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How To Contour Using Self-Tanner

Contouring has become a common part of daily beauty routines for many — it’s an easy way to use makeup to define and highlight your face. The technique, however, often involves many different products, including cream foundation sticks, cream bronzers, liquid concealers, powder bronzer, and face powders. 

For those who want defined features with less effort, “tantouring” may be your best option. Tantouring, or contouring using self-tanner, blew up on TikTok this year. Users are sharing videos in which they apply self-tanner to the areas that one would typically contour, such as the cheekbones, jawline, hairline, and sides of the nose.

There are dozens of videos on TikTok with step-by-step instructions for how to use self-tanner for contouring. Try this video from user @imonaugust: 


Reply to @userihpmfafmno because so many of you asked how I do it/ what products I use 🤎 #tutorial #beauty #tanning

♬ So My Darling (Acoustic) – Rachel Chinouriri

Or, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Choose a self-tanner

There are dozens of self-tanners on the market. It can be hard to know which one is right for your skin. 

“If you enjoy having both product types in your routine, opt for a self-tanner with neutral tones to add warmth and dimension to your skin. If you want to go the bronzier route, choose a self-tanner with warm undertones. And if you’re only after creating a long-lasting contour, choose a self-tanner with green or cool undertones,” wrote Byrdie

Here are some products recommended by beauty brands and TikTokers who have jumped on the self-tan contouring bandwagon: 

You can pretty much use any product you like; facial self-tanners and body tanners use nearly identical formulas.

  1. Wash and exfoliate your face

For the best results, start with skin that’s clean from any other makeup, residue, oil, or dead skin. Take off any makeup you may be wearing and exfoliate your face. TikTok users recommend not washing your face after you apply the self-tanner for at least 4-6 hours, or overnight, to allow the color to deepen. 

  1. Create a base glow

The key to avoiding looking streaky (or clown-like) is to start with a base glow, especially if you’re doing this during the winter. Use a Beauty Blender to apply a thin layer of tanner all over your face, neck, and decolletage, making sure to blend it evenly and immediately. 

  1. Contour away!

Then, use a contour brush or your fingers to apply tanner to the areas you wish to highlight. Pro tip: If you choose to use your fingers, put Vaseline on your hands first to make sure you don’t stain your skin. Contouring is a skill in itself, and if you’ve never done it before, check out this guide for tips on where to highlight your face. Use a Beauty Blender to make sure it’s blended evenly where you want a little extra color. 

  1. Sleep on it

In four to six hours, you are all set.

If you mess up, don’t worry. Tantouring doesn’t last as long as a traditional body self-tan application. Your face goes through a lot during the day, so expect the tan contouring work you accomplished to last about three or four days. If you want to get it off sooner, you can use an exfoliator to tone down the result.  Or, if you love the effect, skip your normal exfoliator to make the results last longer.

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