Can’t tone it? Tan it.
That’s my motto! I mentioned in my How I Get Sunkissed (Without the Sun) post that there’s a positive correlation between how tan my skin is and my self-confidence. BUT as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized two things: 1) the sun is SO damaging, and 2) I don’t have time to sit poolside for hours like I used to! So over the past few years, I’ve started self-tanning in order to keep that sunkissed glow year round. Don’t get me wrong – I have a love/hate relationship with this process. It’s time consuming, and so many things can go wrong. But over time with lots of practice, I’ve created a routine that WORKS. Today I’m sharing all that goes into My Self-Tanning Routine – from the products I use to the steps I take and even a little Q&A to kick us off! Cheers to tanned skin and swimsuit season!
Q: HOW OFTEN DO YOU APPLY FAKE TAN?
A: The tanning products I use typically keep a good tan for about 5-7 days! I try and apply my tanner once every two weeks though because it takes 2-3 days to fully get back to my natural color, and then I also have body makeup I use in between tans if needed!
Q: WHAT TIME OF DAY SHOULD YOU APPLY YOUR TANNER?
A: I like to apply my products at nighttime and go to sleep with them on. This is how I get my best color!
Q: HOW DO YOU TAN YOUR BACK?
A: This is a great question that I’m still trying to learn the answer to. My husband is a gem, and he’s typically the one that applies it for me. In all honesty though, unless it’s the middle of summer and I have an event, I’ll usually leave my back un-tanned since most people won’t see it or notice it. But I’ve listed a product + a creative workaround in my routine below!
Q: DO YOU TAN YOUR HANDS AND FEET?
A: YES YES YES. I used to be terrified to do this because of the horror stories I’ve seen of girls with orange hands and feet. But in my routine, you’ll see that I go through a few preventative steps so that this doesn’t happen! The products you use are also key!
Q: SHOULD YOU START WITH A LIGHTER SHADE FIRST?
A: This is absolutely personal preference. I’ve learned that a lot of the products I’ve tried in lighter shades don’t provide the color I’m looking for, so I typically gravitate towards the darker options. It’s a trial and error process, and also remember that most of the places I’m linking have great return policies if you end up needing to exchange for a darker or lighter color!
Q: DO YOU USE THE SAME PRODUCTS ON YOUR FACE AND BODY?
A: Nope! I used to, but I felt like the body mousse I use is a bit too dark for my face. It gave great color and didn’t break me out, but it wasn’t the sunkissed, healthy glow I was looking for! Plus, I found the most INCREDIBLE facial tanning drops that are so easy to use. I live by them! I listed both my body and my face products in my routine below.
Q: WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP TO MAKE SURE YOU TAN IS EVEN?
A: The hardest part about self-tanning, in my opinion, is making sure you have an even application. The two things that have helped me do that is 1) EXFOLIATE, and 2) USE LOTION. I go into more detail below, but they’re both SUCH important steps – so don’t skip them!
1. SHOWER, SHAVE, EXFOLIATE – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve skipped this step and been SO mad at myself because of how uneven my tan ends up being! Always start your tanning process by taking a shower, shaving your legs, armpits, bikini area, etc., and exfoliating your ENTIRE body. I like to keep it cheap and use granulated sugar to exfoliate! Focus on your drier and/or bonier areas. And be sure to completely dry off when you get out!
2. APPLY BODY LOTION – This is another must-do step in order to achieve the most even tan. Use a body lotion (any lotion works, but I linked my favorites below), and apply it to all bony areas: shoulders, collar bones, elbows, kneecaps, shins, all over your feet/ankles/toes, and all over your hands/wrists/fingers. This will help keep you from getting those dreaded Cheeto hands and feet!
3. APPLY TANNING MOUSSE TO BODY – I’ve used the Loving Tan 2-Hour Express (shade: Dark) for the past few years and love the color and longevity it gives. I use the Loving Tan Applicator Mitt to apply it to my arms (2 pumps per arm), chest (1 pump), abdomen (2 pumps), and legs (4 pumps per leg). I suggest using a brush (linked below) to blend the product on your knees and elbows! Once I’m done applying it to my body, I use this Morphe M439 brush to apply it to the other areas of my body. I brush the mousse onto my neck (.75 pump), my wrists/hands (.5 pump per hand), and my ankles/feet (.75 pump per foot). Be conservative with these areas! Using a brush really helps blend the product and get into the harder-to-reach places – when I do this, I rarely have any issues with splotching!
4. GETTING YOUR BACK – I wish I had some magic answer for this one, but I don’t. My husband typically applies the product to my back, but if you’re at home alone I’ve linked a back tanner that gets pretty good reviews below! You can also get creative by sticking a wooden spoon into the tanning mitt I linked above to apply it to your back!
5. APPLY FACIAL TANNING DROPS – As I mentioned above, I don’t like using the tanning mousse for my face. I’ve used it on my face in the past, and it just provided a little too rich of a color for what I’m looking for in a facial tan. So I use these facial tanning drops that I SWEAR BY. I mix about 4-5 drops into my moisturizer at night, and when I wake up I have the most beautiful sunkissed glow! I use the shade medium/dark.
6. LET IT SET/DEVELOP – Even though the tanning mousse I use is called the “2-Hour Express”, I’ve learned that I like the color better (and it lasts longer) when I let it develop overnight! Thankfully this product dries fairly quickly after application and doesn’t usually transfer. But I still like to throw on a pair of old and baggy pajamas just to be safe! I go to sleep and then wake up the next morning to wash it off. Be aware: after you wash it off, it typically takes a few hours for the tan to fully develop. So don’t be discouraged when you wash it off and you look the same color as you did before the process started!
Some important tips for when you wash it off: 1) use colder water! Hotter water temperature tends to strip the color of my tan much quicker. 2) When you dry off, don’t rub your skin with a towel! Always pat yourself dry. This also helps prolong the life of your tan!
7. BETWEEN TANS – I have a one product I like to use in-between my tanning routines so that I don’t have to go through this entire process as often! In the summer months when my arms and legs are showing, I LOVE using the Body Blur (especially for special events!). This is a form of body makeup, but it makes your skin look SO flawless! It’s definitely a thicker consistency, so I recommend mixing it with a more liquidy body lotion. It also can transfer if you don’t let it completely dry, so be weary of that!