Applying sunless tanner can result in a stunning sun-kissed look — or an orange, streaky mess that’s obviously unnatural. Perfecting the technique of self-tanning takes time and practice. Streaky spots, awful smell…self-tanner comes with some not-so-pretty side effects. If you do not know the right way to self-tan, you can make a lot of undesirable mistakes! But even if you do make mistakes, it’s totally OK. Self-tanner is not permanent, and can be exfoliated away so the world will never know you were an orange, splotchy mess for a couple of days. But to ensure you don’t have to stress about that in the first place, here are seven common mistakes to avoid:

SELF TANNING MISTAKES TO AVOIDMISTAKE #1: NOT EXFOLIATING: Self-tanner sits on the top layer of skin, it’s important to make sure that top layer is not dead skin cells that will flake away and leave you with an uneven tan. Try a hydrating scrub that won’t dry out the skin so you don’t have to heavily moisturize after your shower. Too much lotion can also mix unevenly with your self-tanner causing streaks.

MISTAKE #2: NOT USING A MITT: If you use bare hands to apply your self-tanner, you’re more likely to end up with them than if you were to use a mitt. Mitts ensure more even coverage (and cleaner hands), so always use one to apply mousse or cream tanners, or to buff out spray formulas.

MISTAKE #3: NOT WASHING HANDS: This is the most common mistake girls make! If you prefer to use your bare hands though, make sure to wash them between each section to help avoid those dreaded orange palms.

MISTAKE #4: NOT RUBBING PROPERLY AND COMPLETELY: If you use a colourless formula, it can be hard to tell if the product has been rubbed in evenly. If you’re unsure, try a coloured formula so you can see more easily any areas that might need further attention.

MISTAKE #5: NOT REMOVING MAKEUP: Before applying sunless tanner to the face, always cleanse thoroughly to ensure a natural-looking application. Remove all makeup with a cleanser or makeup remover. Some experts even recommend an extra step of using a toner to clear away any lingering impurities like makeup or oil.

MISTAKE #6: SELECTING THE WRONG SHADE: Not all shades of self-tanner are created equal, and every skin tone demands a different colour to achieve a natural look. For instance, a formula intended for medium-dark skin tones won’t look natural on fair-skinned individuals. No two skin tones will react identically to the same tanning formula. That’s why you should always test a small amount of the product on a patch of skin to see what colour develops before applying from head to toe.

MISTAKE #7: NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO TRCKY AREAS: Knees, elbows, hands, and feet cannot be treated the same way as the rest of your body. To make sure these areas don’t end up looking darker than the rest of you, there are two options. The first is to mix in a little moisturizer with your tanner so these areas are not hit with the same concentration as the others. The other option is to tan these areas last with whatever product is left on your mitt.

MISTAKE #8: NOT ALLOWING THE PRODUCT TO DRY: After you apply self-tanner, wait as long as possible before getting dressed. Rubbing against any surface before the solution has dried can wipe away the colour. In fact, most experts suggest waiting even longer than advised by the instructions in order to ensure optimal colour.

Avoid these common self-tanning mistakes for a healthy and even self-tan!