St. Tropez Spray Tan
Credit: Kin Cheung/AP Photo

This winter has been long (oh sooo long), and regardless of whether you've been lucky enough to escape to a beach for a winter getaway or not, chances are you're looking for a sun-kissed radiance to match your springy skirts. But when it comes to safe sunning—aka the glorious invention called self-tanning—we're always a bit wary: Achieving that envy-inducing Brazilian glow can be tricky (streaks, orange hands, the list goes on and on!) unless you know what you're doing.

So how do you achieve the perfect self-tan without it going awry? We turned to Sophie Evans, St. Tropez’s Skin Finishing Expert, who gives some of the sexiest bodies in Hollywood (Kate Moss, Elle Macpherson, Victoria Beckham, and Hugh Jackman are all clients) that bronzed bombshell glow from head to toe. Evans addresses the most common mishaps and how to avoid them:

How to you prevent that dreaded “I look orange” tan in the first place?Choose your products right! Always patch test a new self-tanner and see if you like the color. When you patch test a self-tan its normally better to do an area of about 3 by 3 centimeters [about 1 square inch] or more, doing a very tiny patch can appear darker than it would normally appear.

Also, don’t keep re-applying a self-tanner too often. If you keep adding more and more layers of tan the self-tan no matter how good it is will struggle to develop to a natural color. Two layers of self-tan application a week is enough for even the serious uber tanned.

What are some secrets to keeping yourself from getting orange hands and feet (and not ruining your mani)?Bare hands are not the way to go! Since the skin on the palms is tougher, thicker and more dry, a self-tanner will sink in and develop very quickly, leaving them dark orange. If you have to use your bare hands I suggest washing them every two minutes between limb applications—which is a bit of a pain. Use either tight fitting latex gloves or the secret weapon of the Tan Applicator Mitt. Simply leave your hands and feet to tan last, use a small amount of self-tanner residue and blend in the self-tanner over well moisturized hands and feet taking a baby wipe, wet wipe or cleansing wipe to wipe clean the palms and nails (which can stain yellow) of any unwanted staining.

Do you recommend going commando during the spray tan? Do most people?Yes. It will make your body look better. No white tan lines will equal a more slim and stream lined natural looking body.

We plan to spend a lot of time in the pool during our vacay. How do you make the tan last the longest?Always bring a light gradual self-tanner with you which will put the glow back into your tan that the sweat, chlorine, and excess rubbing of the skin has taken away. Exfoliate lightly every two to three days while your self-tanner is on. This will prevent any tan or color build up and ensure that your tan is always fading evenly.

People would not imagine how important it is to exfoliate while the tan is on. You must use a very gentle body polisher because it will not rip or tear at the skin and will keep the tan even as it starts to fade, which will naturally occur over the course of five to 10 days. Also because of tight clothing and excessive sweating due to exercise, certain areas will fade more quickly than others. A light exfoliation every few days will keep the color even and also prevent darker color build-up from regular self-tanner applications.