HOW TO GET A PERFECT FAUX TAN – UPDATED FOR 2022
Joe and I might have just got back from vacation, but I didn’t get my tan there. I have plenty of sun damage from my younger years of tanning with baby oil and iodine, so getting a suntan from the sun is not on my agenda. Instead, I get my suntan like I do my hair color…from a bottle. Lol!
There are many ways to achieve a faux tan, but not all of them will give you the results you want. It has taken me a few years, but I pretty much have the routine down to a science.
I have used a lot of self-tanning products, but most of them have some drawbacks. I have a slight allergy to smells; some smells give me a headache, so finding a self-tanner has been difficult. Most tanning products leave a nasty, lingering odor.
If the smell is not a factor for you, finding a faux tanning product that is non-streaking is still a problem. No matter how adept you are at applying a self-tanner, you run the risk of having a “spot” that is either too dark or too light. Here are my steps to help you look your best.
Shower and Exfoliate
Shower. Shave. Exfoliate. To get a smooth and streak-free tan, you need to rid yourself of any dead skin on your body. Showering and shaving are not enough. You can use several options for exfoliating; just be sure to give your skin a good scrubbing to get all of the dead skin off.
I’ve used an exfoliating mitt before, which takes off dead skin, but I’ve recently started using a pumice stone instead. I lather up with soap first and then use the pumice stone to gently remove any dead skin. Make sure you scrub lightly; you don’t want to irritate your skin. You can also use an exfoliating bar of soap instead of the pumice stone. You should regularly exfoliate your skin, even if you were not applying a faux tan.
I have extremely dry skin that flakes, cracks, and is all around yucky. Moisturizing is something that I have to do all of the time, not just when applying faux tanners. I switch around and use a lot of different products; the Lubriderm Advanced Therapy works great, and I also use Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion. Both of these lotions work great, or you could choose one that you like instead. After I shower, I apply the moisturizer all over my body. Applying a moisturizer is a crucial step, and it helps the tanner to spread smoothly and helps to reduce streaking.
Which self-tanner do you pick? I like a couple of different tanners; here are a couple of my favorites. You have to ask yourself what type of tanner you want to use and how much of an expert you are at applying self-tanners. Do you want a tanner with a bronzer in it, or are you comfortable with the type that goes on clear?
If you are a novice at tanning, you want something natural-looking and won’t show when you miss an area. Jergens Natural Glow is a great product that is forgiving. It will take several applications to get the color you want, but it also moisturizes your skin. I am not a fan of the scent, and I like a darker tan, so I use something different.
I’ve also used the Isle Of Paradise Self Tanning Butter, and it is forgiving and natural-looking. I didn’t notice the smell, so maybe it isn’t that bad. Tanning Drops are popular also, but I didn’t see results with those, so I quit using those.
So, I am currently using Loving Tan 2Hr Express Tan. This gives me a rich dark tan that I can see immediately, and it doesn’t all go down the drain once you take a shower. I also don’t notice the smell, so that is a good thing. However, this is not for those who haven’t used tanners before. It dries fast, and if you are not quick, you will leave streaks. I’ve used the medium and dark shades for years, and I don’t see much difference between the two colors.
I was using SUN Laboratories by Gissee, a dark tanner, but it doesn’t dry as quickly. The color is great, the smell is relatively light, and the wash-off residue is small. With any self-tanning product, you need to try the product on a small area, on a hidden part of your body, to make sure you will not have an allergic reaction.
How To Apply
Below are the instructions for applying the products, but I did a YouTube video that shows the process in greater detail. Watching the video will help you understand what I’m trying to tell you with photos.
After I have applied the moisturizer, I use a Self-Tanning Mitt to apply the self-tanner. I used to apply the tanner with my hands, but the stain would get in the lines and wrinkles, and it was hard to wash off. I have used other mitts before, but they bled through, and my hands still got dirty. This one is great, and I’ve not had any problem with stained hands.
Apply the tanner to the largest portion of the part of the body you are working on. When I start on the leg, I do the shins, going around from top to back, and then when I am sure that all of that area is covered, I’ll use what is left on the mitt to do the ankles, knees, and the tops of my feet. You have to be the most careful of those areas because they will look “rusty” if you have too much product. Then I move on to my thighs, each arm, chest, stomach, etc.
This is after I rubbed the lotion on my one leg. You can see the difference immediately. It will darken a little more in the next couple of hours. If I want more color, then I’ll add another layer. I usually begin by applying one layer. I want the tan to look as natural as possible, and I don’t want someone to say, “wow, I just saw you yesterday, and you sure look different today.” After three or four days, put on another layer. Do this till you get to your desired color.
If you didn’t use a mitt, wash your hands with soap, then use a washcloth to dry your hands. If you did use the mitt, then you will want to dampen a washcloth. Then, you start making sure you don’t have too much product in specific places. Take the cloth and go in between your fingers; also, very lightly wipe off your wrist, elbows, knees, and ankles. These are your problem areas. You don’t want extra tanning lotion to “pool” in crevices.
This is how much excess tanning product came off onto my washcloth. Let the tanning lotion dry completely before you put clothes on. I will put on a housecoat while it dries. Don’t wear white. Lol! Even though the tanner is dry, it may still rub off a little. It might take you a couple of tries to achieve the perfect faux tan, but with practice, you’ll soon be looking like you just got back from the beach.
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What self tanner do you use on your face. I have sensitive skin on my face. Many things make me break out.
Pamela, I usually just lightly rub whatever is left on my hands when I’m finished with my faux tan. I don’t want to apply much, so just the residual amount leftover is fine for me.
Thx for the tanner update and video, Tania! Looking great!
Thank you! I have a bottle and haven’t used it yet.
How do you do your back?
I appreciate all the tanning info. I use to bake in the sun in California using baby oil and foil wrapped around cardboard and folded to frame my face to catch the rays and also lay on a foil type blanket. Terrible, but the tan always looked so good and made me feel good. LOL I did use tanning beds when I moved to Washington state and the sun didn’t shine as much. I definitely use sunscreen on my face (I love color science cuz I can put that on frequently during the day over makeup). For DEBORAH-I purchased the Flawless pedi electronic pedicure tool from HSN and it is fantastic in doing away with callus on heels.
Thanks ladies esp Tania grew up in S Texas and Oahu so Love a tan but must be smart now how I get that golden glow!
Medical gloves and moisturizer 1st =great hints. Bought St Tropez this year is a good one Tania?
Tania, ok so u have mentioned several times over several different posts that u have dry skin. I was wondering (forgive me if this gross, to some!) if u have a problem with ur feet? I live in FL & wear sandals & flip flops 95% of the time. Hence, dry, cracked heels & tough callous’s on bottom of big toes. Any secrets, tips, miracle solution for this problem?!?! Any advice appreciated!
Tania, I did the iodine and baby oil as well. I will be 60 is September so I know all about that. sometimes me and my girlfriends would use melted crisco. You know, shortening out of the can? I then tortured my skin with tanning beds for decades. My tan comes from a bottle and so does my blonde hair too! LOL I like St. Tropez self tanner. I exfoliate and use Cetaphil lotion around my ankles, feet, heels & knees. I then apply the tanner with the same amount of Cetaphil lotion. It works real well for me. St. Tropez is thick and it helps to add the lotion with it, and it goes on so much smoother. I don’t have and blotching problems with it. Thanks for all of your great tips.
Be warned that the dye will get on upholstery (and bedsheets) if you sit for a prolonged period of time or are sweaty! Place a towel on the seat before sitting! Bedsheets can be washed, upholstery will require professional cleaning!
My daughter is a bottle tanner and one tip she gave me is to use medical gloves that you can purchase at Walmart, instead of a mitt. She says buying tanner is expensive and she doesn’t like the mitt absorbing so much product. 🙂
Tania, Have you tried the R&F tanner? Curious if it is any good. Thanks for the tips!
Susan, yes, I’ve tried their tanner. It is great for people WHOWant a natural looking and subtle tan. It is very forgiving, so it is great for those who aren’t experienced with using tanners.
I had a laugh to myself when you mentioned “housecoat “ in your post. Only hear that when my 88 year old mother talks. Sweet! Lol
Lol! I alternate between robe and housecoat all of the time. I do the same thing with handbag and purse.
Do you use any tanner on your face or just ramp up on the shade and bronzer?
Ann, I use what is leftover on my mitt when I am finished to apply to my face. I try to use a light touch though.
Thanks for the tips! Great information!
Glad it was helpful!
My two favorite self-tanning products are St. Tropez Self-Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse and L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Tinted self-tanning Mousse. I feel the mousses go on more evenly. I always prep the same way as you and use the St. Tropez mitt on one hand and wear a disposable cleaning glove on the other. After trying many other brands these are the ones that give me the best looking fake tan hands down.
I like the mousse tanners best too. I’ve tried other tanners, but the smell is what drives me away.
How do you get self tanner on your back? Maybe your hubby helps!!
I only apply the tanner all over my back when I’ll be wearing a bathing suit. If not, then I just apply where I can reach.
I remember the days of baby oil and iodine especially living in Florida on the beach
Crazy how silly we were back then!
Lawdy I used to do the baby oil and iodine combo to get a tan. What were we thinking? LOL
Thanx for the tips on self tanners. Best,
PS Glad you and your family are back safe and sound and rested from your vacation.
I have no idea what we were thinking!
Thanks for the video Tania. I wanted to see how you do your back, do you do it yourself? Also do you apply it to your neck?
There are bands that you can use to get the tanner on your back, but I usually use my hands. Most of the time my back won’t be showing, but if it does, then I have my hubby or daughter help.
I am a bit late here so hoping that this gets read…..don’t want any oops. The St Torpez self tanning products are fabulous but don’t really have instructions on the bottles (have no idea why) and you need to go to the website to see what to do with each type. The gradual tan product that is in a pink tube and smells like watermelon goes on the way you would expect….after a shower, etc. The product in the blue can that goes on with a mitt is different. This one goes on with a mitt the way Tania described…..THEN you sit for as long as you choose for the depth of tan you want (1hr, 2hr, up to 3hrs) and THEN you have your shower. Hope this saves you disappointment because it really does give a good fake tan.
I laugh so often at your posts-your transparency makes me feel like I know you. I too cannot stand the smell of self tanners! Something about my chemistry makes them smell sour-gag! And, I too use the same Lubriderm lotion. Can’t wait to try one of these tanners! Love ya Tania💜.
Great tips! It’s nice to get ideas from others.
Have a blessed day!
If you have too much color on a spot like heel or other rougher skin areas the next morning, fingernail polish remover can take some away, then wipe with water?
I have used Jergens for years and have always been pleased with it! I’ve noticed it has a more pleasant scent this year!
Tania have you tried the tanning drops? Where you like to moisturize first, this may work better for you, mix the drops with your favourite moisturizer, I’m hearing great things about it !!
I love that Lubriderm lotion! I credit it with the improved look of my neck. I put on all the expensive products then put the Lubriderm on top to seal all the goodness in.
I’ve used the Jergens Natural Glow. It gave me a nice tan appearance and then I went running. The product mixed in my sweat and stained my clothes. I may consider a light tan on my legs again. I have a tan but my freckles and fair complexion don’t show the tan. I’ve got a beautiful white stripe on my wrist from my sports watch. And, yes, I do put on sunscreen daily. Thank you for the application tips.
Love the update Tania, i will definitely try this weekend.
I have to apply tanner in the summer. I can’t stand being white, but I don’t want to be in the sun.
Hi Tania, I read that you moisturize before applying the tan, but Loving Tan recommends that you not moisturize before. I have extremely dry skin too and have been wondering if you’ve tried it both ways?
I have tried it both ways, but I like to moisturize because I have extremely dry skin and I find that it goes on much easier.
I find it easier to use my bare hands when I apply self tanner. My trick to getting it off my hands is baking soda. I keep an old parmesean cheese shaker full of baking soda and add it to my soap when washing my hands after self tanning. No tan palms!!
Thanks for the tips. It is always a pain to get it right! I am completely white without a tan. I cannot wear shorts without a little tan, it boosts my confidence. I always say brown fat looks better than white fat!! LOL!!
Tania, thank you for the info. I use a daily glow product now, but will switch to self tanner soon. I too hate being pasty white.
Tania this was fascinating I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a tanning mitt. Thank you excellent information!
So wish I could use self tanners. I am allergic to everyone I have tried. I want some color though. Don’t shoot me! I go to the tanning bed for a few weeks before I can get in the pool. I just think you look healthier with a tan.
Looks great! Do you have a link to your top?
Out of concern I have to say that it’s just not a healthy thing to do for your skin. Your skin is your largest organ. It absorbs whatever you put on it. It’s like poisoning yourself to use those products.
I understand the desire to look your best, but not at the risk of your health.
I love your clothing posts, but I don’t think we should put our health at risk for the sake of our appearance or style. Embrace who God made you to be: a fair skinned person..
There are non-toxic/organic brands of self-tanners. DHA that is naturally derived from sugar is a nontoxic alternative to naturally bronze the skin. Nearly any product can be reviewed on the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep website to determine if it has ingredients of concern. My point is you don’t need be afraid to use a good non-toxic/organic brand of self-tanner. There are plenty of them out there. 🙂
Sorry, that is an old one that I bought from Loft.
I am just not patient enough to do it right. I end up with orange streaks. You look great.
Elizabeth, it doesn’t take very long. Plus, with this product, the streaks wouldn’t be orange. Lol!
After 2 procedures to remove skin cancer -I started on a long journey to find the perfect self Tanner -or as I call it “Tan in a Can “. From super expensive to drugstore cheap I gave them a shot. Nothing compared to the $9 can of Tanwise from Sallys. I apply it like you do with a mitt and it is just a beautiful natural looking tan. I get tons of compliments and questions about my tan and have referred so many ladies to Sallys ( they should be sending me a commission check). Around this time of year I start out lightly and progressively go darker ( not too dark though) so it looks as though it happened naturally .
I highly recommend this – it comes in aerosol and foam , I use the aerosol .
Thanks for all these tips. I use St. Tropez foam with the tanning mitt, as I find it is a good color for me. I appreciate the tip abput using a damp washcloth to remover excess — great idea!
Thanks for the recommendation, Marilyn. I’ve not tried that brand yet. I prefer foam because I don’t like the overspray from an aerosol and I don’t want to inhale any of the product.
Thank you Tanya for this. I needed tips!
Hey Tania! I’ve been using Lovely Tan and it’s a great product. Not only am I pasty white but it covers a multitude of sins and gives me confidence for spring/summer clothes. Thanks for sharing❤️
I agree with you, Susan. It gives me confidence when I am showing my legs and arms.
I am glad that I could help, Marianne.
Thank you for the product recommendations. I think those that don’t want to hear about it can just skip that day. You are sharing your knowledge on something that makes a lot of people have more self confidence or just self care they enjoy. Nothing wrong with that! But THAT NECKLACE in the first photo! Details please!!
The photo is an older one. The necklace is from Plunder, but it is retired.
doing this was on my agenda for today so thank you for the tips! I am sure to get better results.
That was perfect timing for you, Mary.
I’ve decided over the years to embrace the theory “white is the new tan”. Self tanners are too much trouble. I can almost always spy a self tanner on people because of the excess on hands, wrists and ankles. I have gone to someone for a spray tan when I wanted a healthy glow for a special occasion. This was also more trouble than it was worth. Pasty white I am and pasty white I shall remain. ?
I understand, Michele. Everyone has to decide what is the best choice for themselves.
Michele, for years I said, “one of these days people are going to be going to whitening booths, and I’m going to be able to say ‘mine is natural.'” I’m about to give up, though! 😍
Self tanner looks great but where is the top from? Love it!
Lol! That is an old photo, and that top was bought back in the fall from Loft.
I never use self tanner. To much hustle for me. Happy weekend and I hope to see you on my Fancy Friday linkup party!
I have to use them, it drives me crazy to be so white.