How to Apply Sunless Tanner to Feet and Ankles

by Tabitha Harwell ; Updated September 28, 2017

The color of your feet should match the rest of your tanned body.

Hemera Technologies/ Images

Skip sitting in the sun and apply a self-tanner to achieve a sun-kissed glow all over your body. Using a self-tanner is the safer alternative to the harsh UV rays of the sun; however, to achieve a “natural” tan you will need to apply the self-tanner to all the areas of your body. The foot and ankle area will tan in the sun, but tanning them with a self-tanner can prove to be tricky if not done correctly. Work your way around this delicate area with the tanner and moisturizer to ensure a perfect, and even, tan throughout your entire body.

Exfoliate your feet and ankles before applying self-tanner. Like the rest of your body, your feet and ankles need to be smooth and free of dead skin. Mix together your own version of a sugar scrub with the sugar and olive oil in a dish. Apply the mixture to your feet, and ankles, and massage with your hands. Rinse the scrub off of your feet and dry thoroughly before applying a self-tanner.

Apply a thin layer of moisturizer to your entire foot and ankle area. The self-tanner will only coat the top of the foot, but coating the entire foot after a sugar scrub will lock the moisture and make your feet soft and smooth.

Squirt a nickel size of self-tanner and a pea-size drop of moisturizer into the palm of your hands and rub together. Apply the self-tanner to your ankle area, making sure to blend the self-tanner into the entire ankle area and work your way down into the foot area. The foot area will only contain the top. Do not apply self tanner to the heel, between the toes and along the sides of the foot. These areas are naturally dry and will soak in the self-tanner creating a visible line and discoloration. Repeat with the other foot and ankle.

Wash your hands and apply a dime-sized amount of moisturizer to your palms. Rub edges of the self-tanner on the top of your foot downward towards the sides of your foot, the toe area and the heel. You are only blending the self-tanner into your natural skin, not trying to tan the sides of your feet. Repeat with the other foot.

Remove any self-tanner that may have slipped onto the sides, toes or heels of the foot immediately. Once the self-tanner dries, look for spots that you may have missed or discolored. Apply a mixture of 1/2 self-tanner, and 1/2 moisturizer to correct any spots.


  • Do not wear socks or shoes for at least one hour after tan application. If you have sweaty feet, apply the tanner at night, before bed, to prevent the tanner sweating off during the day. Put baby powder on your feet to increase the life your foot tan.

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About the Author

Tabitha Harwell has been writing since 2008, with articles appearing in local publications and various websites. Her background includes a career in the fashion and beauty industry. Harwell holds a Bachelor of Arts in public relations.