Do you ever wonder which self tanner products really work? Or how to get that sun kissed glow without laying out in the sun? I certainly do. Last week I discussed how to get the perfect summer glow using Charlotte Tilbury’s Supermodel Body Shimmer and my favorite summer make-up products HERE. Today’s blog post is more focused on self tanning tips & tricks for the best glow. This will help you get ready for summer without damaging your skin in the suns harmful rays. Especially since we just featured swimsuits in this post.
For those of you who have not been with me for all 6 years that I’ve had this blog, you might want to read this blog post about my skin cancer scare. It is still the blog post that resonates the most with my readers and the one that people actually stop me to discuss. Many of you told me your own personal journey about going to the dermatologist and taking care of your own spots that you discovered after you read my blog post. I’m grateful that this little space on the web was helpful in some small way!
Just know when you see any type of beach, pool, or swimsuit shot of me, I have slathered on sunscreen and its typically 50 SPF strength. Gone are my high school days of baking my skin with baby oil and a reflective blanket. After all, that’s what caused all of my skin damage to begin with. Now, I use sunless tanners, sprays and lotions to get that glow! And if you like a professional spray tan, I go to GLOWW. Whitney is amazing and has her own formulas individually created for her clients. To answer your question – YES, I stand naked in front of her and let her airbrush the custom blend on me. 🙂
Now let’s talk best self tanners that really work. I’m giving you our favorites, which all come in different forms and for different skin tones…
1. Isle of Paradise – for a refreshing, natural tan
Isle of Paradise was created by a professional celebrity tanner and its completely organic, vegan, and cruelty-free. They make 3 different forms of their tanning formula: mousse, drops, or water. It just depends how you prefer to apply it. It comes in 3 different tones (light, medium, and dark) that are all color correcting, hydrating, and odorless. It’s very rare to find a self-tanner without a scent, but this one is the best in that department! Note that Isle of Paradise doesn’t have a “color guide”, meaning that it goes on pretty clear. You can’t see the color as you apply it like you do for other tanners that have a bronze “color guide” in it. But that also means this won’t rub off on your bed sheets. Quite a plus! This is probably not the best option for beginners to self-tanning. You’ll want another option below that shows up on the skin as you apply it. But if you’ve used self-tanner before, try the Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water. It’s easy to apply – just spray the water on the skin and rub in with a tanning mitt preferably. It’s like a refreshing mist on your skin! You can even do a light mist on the face in the morning to give yourself a glowy complexion. Isle of Paradise is often sold out because it’s that awesome. Even with fair skin, many women use the dark tanning water because it gives a stronger, bronze tan. The drops are extremely easy to apply because you just combine them with your lotion and lather on as much as desired. This is really nice because you can control the strength of the color by how many drops you use. (See below for another tan drop option). Overall, Isle of Paradise’s products are pretty odorless and provide an amazing natural color that I highly recommend trying!
2. St. Tropez Mousse – for a strong tan
St.Tropez is another favorite, and perfect especially for beginners. I would say it is the closest thing mimicking a professional spray tan. Their Classic bronzing mousse is great, but they also have an Express mousse if you want your tan to develop quicker. Their mousse formulas are lightweight, easy to apply, fade evenly and dry quickly. I’d use St. Tropez if you are looking for an easy to apply tan. There’s a bronzey “color guide” in their tanners so you can see where you are applying it. That is always super helpful so you don’t miss a spot. Nobody wants a patchy or spotted tan! St. Tropez claims that there is no smell, but in my experience I would say it does smell a little. It’s not too bad and is much better after a shower! But in comparison, Isle of Paradise has less of a scent in my opinion.
3. Jergen’s Lotion – for a buildable tan
Jergen’s is just a classic, right? Some may have mixed opinions on this, but it’s always been a reliable go-to for a gradual and buildable tan. Jergen’s Natural Glow Moisturizer is a daily moisturizer that evens out your skin tone. You will notice a difference within a couple of days and then reach the maximum color after using it for about a week. The only downfall to this one is that Jergen’s does have a smell to it. And since you put it on everyday and don’t shower after like other self-tanners, the smell is probably the strongest of these tanners. I’d honestly recommend Jergen’s as the easiest self tanner to use though! It’s nice and buildable without the mess of a mousse. Just make sure you get the right shade for your skin tone – fair/medium or medium/tan. I’d go lighter and don’t overdo it because it builds up and you don’t want to look orange after a week! Use Jergen’s if you want less of a “spray tan” and more of a daily moisturizing tanner.
4. b.tan – for the fastest, darkest tan
Look no further than b.tan for your darkest tan ever. If you want that beautiful tanned skin, but don’t have the hours to spend laying out then b.tan tanned AF tan mousse is for you. It only take 1 hour for the tan to develop and you can leave it on for up to 4+ hours for the darkest results. It is vegan, animal cruelty-free and free of parabens plus it won’t give you that fake tan smell. Another amazing product is the b.tan forever + ever self tan mousse. This tanning mousse gives you a beautiful tan that lasts up to 11 days! It really does last forever and ever.
5. Tan Luxe Drops – for glowing skin
Tan Luxe Drops are a great option just like Isle of Paradise drops. The only real difference is that these are a bit more expensive, but definitely worth it if drops are your thing. It’s also designed to help firm and reduce the appearance of cellulite, so that’s a major bonus! You can get these drops for both face and body in light/medium or medium/dark. Essentially, this is a tanning concentrate that transforms any moisturizer, serum, or face oil into a customized self tanner. Mix 2-6 drops per body part with your usual body moisturizer and apply to the skin in a circular motion from head to toe. Additional drops will increase depth of color. Wash hands after using and then moisturize the hands and feet to mix the color lightly onto these areas. Tan Luxe makes a wide range of different tanning products as well, including illuminating tan oil.
6. TanTowel Towelettes – for a quick and natural tan
TanTowel is unsurprisingly known for their most popular item – tan towelettes. These towelettes are infused with a clear self-tanning formula that works with your skin to produce a natural and healthy tan in just a few hours. The towelettes come in half body and full body application. The towelettes give you a mess-free tan without the streaks and fuss of other products. It’s never been easier to get that head to toe tan. The Face Tan towels are great if you normally cover up your face and want your face color to match your body color. Plus, they’re anti-aging! TanTowel has other amazing products that I linked below for an easy and streak-free tan.
7. Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi “Sunshine” Serum – for a subtle bronze
Drunk Elephant is beloved for their skincare products, and their D-Bronzi Bronzing Drops are no exception. This is a a serum that immediately replenishes a balanced and healthy barrier of the skin—like sunshine’s bronzy color but without the damage. I love this one because it has so many great skincare benefits! The concentrated mix of protective antioxidants boosts the skin’s defenses against pollution and environmental stressors. And it even helps with fine lines and wrinkles. Drunk Elephant’s products are all clean, so they are vegan and cruelty-free as well. Please note that D-Bronzi is a mixer and way too concentrated to be used on its own! Add a drop of D-Bronzi to any serum, oil, or moisturizer and apply to your face, chest, legs, or anywhere you want a touch of gorgeous and glowy bronze.
8. Kora Organic Lotion – for a gradual glow
Kora Organics Gradual Self-tanning Lotion is a super hydrating and gradual lotion that leaves you with a soft, natural glow after one application and a honey-toned tan after a second. It nourishes skin and the rosy lavender scent is subtle. Kora Organics is supermodel Miranda Kerr’s line of products, so you know it’s going to give you glowy skin! The super blendable and creamy formula won’t stain, plus it’s packed with skin-boosting benefits. This gives you more of a subtle, sun-kissed glow that develops over just a few days as you continue to use it.
Self Tanning Tips & Tricks
– Exfoliate, shave, and moisturize the day before self-tanning. This is VERY important so it goes on smoothly and doesn’t flake!
– If you get your nails done, get them done BEFORE spray or self-tanning so the salon doesn’t scrub off your tan.
– Make sure your hands, feet, knees, ankles, and elbows are very moisturized leading up to tanning so they don’t look patchy! Even blot a towel with a little moisturizer on it lightly on those areas after tanning.
– Purchase a tanning mitt to keep your hands from getting orange. Apply your favorite tanner with this in long sweeping motions to help you blend the product out.
– Do NOT apply a lot of product on top of your hands and feet. Simply tan the rest of your body and then lightly glide the excess tanner from your tanning mitt onto your hands and feet. Trust me, you don’t need as much as you may think.
– Keep a damp towel to the side while you apply your self-tanner. Make sure to lightly wipe off your palms and feet after application. Things can get messy!
– Make sure to wash your hands after self-tanning. After your hands dry, put a small bit of tanner on the back of one hand and rub the backs of the hands together to blend. Do not put tanner on your palms. Wait to wash your hands again until the full 4-8 hours are complete.
– Do NOT sweat, get wet, or wear any tight clothing until your tan has fully developed.
– Moisturize each day of your tan to help prolong the color. Even use this priming spray before tanning to help it stay better.
– Begin tanning from the feet and work upwards. Make sure you double check that you have covered all areas and blended the product in order to avoid streaks. If you happen to mess up or overdo your tan, try using Isle of Paradise Self-Tan Eraser.
I hope these tips and recommendations are helpful to y’all! I tried to be as thorough and honest as possible so you can get your best glow for summer. I’ve linked even more amazing options below or check out more ways to get a summer glow HERE.
What is your favorite self-tanner? I’d love to try it!
xoxo – Tanya
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Tags: glowing skin, organic, sephora, swimsuits, Ulta
I agree, days of sitting in the sun for a tan is no longer an option for me. Thank you for all these options. I really like the Tan Lux drops because I can control the depth of color by the number of drops I use. Would really rather go to a salon to have it done—any recommendations for Houston?
Try Palm Beach Tan. Do you have those in Houston? Their Versa Spa works pretty well. TIP: Get two passes on your legs. That’s what the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders do.
You can get the Isle of Paradise on their website, they are in stock!! Thanks for the recommendation 🙂
Great, comprehensive list! I cannot tan due to sun damage from my youth so I am a BIG believer in self tanning!
Have you tried Fake Bake sunless tanner? I’m stuck on it. Afraid nothing else will be as good.
I have not. But I see it is available here: https://rstyle.me/+n_UKEzliIBdfkeoqg8gSig
Thanks for the suggestion.
LOVE it when a question in your suggestion box gets answered! Particularly the smell aspect….you know me! GREAT post Tanya! Thank you!
We aim to please!
Glad you liked today’s blog post!
xoxo- Tanya 🙂
I had to stop getting spray tans because they made my brown spots (from years of tanning), darker. Which of these self tanners would be best for someone with my skin?
This is true Stacey. I have a little trick for that.
Take a dab of moisturizer and put it on the most obvious brown spots to prevent the spray tan from hitting your skin. It really helps.
Also, I get most of my brown spots lasered off at the dermatologist office.
Hope that helps!
Great post! My husband hates the smell of the Jergens which I was using after I got a spray tan just to moisturize and keep my tan going. He’s very sensitive to smells. I live in Calgary, Canada and go to the Vanity Vault for an Organic Tan and it turns out beautiful. I work at the Cancer Centre here so I know all about skin cancers and I am glad you slather on the SPF 50!
The Charlotte Tilbury shimmer product is forgiving and creates a youthful, natural glow! Highly recommend!
Thanks for all the recommendations. So many new tan products on the market to day, it’s hard to choose. With my very fair skin, I need to try some of these great suggestions. I look like Kasper the ghost. In the past, I have used Tan Towels and they are very similar to Kate Sommerville. I love all your suggestions and especially the tips for before tanning. Thanks for all the good suggestions Good article with informative information.
Thanks for the suggestions. I have been wanting to try the drops. I have very sensitive skin. Any suggestions which product might be best for sensitive skin.
Hi Linda! Ramsey says her skin is very sensitive, so she loves Isle of Paradise the best…either drop or spray. Because this is a vegan line of products, it is great for sensitive skin. I’d recommend any “clean” or organic brands, like Kora Organic Lotion or Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Serum mentioned above in post. Hope that helps!
xoxo – Tanya
Tank you, Tanya.
This answers a lot of questions.
I’m so glad it does. That is what we are here for.
Hello, Thanks for sharing self care tips and tricks for the best glow. Keep sharing such type of blog with us.
You are very welcome!
Remember the days of QT tanner?
DYING! Yes, I do!
The very best self tanner guide!!!! Amazing!!! Taking screen shots and saving!!! ☀️
I’m so glad you like it. It was a lot of work but we think the information will always be important.
Thanks for leaving a comment!
So many choices with lots of great info! After reading about each product I thought, Ok, I’ll try that one. Now back to square one, which one do I try? For sure, drops that I add into moisturizer. Thanks for doing all the work for us.
Well, we aim to please. This one was a lot of research but it is great information for anytime.
Great post Tanya. I’m glad you included Tan Towels because I still use them. Have a nice Memorial Day weekend.
You look great in a swimsuit.
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