Close this search box. is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Apply Self Tanner to Back: 6 Simple Steps to Follow

How to Apply Self Tanner to Back

So you’re all set for sunless tanning with your well-reviewed and reliable self-tanner. But as you slather it on, you realize you have NO WAY of making sure your back is completely covered!

Everything would be easier if you had someone to help apply or check, BUT WAIT! Because that’s not always the case.

If you’re looking for tips on how to apply self-tanner EASILY and achieve a FLAWLESS finish, then just keep reading our handy how-to guide for better tan skin.

Table of Contents

How to Self Tan: Featuring Your Back

How to Self Tan

Your back can be one of those hard-to-reach areas especially when you’re doing your self-tanning at home. However, it’s not an impossible task!

Exert some old-fashioned elbow grease, or utilize the tools you may have lying around:

Step 1: Find a Full-Length Mirror

If you can’t find a pair of extra eyes to help, you can do slightly better with a full-length mirror so you can see the whole expanse of your body from your neck to your feet.

Just stand and tilt your body to get a view of whether the self-tanner has been applied evenly or not.

Step 2: Choose a Spray Tanning Product

Self-tanning products come in many forms:

You can find them as sprays, creams, or lotions that are formulated to give you a “fake tan” that works the tan deep into the skin and stays longer than what you would get from a bronzer.

If you’re concerned about tanning your back, sprays are your best friend since they can reach further without the need to manually spread it around.

For delicate skin, we recommend choosing self tanner formulas for sensitive skin.

Step 3: Spritz the Mist

Not sure how to apply self-tanner that’s in SPRAY or MIST form? It’s easy:

  • Slightly bow your head.
  • Reach over your shoulder and while holding the bottle at neck level, spray a fine mist from side to side.
  • Then, bring your arm down until level with your stomach. Reach back again and spritz the mist on either side of your body.

Step 4: Finding It Difficult to Reach Over?

If you find yourself unable to reach over due to injury or disability, don’t worry! There are other ways to help you reach your back easily:

a. Use a Back Applicator

Back applicators are strips of fabric that can help you spread the tanner more evenly as it rolls across your back.

They are available in different styles and colors and cost less than $20. Not a bad investment, if you’ll be tanning regularly using self-tanners.

Not only are they convenient to use, but they also keep your hands CLEAN. You don’t want to spread the tanner around because some were left on your hands.

Don’t rub them too hard, however, to avoid leaving noticeable and uneven streaks of tanner.

b. Apply with a Self-Tanning Mitt

Some products also come with a tanning mitt made of material that allows you to achieve smooth application.

You can wear it on your hand much like an oven mitt, though you only need one piece and not a pair.

For hard-to-reach places like our back, try to find a tanning mitt that comes with a WAND attachment so you won’t need to overstretch your arm.

You can then use the mitt to BLEND the tanner after you’ve sprayed it on. This helps balance the tan color and prevents you from using too much product.

And if you’re using tanning mousse or lotion, pump a little product on the mitt. With circular motions, brush it around your back and whole body.

c. Make a DIY Brush

In the spirit of being economical, you don’t have to spend extra to self tan! It’s easy to find or CREATE an alternative back applicator or brush right in your home:

  • Just take a face towel and use that in place of a back applicator. Use a soft and gentle one so the tanner can be absorbed and applied smoothly.
  • For a DIY wand, a wooden spoon or spatula with a long handle should do the trick. Then, wrap your tanning mitt around the end of the wooden spoon, secured by a hair tie or rubber band.

Step 5: Check for Mistakes

Check for other areas you may have neglected to cover or harsh lines in a too-dark shade. The spinal area just above the shoulder blades is often overlooked since it’s a part we can’t reach very easily.

Your feet are another part that’s often overlooked for a tan. Imagine the horror when you slip on sandals and realize they’re much paler than your ankles!

Step 6: Let It Dry

When you’re satisfied with your work, put on some loose clothes and wait for at least SIX HOURS to dry.

Unless you use a self-tanner with a quick-drying formula, prevent the color transfer by avoiding skin contact with other furniture.

Moreover, try not to sweat by staying in a cool, well-ventilated place.

You can also speed up the process by applying talc-free powder or, if you’re in a REALLY big hurry, use a blow-dryer! Just be careful since the heat might do more harm than good!

Our best tip is to let it dry naturally so you get the best tanning results!

Pre-Self Tan Tips for Better Self-Tanner Application

Pre-Self Tan Tips

Now that your tan back has been taken care of, we’ve got a few more tips to ensure you achieve a flawless, natural-looking glow!

The bottom line for pre-tan advice? Keep skin firm and supple through EXFOLIATION and HYDRATION.

#1 Remove Those Dead Skin Cells

Dry patches of skin disrupt what could be a completely even coverage because when they absorb the self-tanners, they become blotchy tan streaks no matter how well you blend.

Exfoliate in the morning or evening before tanning to create a fresh and smooth base. Focus on typically dry areas like the elbows, knees, ankles, and feet.

Scrub these dry areas while you’re in the shower for a clean and quick way to exfoliate (but don’t scrub too hard!). Wash the dead skin away with some soap then rinse.

You’ll notice that the dead skin is mostly gone when your skin unveils a brighter glow.

#2 Don't Forget to Moisturize

After exfoliating, you also need to moisturize your dry skin. You just need a light layer of your favorite lotion or moisturizer on them. Remember, it’s the elbows, knees, ankles, and feet!

Make sure the moisturizer dries properly before you proceed to self-tan. Avoid oil-based lotions because they might cause the formula in self-tanners to break down.

All Set?

All Set

Applying tanner to your back is a mean feat so pat yourself on your (tan) back for doing a great job!

Tanning has been made easier with new and inventive tools. But even if you don’t have them, all it takes is a bit of creativity to extend your reach.

And to achieve that sun-kissed glow, remember to deal with dry skin by exfoliating and moisturizing early on. The moisture must have seeped into the skin, which is very different from just keeping it wet.

Gone are the awkward, uneven tanning mistakes. You now know how to do a professional-looking tan no matter the body part!

With our advice, your summer beauty routine has just been elevated as you unravel your body’s ultimate tan.

FINAL TIP: If you’re so over your tan, then you can also read through our article on How to Properly Remove Self-Tanner.

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.