the ultimate self tanning guide
Okay y’all, one of my most highly requested posts comin atcha today! I am breaking down all of my favorite self tanning products, when and how I use each one throughout the year, as well as my current self tanning routine! First, I want to share a little background about my history with tanning – both in the sun and sunless tanners.
Up until about 2 years ago, I rarely used self tanners. I naturally have an olive skin tone and tan really easily in the sun. So when we went to the beach I would just lay in the sun all day and get super tan haha or we’d go to the pool alot. Fast forward two years and that’s not very realistic or desireable to me anymore! When we go to the beach or the pool, I’m working to keep Shiloh in the shade and keep her happy…not laying on a lounge chair getting tan haha. Also, I’m 29 years old now and trying really hard to take good care of my skin and the sun is definitely your skin’s worst enemy when it comes to aging. However…I LOVE being tan and definitely feel way better with some color! So I’ve made it my goal to find the best self tanners, and want to share those with y’all today!
You by no means need each one of the products I’m sharing today! I use them all for different reasons / at different times of year. Feel free to just read about each one and then decide which one would be best for you!
isle of paradise drops (also available here)
Y’all have heard me rave about these for months and months now (and I did an entire blog post about them here), so I won’t go into too much detail or explanation about these. The blog post I just linked will give you a very detailed description and instructions on how to use if you are curious. ANYWAY. I love these drops for so many reasons. They are super convenient because you just mix a few drops in your everyday body lotion and apply to your skin. You don’t have to worry about it being streaky or splotchy and it gives you a really beautiful, natural glow + color. Personally, I don’t love to use these in the summer because I don’t find they give me enough color to be SUMMER tan. (But again, I’m naturally pretty tan so if I’m going to use a self tanner in the summer, it needs to have a lot of color to it). I think these drops are great to use though in the fall/winter months, or if you’re just wanting more of that natural glow look!
Best for: the convenience-seeker, looking to get some color + a natural glow
I think I’m really late to the game in discovering this product…but I just started using it a few weeks ago and my world was forever ROCKED! This is a product you apply while you’re still in the shower (after you turn the shower off). It’s a lotion with a self tanner in it that you apply it to wet skin and it just soaks right into your skin. Then you towel off like normal and go about your day – with hydrated + glowy skin! It doesn’t smell like self tanner at ALL. It has a very subtle scent to it but it smells amazing (i can’t think of how to describe the scent lol other than its good). The color is buildable so you might not notice it right away. I use this product everytime I shower. It’s not splotchy or streaky and it’s like killing two birds with one stone. OH and it’s less than $10!
You could definitely make this your only self tanner product if you’re not looking to get “super tan”. I think it gives a decent amount of color, but it also makes your skin feel and look amazing. I personally use this in conjunction with other self tanners (like a mousse). Self tanners tend to stay on longer if your skin is moisturized, so I think this product can actually extend the length of your self tanner.
Best for: the lazy self tanner (someone who doesn’t want to put a lot of thought + effort into a self tanning routine) and the budget-conscious girl! Under $10!
I think this is my OG self tanning product that has stuck with me for years now. This is a self tanner (the dark color) that I love to wear in the summer months when I want to be TAN. It has kind of an olive undertone and gives great color. I apply with a tan mit and don’t find it to be streaky at all. It has a slight self tanner scent to it but not strong at all.
Best for: getting your summer tan ON! great color!
This is the most recent self tanner I’ve added to my collection and I’M OBSESSED. This is what I’ve been wearing recently (and what I’m wearing in these photos). In the summer, I wear this in the color ‘dark’, and this is another great self tanner if you’re wanting a lot of color (ie: if you’re going to the beach, or if you’re naturally already pretty tan like I am. although, I’m sure you could get it in the medium shade if you don’t want to be TOO dark). I’m so obsessed with this self tanner because it’s the first one I’ve ever tried that actually has bronzy undertones. The undertones are not green and they are not orange…they’re just the perfect bronze shade. I also love it because it doesn’t smell AT all, and it develops within two hours! This is currently my go-to self tanner for summer.
Best for: achieving that perfect summer bronzed look! Great color + bronze undertones
This product isn’t necessarily a “self tanner” because it washes off, but I wanted to include it in this post anyway because it does make you look tan haha. If you’re not into self tanners, this is an awesome alternative that literally makes your skin look airbrushed smooth. It’s perfect if you have a date night where you’re wearing a little black dress or mini skirt, or an outfit where you’re showing some skin and want your skin to look flawless. This product will make your skin tan and glowy and so smooth. But, it does wash off in the shower in my experience! So it’s kind of a “one time use” type of thing when you apply it. (But the bottle will last you a VERY long time. A little bit goes a long way).
My current self tanning routine
I don’t have self tanner on all the time. But, when I want to apply it, here’s what my routine looks like:
- The day before I apply my self tanner, I exfoliate my body and shave. I have been LOVING this cocoa body scrub. It smells and feels AMAZING on your skin and definitely gets the exfoliating job done! You want to remove all dead skin cells and/or any old self tanner you have left on your skin before applying new self tanner.
- After exfoliating and getting out of the shower, I apply my favorite body lotion so my skin is clean, prepped, and nice and moisturized! Hydrated skin will hold onto the self tanner longer than dry skin.
- The next day, I apply my self tanner (currently using the loving tan self tanner)! (You shouldn’t apply lotion on the same day you’re applying self tanner, so the day you apply self tanner, don’t put lotion on beforehand). I bought this applicator mitt to apply the self tanner with and LOVE it. It makes the self tanner go on so smooth without any streaks.
- Let it dry for about 2 minutes before getting dressed.
Once the self tanner is applied, it usually lasts me about 3-4 days. So, I do not exfoliate my skin over these 3-4 days, and I use the Jergens wet skin moisturizer everytime I shower to keep my skin hydrated and also add a little boost of color!
These are the most commonly asked questions I get about self tanners:
- Do you apply it to your face? I personally do not. I’m sure you can and I know girls who do…but I have sensitive skin and don’t want to risk a breakout or putting non-helpful ingredients on my face.
- How do you apply it to your back? I don’t. I try and reach back and get as much as I can, but my back is just pale lol
- Are these safe for pregnancy + breastfeeding? I’ve done my research + talked to my doctor and personally find them to be okay for pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, everyone has different opinions on this matter so I suggest doing your research and talking to your doctor!
- How do you apply it to your hands? Depends on which self tanner you are referring to. But typically, I will just make my hand kind of like a claw, and then apply the self tanner with the mitt on to try and get in between all of the crevices in my fingers haha. But I do this when there is a very small amount of self tanner on the mitt.
Whew! I think that about covers it all! Hopefully y’all found this helpful and now know which product would be best for you! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below. Thanks for reading!