Whether using a sunless tanning lotion or sun tanning lotion, proper application elimnates blotchiness.

How to Put Tanning Lotion on So It Doesn't Look Blotchy

by Kimbry Parker

Achieving a glowing tan is something many people want, but often it turns out blotchy or uneven. This is usually the result of incorrect application of sunless tanning lotions, although outdoor tanning products can occasionally yield the same outcome. Such lotions should be applied properly and your skin should be prepped before application to ensure an even, blotch-free tan.

Sunless Tanning Lotion

Wash your skin prior to applying the lotion. Scrub with an exfoliating cleanser while you’re in the shower, paying special attention to ankles, elbows, heels and knees, which tend to have dry, rough skin. Dry your skin completely after showering.

Squeeze the tanning lotion directly onto the surface area you wish to tan. Be sure the amount is proportionate to the area being covered.

Work from the bottom of your body towards the top. Start by applying the tanning lotion to your feet and legs, then work your way up to your stomach, chest, shoulders and back.

Apply the lotion using broad, even strokes in all directions over your skin and only apply a thin layer. Add a few drops of moisturizer to the tanner prior to applying it to rough spots like knees and elbows, as they absorb more of the color and may be darker than the other parts of your body once the tanner has dried.

Let the tanning lotion dry completely -- usually about 10 minutes. Apply a second coat in the same manner. Allow that coat to dry thoroughly, then apply a third coat, if necessary to fill any blotches. Applying two or three thin coats of sunless tanning lotion, rather than one thick coat, prevents the lotion from streaking.

Outdoor Tanning Lotion

Shower prior to applying sun-tanning lotion. Scrub your skin with an exfoliating cleanser, paying special attention to rough areas of skin like the knees, heels, elbows and ankles.

Apply tanning lotion to dry skin at least 20 minutes before you plan to go in the sun to tan. This will give the lotion time to soak into your skin and give you proper protection from the sun while maximizing your tan.

Squirt the lotion into the palm of your hand, then rub your palms together. Smooth the lotion onto your skin in long, broad strokes. Make sure to overlap areas you just applied lotion to ensure no spot is missed. Exact measurement of the product is not important, but be generous with the lotion to make sure all areas of the skin are covered.

Apply the lotion to your arms, legs, stomach, chest, shoulders and face, then enlist a friend to apply the lotion to your back. Reapply tanning lotion to your body in the same manner after going in the water or about every two hours.

Items you will need

  • Exfoliating cleanser
  • Moisturizer
  • Bronzer


  • Use bronzer on your face rather than sunless tanning lotion. Your facial skin is oilier and has larger pores than the rest of your body, which often results in blotchy color when using sunless tanner.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using products with at least an SPF of 15 and one that offers UVB and UVA protection when exposed to the sun to help protect against sun damage and skin cancer.


  • Be especially careful when tanning outdoors between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. These are the hours of the day when the sun is the strongest and you are more likely to get a sunburn.

About the Author

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.

Photo Credits

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