Self Tanning 101

Can someone tell me how it's almost July? Because I swear it was literally APRIL like, 18 seconds ago. 

Anyway, for Friday Favorites today I wanted to share with you guys my favorite (and not so favorite) self tanners. I feel like this post has been a long time coming with lots of trial and error. At this point in my life, I consider myself KIND of an expert when it comes to self tanning just because I've tried SO many on the market right now. Honestly, there is nothing to be scared about when it comes to self tanning, if you hate it when it's applied, it will typically come off with some exfoliation in your next shower. One of you guys also gave me some great advice about using baking soda to remove a botched tan.

So below I'm going to answer some questions I get asked a TON about self tanning and also share my personal experience with you! I made the mistakes so you don't have to.;)

What Self Tanners have you tried?
There are so many different types of tanners! The 1st one is foam, the second is lotion and the third is the spray! 

I have used a large assortment of different self tanners, including many drugstore brands, I have tried the L'oreal Sublime Spray, and towelettes. Jergen's gradual tanning in shower lotion and Jergen's Dark Tanning Foam {loved that!} , Loving Tan, Fake Bake, Tarte, and most recently, St. Tropez. Of all of the ones I tried, the L'oreal Sublime Spray was the only one that gave me an orange hue. Loving tan left me splotchy and faded quickly. Fake Bake left me feeling sticky. 

Do you have to use a mitt when applying self tanner?

I've had several people tell me they use gloves, makeup brushes, and even their hands to apply self tanning lotion. I have ALWAYS used a mitt! I've tried applying with my bare hands and also with gloves but neither give me the result that I want from a self tanner, and using my hands is messy. The mitt provides a soft, even application. I apply the self tanner to the mitt, and apply it in large circular motions all over my body. I've NEVER been blotchy after using a mitt. I always just wash and reuse mine after each application. Here is a cheap one you can grab for multiple uses, here.

What is your favorite drugstore brand of Self Tanner?

I was really impressed with the Jergen's Instant Foam Moose.. It went on smoothly, didn't leave me orange or streaky, and gave me a nice light tan. For the price point it did the job! My only complaint is that it faded sort of blotchy and didn't get me as dark as I usually like. It also didn't last long (about 3 days.) It's a great option if you're on a budget and want to experience with self-tanning! 

What is your ALL time favorite Self Tanner?

After trying several high end brands I can honestly say that I'm still in 
love with the Tarte Brazilliance Plus+ Self Tanner. It gets me SUPER dark, even when I'm pale. So it's perfect for vacation! It also holds up really well with swimming and salt water. It fades evenly, leaves my skin feeling moisturized and doesn't leave behind a strong odor. 

You can find it here.

I also really love the St. Tropez Express Spray! It would be great to take on vacation to touch up a botchy or fading tan mid-week. It also gets you SUPER dark in under an hour! Doesn't leave a strong odor and and applies evenly. I spray myself first, then rub it in in small circles with a mitt. I usually ask Nick to get my back but I will sometimes attach the mitt to a back scrubber and it works pretty well.

You can find it here.

Now for the fun part, Are you ready to get your tan on?!

Shower, Shave and exfoliate the night before you plan to self tan. You want the tanner going on CLEAN, DRY skin. I exfoliate the night before with (this) using a loofah.  DO NOT use lotion the day that you plan to tan, the tanner will streak and appear blotchy in spots. You can hydrate AFTER you shower after the tanning application. 

My favorite exfoliation treatment is this one! From Sol De Janerio here! Smells so good!

2.  Apply your tanner liberally to the mitt. You should ALWAYS use a mitt if you want a soft natural looking tan. 

3. I like to start with my legs, working my way down to my calves, and feet. I use small circular motions to apply. Then I will do my arms, starting with my upper arm, and moving to my lower arm avoiding my elbows. After I apply the lotion to my entire arm, I'll move the excess lotion lightly over my elbows, knees and inner wrists. Then I move to my sides, stomach and back. Finishing with my neck, this is where it gets tricky. I will take the lotion all the way up my neck and even a little under my chin but I don't do my face. Making sure to blend really well. 

4. After the application process, I will take a baby wipe along the spot where my inner wrist meets my palm, and the bottoms of my feet. 

5. Once your whole body is covered you should be able to see where you should take your mitt to blend a little more, this is where the mitt comes in handy because you can just rub it along the spots you think need a little more attention or over any spots you missed during your first application. You shouldn't have to apply anymore self tanner, just blend what's on your mitt into the spots you feel like you missed.

 You do NOT apply multiple layers at once. 

6. After I apply self tanner, I wear a robe for about 30 minutes while the lotion sets and drys. Also, be careful about transfer and letting your skin touch any fabrics (note: don't sit on your white bedspread.) Then I'll put on loose fitting clothing, usually comfy shorts and a t-shirt for an extra 2 hours while the tan sets. I usually wait about 4 hours before showering. It will appear that most of the tan comes off but that's normal. The product has already set into your skin and this point and the dark color is just excess. After you shower you shouldn't experience any transfer. 

Here's a little behind the scenes peek at my tanning session via Instagram stories yesterday! 

So, that's it! I'm linking my favorite self tanner's and products below for you to check out. As always, if you have any questions about self tanning or the process, let me know and I will add them to this post! I hope you found this helpful! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and say "hey!" If you liked this post, drop a comment below!


  1. You take your self tanning fame seriously! And it works for you!

  2. H! When you wipe your wrist and feet, is this to wipe it off?

  3. I've just tried L'Oreal Sublime only on my legs using your tutorial as in the past I've had streaks and looking orange. I think it worked out good but posted it on my instagram for friends to comment!

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