How To Not Get Visible Tan Lines: 3 Quick And Easy Tricks

July 14, 2016 by Justine Schwartz
shefinds | beauty

If you’re headed to the beach this weekend (or just plan to park it in your backyard on a towel) you need to bring your A game to laying out. It’s not just enough to wear the right SPF and a hat–you also need to have a strategy for not getting really bad tan lines. That’s the quickest way to make a really cool mid-summer tan look like spring-break-gone-awry. That’s some JV-level performance, and I’m here to bring you up to Varsity.

(For the record, I’m a sun worshipper but wear a minimum of SPF 45 on my face and 15 on my body, reapply regularly and get my moles checked by the derm once a year–and so should you!).

Apply sunscreen in front of the mirror. Stand in the mirror (preferably naked) and watch yourself apply the sunscreen from your head to literal toe (seriously don’t forget your toes!). This is the most effective way to not miss any spots, aka get a really even tan. Otherwise you’ll forget places like under your bikini straps, behind your knees, around your eyes, etc.

READ MORE: The Right Way To Apply Sunscreen

Use a timer. Once you’re laying out, set the timer on your phone to flip sides every 20 minutes (from face up to face down, and vice versa). The timer is necessary because almost no one’s internal clock is perfect, plus it’s likely that you’ll fall asleep or lose track of time while laying there. Most people tan their front side wayyyy more than their back, which starts off as a subtle difference in color at the beginning of the summer, but by the end makes you look like a human black-and-white cookie. You can also use the timer to remind yourself to reapply sunscreen, which is absolutely necessary in keeping your color even.

READ MORE: 8 Places You Don’t Think To Put Sunscreen, But Should

Lift your limbs. One of the biggest giveaways of a bad tan is when someone has really white armpits or that thin white crease under the butt cheeks (also known as “tanning smileys“). This is totally avoidable, though, by simply raising your arms above your head or lifting your knees every so often while tanning. Movement is always a good idea when you’re getting sun. Being too still is a recipe for awkward tan lines (like, falling asleep with your arm across your stomach).

READ MORE: The 7 Best Drugstore Sunscreens 

Bonus tip: Untie those straps. Okay, this is where you need to not be a prude. The worst tan line sitch is giant halter straps on your chest. Untie those straps and let the sun shine where it um, don’t shine. What’s the worst that could happen–a little nip slip action? You’ll survive, and you’ll have a nice even tan to show for it. Just please for the love of gah, apply sunscreen under those straps before you go for it.

Was this article helpful? Let us know in the comments below or send your summer beauty questions to [email protected]

[Photo: Swell Mayde]


Editorial Director

Justine Schwartz is a veteran women's lifestyle editor; she's written extensively about style & beauty tips, health advice and wedding planning for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Huffington Post and New York Weddings. Justine has been with SheFinds since 2010; you can reach her via email at [email protected]

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