woman standing in bikini image by Francois du Plessis from Fotolia.com

More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the American Cancer Society. The threat of skin cancer is enough for many sun worshipers to forgo the sun and opt for self-tanning instead. Self-tanning lotions have improved considerably over the years, and it’s now possible to get a natural-looking tan from a bottle. However, areas such as the chest and breasts are typically more difficult to self-tan than others.

Clean and Exfoliate Skin

It’s best to thoroughly clean the skin with soap and exfoliate with a loofah or scrub before applying self-tanning lotion. If not, the self-tanner will color patches of dry skin and create a discoloration once the dead skin cells are sloughed off. Another good idea is to apply a thin layer of moisturizer to your chest and breasts before putting on self-tanner. Exfoliating and moisturizing will soften or eliminate dry patches and decrease the chances of discoloration around your breasts.

Avoid Nipples

Self-tanning lotion creates an odd discoloration if applied to your nipples, due to its uneven surface. Avoid the entire nipple area if you’re breast-feeding—the chemical ingredients in many self-tanning lotions can harm infants. It’s simple to avoid your nipples while applying self-tanning lotion to the breasts: simply take extra care to avoid the area. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to each area if you’re worried about accidently getting self-tanning lotion on your nipples.

Spread Evenly

Apply self-tanner like you would a normal body lotion—use a small amount (enough to cover the breasts) and rub it in thoroughly with long, circular strokes. Don’t use too much at once—you won’t get darker by putting too much on. You can always add more later if your chests and breasts aren’t as tan as you’d like.

Let Skin Dry Thoroughly

Self-tanning lotion takes a while to absorb into your skin and completely dry. If you put on a bra and clothing immediately after applying, you run the risk of staining your clothes and ruining your tan. A good rule of thumb is to apply self-tanner at night so you have more time to let it dry. If waiting hours isn’t an option, speed up the drying process by standing in front of a strong fan until you’re completely dry.