Sunless Tanning! (My Self Tanning Routine)

I have been self-tanning for years. I started using self tanner when I was around 13 years old. I remember it was Spring break of 7th grade and I tried out a tube of Banana Boat self tanner and when I came back I told everyone I went to Florida. haha!! Since then, I’ve got hooked and haven’t stopped using it since. I’m talking about I’ve been applying self tanner every few days for the past 8 years. I never go without a tan. I’m so use to myself being tan, that I feel like I look strange and unlike myself without one!

My real skin tone is very fair, probably around NC15 in MAC terms. I take after my Mom’s genes as she is very fair (Nordic descent – the most susceptible to sun damage; burns in the sun) and my Dad is dark (Middle Eastern – tans easily). I do not tan easily. Infact, my skin doesn’t tan at all. If I lay in the sun for hours, I’ll either burn or nothing will happen. That’s one reason I don’t really do tanning beds either. It’s so hard for me to get a real tan. I’ve gotten tanning bed memberships a few times and went every day in the highest beds using the most expensive lotion with 20x bronzers. Stupid I know. I was only getting freckles on my face and a very faint tan on my legs, stomach and lower back. My chest, arms, neck and face were getting no color what so ever. So I gave up on tanning beds and accepted the fact that I have little to no pigment in my skin. 

So with that said, I’ve tried many tanning lotions over the years and found my favorite few.

From left to right: St. Tropez Auto Bronzant Lotion, St. Tropez Whipped Bronze Mousse, SUN labs ULTRA DARK Lotion, SUN labs ULTA DARK Mousse, SUN labs ULTRA DARK Spray and Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer for Medium to Tan skin tones.  

These are my favorites by which I use. St. Tropez and SUN are extremely similar, I can’t really notice a difference. They both give me a nice brown tan. I started purchasing St. Tropez a couple of years ago when I was watching Katie and Peter the reality show with UK model Katie Price and husband Peter Andre, and she was using St. Tropez Auto Bronzant and her tan looked amazing! After that, I had to buy it. I bought a huge 32 oz bottle and loved it ever since. 

I started purchasing SUN also a couple years ago when I was at ULTA wanting an amazing tan, so I picked up the most expensive one on the rack, which was SUN Labs and it has been my Holy Grail self tanner ever since. 

I don’t have too much of a preference on which formula I prefer.. I think using a mousse is the easiest and the fastest application. I’d prefer it, but like I said, It doesn’t matter to me. Sprays I like, but with aerosol cans, it tends to spray not only you, but your whole bathroom. So if you use a spray, make sure to wear some old slippers or flip flops and probably put a towel on the floor. Lotions I think take the longest because you really have to rub it in so its not streaky. With sprays and mousse, its just like water, and it seeps into your skin and doesn’t require too much rubbing. 

I’ve noticed with St. Tropez, to get the best tan, apply it on thicker than normally, and don’t rub it in, the more rubbing you do, the more streaky it will look. Let it sink into your skin. Apply it at night. You may look like a mud monster, but when you wake up it will be more even. And of course, when you rinse off the excess color guide. 

**Tip: When purchasing a self tanner, if it has a green tint to it, that means you have have a brown tan. Self tanners without the green pigment tend to be more on the orange side. 

Here is how I get my skin prepped for a self tan application! In the shower, I exfoliate my skin extremely well with body wash and an exfoliation glove. I am getting rid of my old tan (depending on how long it has been on for) and dead skin cells. This really makes your body smooth, and the perfect canvas for your self tanner. Exfoliation will also prevent ingrown hairs. In the shower, I’ll really concentrate on scrubbing my neck and chest, because I feel that’s the most important area to have an even tan. Then, I shave. Schick Quattro is the best! (I notice when I don’t shave, the self tanner sits in my pores and makes it more noticeable that I didn’t shave.)

From left to right: Exfoliation Gloves, Self Tanning Mitt, Any Large Brush.. powder brush or kabuki (you’re better off using a cheap one, because it will probably get ruined) and a Fan.  

FLAWLESS APPLICATION: Apply a small amount of product onto your brush. You will be first applying it to your face. Distribute the product all over your face with the brush. If you have too much product on your face, take the brush and wipe it a few times on a paper towel until its semi-dry and keep swiping your face so your face has even color. If you’re near a fan, put your face in front of the fan for about a minute. (The reason I’m doing my face first is because I want it to be the most dry. Sometimes If I go to bed with damp self tanner on my face, the color will never fully develop, or I will end up with streaks.)

Then, the next place I apply my self tanner is my legs. I take some product and put it on the self tanning mitt and rub it into my legs in small circular, fast motions and work my way up to my stomach and back. Use the same type of circular motions on your body. Work quickly, because tanning lotion dries quick, and if you go over it, it will cake and be uneven. 

I SKIP my feet. Then, I do the same thing to my neck, back of my neck and chest. If I want a deeper tan on my neck and chest, I will use the brush, as it applies the self tanner heavier. I will put a lot of product on the brush and distribute it all over my neck and chest. Then, I stand in front of the fan having it blow on high on my neck and chest. This will help the tanner from dripping, or drying extremely slow b/c of the amount of product you have on. Using the mitt will give you a slightly lighter tan. It’s also less time consuming. To get a deeper tan while using the mitt, you can apply the tanner with the mitt, and then do a quick spritz of spray over it without blending it. 

The last place I apply the tanner to is my arms. Why? Because I’m constantly moving around my arms applying the tanner to my body, and I don’t want to rub against anything to smear my tan. I do my chest right before it so when I apply it to my arms, I can blend it in my shoulders well since obviously your shoulders are next to your chest. I use the mitt and apply it to my arms, upper arms and shoulders. I SKIP applying it to my hands and fingers. I’ll let my tan dry for a few mins. Lastly, I’ll take my Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer and apply it to my feet and toes, and apply it to my hands and fingers. Then, wipe off my palms with an old towel and lightly wipe between my fingers. I always use Jergens on my hands and feet so I won’t have a really dark tan on my hands and feet, which makes it real noticeable that you’ve used self tanner. The Jergens gives you a soft tan, and it blends in very well with the darker tan from your wrist up. No streaks, no orange. 

Yay, done! 

  • Mix a little pigment or shimmer into your self tanner for an extra glow! I sometimes put a little MAC Reflects Bronze into my self tanner and I’m extra glowy!
  • The following day, use a shimmering body lotion. Applying lotion also maintains your tan for a longer time.
  • For extra shiny legs, mix a little olive oil in with your moisturizer and you’ll have sexy legs! (I do this all the time)
Have you tried any of these or others? Which self-tanner works the best for you?

26 thoughts on “Sunless Tanning! (My Self Tanning Routine)

  1. I am also a self tanning addict and couldn't live without my St Tropez, it gives such a natural colour. I have to say that the tip you gave about using a gradual tan moisturiser for feet and hands…I love it!Genius! I had never thought of that before…I will now be doing that! Thanks!


  2. I've used Too Faced & Bare Essentials. Too Faced is really only good for a quick touch up. The Bare Essentials is really nice though. It has a green undertone so you look brown. I want to buy St. Tropez, they sell it in a set on QVC for $40!


  3. Great post! I was thinking of getting the Sun Labs so I'll definately check it out now I wouldn't suggest getting the Benefit Talk to the Tan though I got it last year on a trip to New York because I needed some extra colour and i hated it. It looks really greasy on the skin, doesn't sit evenly and comes out soo orange it's been sitting in my make-up drawer for the last year! xo


  4. Girl, you are so awesome. All of your posts have been so carefully written and are very detailed. I've been tanning out in the sun every summer now, but you've made me want to try sunless tanning so badly. Your tan looks extremely natural and I wouldn't have thought that you were using a self-tanner! I'm going to try your method soon. xx


  5. how long does a bottle of St. Tropez last you? I am TOTALLY cheap and it seems expensive but if it lasts a while then maybe it would be worth it. I've never used self tanner before so I have no idea how to judge how long a bottle will last. Thanks for the post and the fabulous blog! you are absolutely beautiful!


  6. Salon Bronze is another really good fake tan product.It has a green tint so it comes out brown. It's an air mist tan. I got mine at Sally's Beauty. I'm very fair skinned so I have to do 5 applications to look tan. haha


  7. Hello.. i found this so helpful! thanks so much 🙂 the only thing is, have you ever used St.Moriz? i love it, it gives me such a nice brownie bronze colour but i live in the uk, and as you probably know this country is partial to rain.. i was out earlier in just a vest top and it started to rain and completely ruined my tan with raindrops everywhere! i wiped my skin in hope that it would be fine but i've not got white marks where the rain drops landed. Sorry for the essay but can anyone help? is there anything i can do? x


  8. I use St. Moriz and love it! I can't imagine it's any different than the St. tropez (at a fraction of the cost WOOT!) I use the jergen's tanning moisturizer over top the st moriz to keep the tan going throughout the week and it doesn't fade all that much after showering. Maybe that could help with the rain you get?


  9. I love St. Tropez but I always need help with my back! When I want a really quick tan that I can apply all on my own, I do TanTowels or Ulta's knock off. The color isn't as deep but I can literally apply it in about a minute.


  10. I am from the UK too and have used St. Moriz.
    When I use it, I tend to do it before bed and then shower the next morning. A glow will remain and it means that it won't run in the rain! If you do this a few nights in a row you will have a nice gradual tan without the streaks and rain drops!
    Also used St. Tropez and the difference, I find, is that you can go out in rain after using St. Tropez and it's nowhere near as bad as St. Moriz.
    Love the price of St. Moriz though!!! haha.


  11. F-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c ! I was looking for similar projects last week, and now i see this post. I normally use breadboard to do this type of work, with one of these, job will be more easy. I was thinking, and searching others projects to do my own PCB. So, let me try my luck, maybe i can win.


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