An Esthetician's 7 Tips For Perfect, Streak-Free Tanning Drop Application

No matter what season it is, for many, having a flawless tan is a staple in their beauty routine. While these self-tanning sessions typically occur during the summer season, many will also keep it going during the colder months as well. No matter when you self-tan, the most important factor any tanning enthusiast will tell you is avoiding a streaky application. Streaks in your tan will not only cost you time and money, but they will ruin the appearance of your look. There's nothing worse than spending all that time working on your tan, only to find out you have a missed patch in an obvious area. While this can be fixed later on, it's best to avoid these issues by applying your tanning products correctly the first time.


Like anything, your choice of tanning product will come down to personal preference. However, tanning drops tend to have an advantage over lotions, foams, or creams since they are better at giving you more control over the intensity of your tan than other products, making it easier to get the look you want. To get the best possible tanning drop application, Julie Koritko, a licensed esthetician and the owner of GlowPro Tans, told us in an exclusive chat how to get a flawless glow.

Keep it subtle

When using tanning drops, it's a good idea to stop yourself from using too much, as you'll risk getting an unnatural and streaky tan. Julie Koritko suggests going for a subtle glow, which will look more natural and will also be buildable. "Think subtle and gradual. Tanning drops are a DHA concentrate that turns your current moisturizer into a self-tanner," she exclusively tells Glam. "Because they're being mixed (i.e. cut) with moisturizer, you shouldn't expect as dramatic of color results as you would with regular self-tanner. Your expectations should be in line with a gradual tanner."


Unlike self-tanning lotions, tanning drops give you the ability to slowly build your tan to the shade you want. While many want to go a few tones darker from the beginning, tanning drops will give you just a hint of a glow that you can then increase to your desired color. A gradual tan like this is great for those who are just beginning their self-tan journey or who are simply looking to go a shade darker. This slow tanning process will make it easier to obtain your ideal shade.

Don't forget the face

Self-tanning your face is one of the most complicated aspects of tanning. Thankfully tanning drops make this issue easier to solve. Since the drops are mixed into your moisturizer, you can easily add them to your regular skincare routine. As Julie Koritko exclusively explains to us, "Tanning drops are *thee* way to tan your face! No matter how many steps are in your skincare routine, put the tanning drops in your thickest moisturizer." You can then rest assured that you'll get that glow you're wanting without having to sacrifice your usual beauty regimen. 


Other tanning products may cause issues if you have sensitive skin, but because tanning drops are added to your usual face moisturizer, they'll give you the color you want without having to worry about adverse reactions — so long as you apply it in your moisturizer only. "And notice I said moisturizer, and moisturizer only, for mixing the drops," reiterates Koritko. "Tretinoin users, I'm looking at you! For best results, incorporate them into your skincare routine two to three nights a week."

Use proper application

We've all seen countless videos and social media posts of users applying serum or other products directly from the dropper onto their faces. This slow drip from the face has become one of the most captured ways of showcasing face products. While there's no denying that it makes more of a picture-worthy moment, it's not the best way of getting an even and streak-free tan. "As aesthetic as it might look on TikTok, do not apply tanning drops directly to your face. Not only is there a 100% chance of it staining your fingers a horrible orange, this type of application will leave you blotchy and uneven," Julie Koritko told Glam in an exclusive chat. Even if you've previously tried out applying your skincare products this way with success, tanning drops are not an item you want to apply this way.


Avoid the problem of having to explain your orange-stained fingers and opt for a more sensible approach by using the tanning drops as directed and mixing the product in with moisturizer before applying. Washing your hands after will ensure your digits remain orange-free.

Be careful of staining

Although you can avoid staining your hands and fingers by washing your hands after applying your tanning drops, an easy way you can avoid dealing with any staining is by using lotion. Like barrier cream on your skin, lotion can give your hands some extra protection and prevent any discoloration. 


Applying a barrier of moisturizer to your hands before using your tanning drops/lotion concoction is a step that can't be overlooked. Be sure to focus on your palms, knuckles, and nails, as these are the areas that are most likely to become oversaturated with color. "Lotion = absorption barrier," Julie Koritko exclusively tells Glam. "Apply a liberal layer of lotion to your hands, paying special attention to your cuticles, if you're mixing the tanning drops/lotion in your hands. This way, if you experience any dripping or run-off, it is unlikely to cause unsightly staining. I still recommend washing your hands after applying the drops."

Slow and steady application

It's easy to underestimate how much a little product can go with tanning, but it's essential to start slowly. Adding too many tanning drops at once will cause patchy areas and an uneven tan. The key to getting a streak-free glow is patience and following the product's instructions thoroughly. In our exclusive chat, Julie Koritko explained that you want to start with one tanning drop at a time. Once you've applied a tanning drop into your moisturizer, mix the two well before applying any additional drops. "This will keep the drops from running between the cracks of your fingers and make the mixing process less messy," adds Koritko.


Because these drops give you a more gradual tan than other self-tanning lotions, you want to give your product some time to work before reapplying. Check out your results the next day and see how you feel. If you want more color, then feel free to do the process again. Remember that the more drops you apply per application, the deeper your tan will be. 

Proper post-tanning treatment

Taking care of your skin after applying tanning drops is as important as your pre-tanning routine. Everyone knows that you must prep your skin for any self-tanning procedure if you want to get an even application. However, what you do to your skin after applying your tanning drops is just as important. "Avoid sweating and water for at least six hours after applying, [though] eight hours is optimal. The tanner needs this time for the color to develop," Juile Koritko exclusively tells Glam. Because water can drastically alter the evenness of your tan, you want to make sure to wait before hitting the gym or taking a shower after applying.


After applying tanning drops, you may also want to avoid exposing your skin to fabrics that can make you sweat. While this step may be more challenging, especially in the warmer months, simply avoid fabrics in the areas that are currently going through the tanning process. If you've only applied to your arms or legs, for example, try wearing strapless and short garments to ensure that your tan is able to properly develop.

Pay attention to dry areas

One of the biggest culprits of uneven application and streaks is dry skin patches. Although everyone knows that exfoliating should be done before tanning, this won't necessarily take care of the areas that are prone to dryness. If you do encounter areas of rough or dry skin before applying your tanner, take care of these spots before putting on the product. Julie Koritko recommends using an additional layer of moisturizer on the area before applying your tanning drops. In more extreme cases of dry skin, you should reach for Vaseline or Aquaphor, which will prevent the color from overly saturating these spots.


Although the dry area might be smaller or seem insignificant before tanning, it's better to deal with it before it's too late. Koritko warns that lotion can be the difference between a flawless and uneven tan, exclusively stating to us, "This will prevent the area from absorbing the tanner and developing darker than the skin around it." While you may not notice the difference right away, dry patches can become very obvious once the color settles.