. I applied the foam liberally onto my arms, adding more of it to the glove when the color ran out to make sure I was getting an even tan. At first, the difference looked pretty dramatic—like a summer’s worth of tanning outside—and my arms were still two-toned, just a bit darker. But the instructions said to leave the formula on overnight and rinse it, so I did.
Shop it! $15.90, amazon.com
The next day, post-shower, the color calmed down a bit and I looked positively sun-kissed. I decided it was safe to apply the formula to the rest of my skin, so I went ahead and rubbed a bit of the foam all over the following night.
Reynolds had also given me some pointers on how to make tan lines fade, so I decided to take his advice. “It’s all about the buildable blend,” he said. “That means using a little self tan over time and building up until the tan line disappears.” To be more precise with application, Reynolds suggested using the Kabuki Brush on the places where I was unevenly tanned.
Shop it! $24.90, amazon.com
Because the tan lines on my arms were still a bit noticeable, I used the Kabuki Brush on the upper parts that remained pale and didn’t add the tanner to the rest of my arms. St. Tropez skin finishing expert Sophie Evans also suggested that I add moisturizer on the area of my skin where the tan line was severe to prevent it from getting darker (pro tip: If you do this too, do it with gloves on). After another rinse the next day, the uneven tan lines faded.
Why hadn’t I tried this sooner? I thought, cringing at my mosaic of awkward tans from years past. While it took me a hot sec to get used to how the tanner looked on my face—I also applied it there using the Kabuki brush—a few washes calmed down the slightly dramatic bronze tone into something more natural-looking that I really like.
I will caution, though, that the tanner will fade, and if you have an exfoliating body wash, you will get some weird patches on your skin. That said, reapplication has helped even me out. I may not be a full self tanning expert, but now I know a little bit of bronzing foam and some cleverly placed moisturizer will fix any inevitable future tan lines.