Christina Aguilera and her performance at Etta James' funeral on Saturday in California raised many questions about the odd brown substance dripping down her leg. Bloggers immediately called the substance blood or period blood while others believe it was a self-tan snafu running own her thigh and shin.

"Please god tell me this is self tanner running down Christina Aguilera's leg," one Twitter user wrote with a comical meme to accompany the post.

Us Weekly, however, dispelled rumors, identifying the substance as spray tan gone wrong.

"She sang her heart out...It was her proudest moment," an unnamed source told US Weekly of the singers heartfelt performance of James' At Last at the memorial service. "The sweat caused her spray tan to streak."

As the liquid began to dribble down her leg, Aguilera did not falter, aside from two subtle attempts to smear or wipe the streak away.

However, had Christina Aguilera used self-tan properly, the embarrassing leaky streak incident would have been eradicated.

So if you're planning to use a self-tanning product in the near future, whether it is for a major event like a memorial service broadcast around the world or just to gain a bit more color during the winter months, here is a how to guide for applying self-tanning products, which does require a ton of patience and routine maintenance, but can be easily done at home.

Choosing the Right Product

The most important step in self-tanning is to choose the right product for you. This requires that you know and understand your personal skin type. Not every person swears by the same self-tanner for this reason. Self-tanner typically comes in creams, gels, sprays, lotions and wipes. Creams and lotions are best for people with normal or dry skin. Gels are better for those with normal to oily skin, as it contains less moisturizing agents.

Your level of expertise and devotion must also be taken into consideration. Sprays, the quickest way to self-tan, should only be used by expert self-tanner appliers because if used improperly, can cause uneven streaking. Creams, lotions and gels can be blended using tools or regular lotion, but consume more time. Wipes are good for quick, on-the-go touch ups, but never for an entire application.

When choosing the proper color, don't strive for an end result. Self-tanning requires as much gradual effort as getting a natural tan does; you wouldn't burn yourself to a crisp so you shouldn't cake on a layer of self-tanner either. (If you are really pressed for time and need immediate results, make an appointment with a professional spray tan expert.)

Hence, you must choose the proper color for you. Some products are meant for those with very fair skin while others to enhance medium to dark skin. Always read the product information to determine the hue or do additional research online about the product.  Another beneficial tip is to make sure the self-tanner is tinted for application purposes. Not only will this provide a slight immediate result, but ensure even application as you can see where it is going. Also, choosing an oil-free product will guarantee less fading.


Aside from confirming that there will be no allergic reactions to a product, experimenting beforehand can greatly up the ante for the initial application to run smoothly.  This should be done in a place that can easily be hidden in case of error. The best lighting to experiment and apply in is natural sunlight or fluorescent, since they enhance glow exposing any flaws.

Preliminary Steps Before Application

First and foremost, you must establish an adequate amount of time to do the whole process; rushing self-tan applications is evident to everyone and can lead to embarrassment. The best time to self-tan is at night, about an hour before bedtime. This ensures that the product has dried properly and sets aside some well-deserved leisure time while drying.

Self-tanner stays best on freshly clean, exfoliated skin. Shower in lukewarm or cold water; hot water opens the pores of the skin more causing self-tanner not to absorb as easily. Make sure that any necessary shaving is done at this time, but preferably even earlier to avoid possible razor burn, which would delay application.

Exfoliating removes dry, dead skin cells on the surface, exposing healthier ones to soak up self-tanner better, enhancing and extending tan. This is best done with a loofah or rough sponge or cloth in quick, circular motions. The addition of a soap with exfoliating beads is an ideal compliment. Some people even use baking soda for exfoliation needs.

Get Rid of Alligator Spots

Moisturizing prior to self-tan application not only decreases the chances of unevenness due to rough patches of skin but can extend and prolong the life of a tan. While any moisturizer can be used, opt for one that is light and does not leave the skin greasy to avoid rub off. It is suggested to use moisturizers with DHA, or dihydroxyacetone, the main substance in self-tanners that react with the top, dead layer of skin to change its color. Au Courant Tan Maintaining Moisturizer with DHA is known to be the best but certain brands come with an accompanying recommended moisturizers., some with DHA. To editorialize a bit, my personal fail proof product over the years has always been St. Tropez Bronzing Lotion, but that's just me.

Pay particular attention to usual dry spots including: elbows, fingers, wrists, knees, feet, toes and ankles/heels. If they are not moisturized properly, self-tanner will turn areas with extreme dry skin orange and spotty.


Only after you have properly exfoliated and done the preliminary moisturizing can the actual self-tanner be applied. This can take some practice to master. Some people prefer to start at the feet and work their way up. Others start with the head first. This is all advisory and can only be determined by preference.

If you do not have access to an excellent self-tan remover which you simply rub between palms and then rub off with a moist towel, then wear protective gloves. Orange blotchy palms are the first giveaway to the art of faking a tan.

When deciding how much to actually use, less is always more. You can always add more to uncovered areas but you can't soak up excess tanner. The recommended amount is about the size of a quarter for every 10 inches of the body. The most effective way to use a cream or lotion is to slightly dilute it with the recommended or your favorite lotion; it gives a more subtle, even hue while providing less opportunity for error. If the color is not dark enough, a secondary application can be done. But take into caution that this gives more room for error and the possibility of looking fake.

When using cream, gel and lotion, the most important thing to remember is to not rub too hard. Also, if you do not rub enough, it will not go on evenly. Use your best judgment. With a spray, there should be no rubbing at all; sprays are meant for the savvy tanner or utilized by another person doing the spraying. The goal here is uniformity, but this is not always evident during application. Only when it finishes drying will mistakes be extremely visible.

The Aftermath and Fixing and Avoiding Errors

After application, do not put on clothes for as long as possible. Some lotions recommend 15 minutes while others recommend 30 minutes. You can tell by the consistency of your skin post-application when the best time to redress is. Definitely avoid contact with water and sweat after use. If skin is naturally oily, the use of baby powder lightly dusted on with a makeup brush eliminates errors due to sticky spots. Also, this can eliminate the bad smell that some self-tanners have.

If an appropriate allotted drying time after a successful application happens and all directions are followed, then there is little room for error. However, when in a careless rush or for a novice, errors can arise. Any spots immediately evident during application can be rubbed out with a dab of moisturizer or with a foam paint brush stick. Typical problem areas, like the elbows and hairline, could be eliminated if moisturized both before and after application.

Avoid any products with bleach and alcohol and anything used for acne, anti-aging, or hyperhidrosis as it will remove tanner, causing blotches. In addition, avoid any activities that can remove self-tanner from the skin,

Face the Problem

Most people experience the most trouble in the face region. It is advisable to purchase a separate face-recommended tan from the rest of the body. Also, since most people's faces are quite oily in comparison to their rest of their bodies, an oil-free self-tanner specially made for the face could be used every day to ensure a face tint that matches the rest of the body. Some people prefer to do it at night during the full body application while others prefer to use it in the morning as a substitute for makeup. Sprays are also slightly better for the face, as creams and lotions can be a bit too heavy and oily for the face. In addition, bronzers, a washable daily powder, can be used to highlight and darken the face if in desperation. Some people even use bronzer in addition to a self-tanner to make the face as dark as possible.

The Morning After

If chosen to apply around bedtime, the self-tanner will develop overnight and produce a bronze glow in time for the morning. Some people shower as early as 10 hours after application to remove excess products, but it is preferable to shower about 24 hours after applying. When showering post-tanning, do not scrub or rub dry unless you intend to remove your tan. An alternative to showering to fix any uneven stretches of skin is to gently rub lotion on the botched areas and it will fix the uniformity.

At this point the tan is ready to go. Besides intense exfoliation, which should only be done 1-2 times per week, the process should, at minimum, be repeated once a week with daily touch-ups to ensure a long-lasting tan. Some people, however, choose to do this every day or every other day to ensure a perfect tone. No matter how much time devoted to the application of self-tanner, tons of water should be drank and copious amounts of moisturizer should be used everyday in order to keep skin healthy and glowing.  Self-tanning requires a ton of patience and time set aside for maintenance so if you do not have both patience and time for a weekly routine, self-tan with caution or book an appointment with a professional.