Hi friends! I know a self tanner guide right before summer is kind of taboo, but not everyone can get outside everyday and get their tan on. Plus I heard it’s bad for your skin 😉 So I wanted to share this self tanner guide so we can level out the playing field with those lucky babes who go outside for two minutes and turn into a bronzed goddess! I definitely don’t have time during the week to work on my tan so I try to keep up with my self tanning regimen regularly because there’s just something about being tan that makes me feel prettier. Does anyone else feel like that?!
When I use self tanner:
I always use self tanner twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays, to keep my skin looking bronzed all week long. I try to apply my self tanner during times that I don’t have a lot going on. Usually, I’ll use it when I’m cleaning the house or just hanging out and relaxing. Obviously self tanner comes off when wet, so I try to avoid yard work or being outside or doing the dishes, anything that would put my self tanner in danger of smearing or splotching. Some self tanners need to sit for six hours and some only need to sit for two hours. So Sunday’s I’ll usually do the longer ones, unless I have plans, and Thursdays I’ll do the quick two or three hour ones. And I always shower, wash my hair, and shave before I apply my self tanner. Then once the self tanner dries, I hop back into the shower and just rinse the self tanner off!
How to take care of the tan:
It’s good to exfoliate your skin before applying self tanner to get rid of all the dead skin and it will help your self tanner fade off more smoothly and not look blotchy or streaky. And it’s good to exfoliate your old self tanner off before applying a new one. Sulfates will also strip the self tanner off of your body. So I always take a shower, wash my hair, and shave BEFORE I apply my self tanner, and then when it’s dry, I hop back into the shower with my hair up and just rinse the self tanner off. Otherwise the sulfates from soap and shampoo and conditioner will strip your self tanner right off and you won’t get the tan look that you wanted. Shaving does the same thing. When you shave you are exfoliating and taking the dead skin off so it will take your self tanner off with it. So try to avoid washing your hair with shampoo and conditioner that contains sulfates and try to avoid shaving if you can or just shave really lightly. I use the Function of Beauty shampoo and conditioner because it is sulfate free, or any sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner will also help!
With that said about sulfates, lotions that contain sulfates will also strip your self tanner. So it’s important to use good quality lotion and moisturizer while you have self tanner on. I use Soap & Glory Righteous butter lotion and Bondi Sands Gradual Tanning Milk as my daily moisturizers because they are both sulfate-free. The Soap & Glory lotion smells amazing so that’s usually what I wear throughout the day. And the Bondi Sands tanning lotion I use first thing in the morning and let it sit before I get dressed because it keeps my skin hydrated while also giving me a gradual tan!
I would highly recommend switching to sulfate-free products if you use self tanner. You want to get your money’s worth out of the self tanner and you want it to look amazing every time, so using sulfate-free products will really help your self tanner shine bright like the star that it is! Here are some of the sulfate-free products that I use now:
Why you should use self tanner:
I’m sure you’re wondering what the difference is between a spray tan and a self tanner. Well, I worked at a tanning salon in college and I have the answer for you! Spray tans do not work/look good unless you get the “dark” option. The “light” spray tan color does not make a difference in your skin color at all and the “medium” spray tan color will make you orange 100% of the time. So please promise me that you will never get light or medium if you get a spray tan. Also, spray tans are really expensive and a lot can go wrong. When I worked at the tanning salon, it cost over $60 for a customer to get a single spray tan. And if you want a good spray tan it costs even more than that. So you can either spend $60 for ONE basic spray tan that will fade in 3-5 days, or you can just buy a self tanner for under $40 and it will give you at least EIGHT tans!
And the spray tans are always risky because it’s just spraying you and not everyone’s body it shaped the same. I like using the self tanner mousse and an application mitt because I can rub it all over and get all of the hard-to-reach places (you know the butt moons that I’m talking about!!). The spray tan can leave your hands, elbows, knees, face, ankles, feet, and the bottom of your feet looking splotchy or streaky or really dark/light. So it’s just easier to use the applicator mitt and apply it yourself to avoid all of those tricky areas getting missed or getting too concentrated! Y’all do not know how many spray tan horror stories I have seen while I was working at the tanning salon… Imagine the scene from Friends where Ross tries to get the spray tan. That really happens!!
Self tanner reviews:
#1 – Loving Tan 2hr Express Tanning Mousse in “Dark” – this one is my favorite because it only takes 2 hours to absorb and I can use it after work when I’m super busy or rushing to get ready for an event. And it leaves an amazing dark color with a purple undertone, which is perfect for my skin because I am Native American so my skin always has a red-orange tint anyways and self tanners with a red or orange undertone will make me look super orange. So this one is my favorite!
#2 – Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam in “Dark” – I also really like this one because it has a purple undertone, too. This one is also more affordable and comes in a bigger bottle. The reason why it is not my favorite is because it takes 6 hours to absorb. So this one I use on Sunday’s when I don’t have anything going on and I can just hang out for 6 hours while it sets. But it is always an amazing color in the end!
#3 – St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse – This was the first self tanner that I ever tried because it used to be the holy grail brand of self tanners when it first became a thing. But there are way better brands and products now so I never bought this one again. It doesn’t get as dark as the Loving Tan or the Bondi Sands self tanners. It doesn’t come in shades, but instead it has three time/darkness options: leave on for one hour to get “light”, leave on for two hours to get “medium”, and leave on for three hours to get “dark”. But the three-hour dark shade doesn’t get all that dark anyways. And this one has a green undertone which I thought was interesting. I have an olive skin tone so my skin is darker to begin with – my “pale” is the same as some peoples “tan” – so I have to have a self tanner that gets real dark and this one just doesn’t do it for me. BUT if you have really light skin and don’t tan easily, then this one will probably be great for you! If you have the level 1 skin type (learned from the tanning salon) where you have blue eyes and natural red hair and freckles or if you have natural light blond hair and blue eyes, then this St. Tropez with the green undertone will work well for you and not look too dark!
#4 – Bondi Sands Gradual Tanning Milk – I apply this lotion all over my body, except for my face, every morning and do my makeup while I let it dry before getting dressed for the day so it won’t stain my clothes. This gradual tanning lotion will give me a tiny bit of a tan so I use this with a self tanning mousse. By itself, it doesn’t give me the tan that I want. But when I use it with a self tanner it gives me that little extra umph of darkness!
#5 – St. Tropez In-Shower Gradual Tan – I don’t think this works at all… I really like the concept of applying this in the shower and leaving on for three minutes and then rinse it off, all while never leaving the shower, but it never actually did anything for my skin. It’s the same concept as the St. Tropez express mousse where you leave it on for one minute for “light”, two minutes for “medium”, and three minutes for “dark”, but I would get out of the shower and look completely the same… So I wouldn’t waste your money with that one!
#6 – L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self Tanning Water Mousse in “Medium” – I normally stay far far away from anything in “medium” shade but they don’t have a dark option so I didn’t really have a choice. It’s also L’Oreal so it’s a lot more affordable than the other Loving Tan, Bondi Sands, St. Tropez brands, etc. It’s only $15 and it’s only online at Ulta or you can get it in-store at Walgreens but they were sold out when I went to the one by my house. I also like how this one has a coconut scent as opposed to the normal self tanner scent, haha! I was weirded out at first because it is clear and looks like water but that is probably a lot healthier for your skin if you have sensitive skin!
Self Tanner Guide – Tips:
#1 – Stick with the mousse or lotions. Mists of spray ones will get EVERYWHERE and stain your entire bathroom and bath mats and the bottom of your feet. It’s terrible!
#2 – Always use applicator mitts. I know it seems extraneous and like an up-sell to buy an applicator mitt with the self tanner but it really helps to evenly spread the product and to avoid staining your hands or your towels! And you can wash it afterwards for multiple uses.
#3 – Always use “dark”. The best shades are always dark. Light and medium might turn out orange. You can watch your self tanner as it sets in and if you’re only on hour 3 of the 6-hour dry-time and you think that you are dark enough, you can rinse it off sooner. You 100% do not have to wait the entire dry time, that is only for the darkest color. So you can wash off as soon as you are at your desired darkness!
#4 – Re-apply the self tanner 30 minutes after the initial application for an even darker, deeper tan. I did not know about this trick until recently and it has changed my life! I apply the first round of self tanner all over and then after 30 minutes when everything is good and dry, I will re-apply the self tanner and it will help make it darker and more of a deeper tan like it came from the actual sun itself!
I hope this self tanner guide was helpful for everyone out there with a million questions about self tanner or if you use self tanner already but maybe didn’t know about sulfates or about the 30-minute re-application trick! I always feel my best when I am tan but I also don’t want to bake out in the sun for hours at a time and get wrinkly skin. So self tanner has saved my life and my skin’s elasticity!