Complete Guide to Sunless Tanning

I’ve been very fair skinned and photosenstive my whole life! Meaning the second I get in the sun, I’m red – either burning skin or breaking out in a rash. Growing up near the beach and always being outside I wasn’t in touch with reality to realize that I was really doing my body harm. I would walk around with burned skin all year long and didn’t think twice about it.

Once I got out of high school and educated myself on saving my skin, I really got into sunless tanning. And I’m not talking beds, those are bad too! I’m talking spray tans, mousses and oils. I really love the sunkissed look so you’ll find me applying these products once a week.

I also love how much variety there is now with these products. I’m always switching off depending how I feel or how much time I have to get the tan. It’s not the 2000’s fake and bake anymore. These products don’t smell crazy and won’t leave you orange like an Oompa Loompa.

I also wish when I started to learn about these products that there was an easy guide for me, because when I bought my first mousse I was terrified! And trust me, I’ve tried them all! So buy yourself a mitt and get ready for the tan life.

There are a few tips I’d like to share before tanning to get the best results, I hear confusion about this all the time! Shower, exfoliate and shave the day before. Not the day of! There is misconception here often, the tan sticks to dry, un-moisturized skin. And yes, you have to exfoliate! If you don’t you will be left with unsightly patches. Also, right before you start, apply your normal lotion to the driest parts of your body, AKA your elbows, knees, wrists and hands. These parts will soak up the tan and will get DARK. Not a good look, has happened to me so many times because I forgot!

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Best Tan For Darkest Color

I just saw someone’s review on Sephora for the St. Tropez Dark Bronzing Mousse that said “every pale woman’s dream” and this is exactly how I feel! Like I mentioned before, I am very pale so this mousse is a dream come true. The color is a dark olive (it may look green when you put it in) but trust me, this is the easiest way for me to get a dark, glowing tan without baking in the sun for days.

There is a method to my madness, so follow along and it will turn out great! You definitely will need the mitt for this one. I also like to do this in front of a full length mirror in case I miss any spots. I start down at my toes and work my way up as it is a tiny bit sticky right after you put it on and I feel weird bending down in case I mess it up and stick to myself. So I do a few pumps into my mitt, close my hand so that the mousse spreads and I paint the mousse onto whichever area I’m doing and then use the mitt in circles to blend. Make sure you are blending well because you can’t revisit later! If you try to go back at the end, you might create a weird mark and mess up the tan that’s already settled.

I also don’t usually tan my face with a mousse as I’m scared of breakouts, so you can skip the face and just blend your foundation to a darker shade, or scroll down for my favorite face product which gives me the perfect glow.

These are the tricks you NEED to know for after you have applied the tan:

After I feel like the tan is dry, there are a few steps that I do every time…

  1. I get a baby wipe and clean my palms (tan palms are not cute!) and wipe all of your nails and nailbeds, they WILL turn brown.
  2.  I throw on a baggy dark colored tshirt, and flowy black pajama pants, like THESE from Target, because your legs will stick together and you do not want to sweat and create any kind of weird marks!
  3. And if it’s a mousse, and I don’t want to dirty my sheets, I bought a black top sheet from Target too (like this) and create a sleeping bag kind of situation in my bed. I take half for under, sticking the sheet from under my pillows to the end of my bed and then fold the top over.

Your sheets and clothes will come clean in the wash but it saves the hassle in the meantime!

Best Tan For Your Face

I’m obsessed with the Charlotte Tilbury Unisex Healthy Glow for your face! Since it acts as a moisturizer it gives your skin a glow and I’m not scared to breakout like I am with the tanning products. I usually apply this before I use tan on my body as you have to wash your hands after applying and you won’t want to ruin your tan on your body.

This magic gives me a light glow (it’s not too dark) so that I don’t have to wear makeup! It comes out of the tube white and the pigments adjust to your face so you’ll never need to buy different colors. You also don’t have to worry about this tan messing up your pillowcase. Win win really!

Best Tan in A Hurry

Okay so the Bondi Sands Express Tanning Foam is pure magic. You can leave it on as little as 30 mins or up to 3 hours for the darkest color (I’ve left in on for 4 hours and it’s turned into to a pretty shade). The application is very similar and almost identical to the St. Tropez tan from earlier, but this one comes out like a shaving cream consistency so you have to work fast on blending it in. I also like to use the Bondi Sands Mitt for this one because I think it just blends the product better.

Overall, I like this one in a pinch because it works fast and the color is great! I also will do this is if I don’t want to sleep in the tan and I want to wash it off before bed.

After washing the mousse off, always follow up your shower with a lotion. Keeping your skin moisturized is the key to a longer lasting tan. I use the Pure Grace lotion because I like the consistency and it keeps my tan strong. But keep scrolling for my favorite tanning lotion to get my tan even darker after this express mousse.

Best Tanning Lotion

This is by far the best gradual tanning lotion I’ve tried. I tried them all, including drug store products and high end brands, they always leave me looking streaky! The problem with lotions is that they are clear or white in color, so you can’t see the areas that you’ve missed. But, the good thing is they won’t stain or ruin clothes or sheets.

I like to use this on a daily basis or after I wash off a tanning mousse for a deeper color. Make sure you’re stilling going in circles to not create streaks and also wash your hands with soap and water after to not get tanned palms.

Best Innovative Tan

When I first used the Tan Luxe “The Body” Illuminating Tan drops I was so impressed! They were easy to apply and there was no mess at all! You basically grab your favorite lotion (remember my favorite is the Pure Grace lotion) pump the lotion in your hand, and drop the desired amount of oil in with your lotion and mix into your skin. I usually go for 4-6 drops as I want the maximum color here. I like to do it in parts (ex. legs, body, arms, back etc) and keep doing the lotion/oil mixing per body part. The tips here are that I like to use my finger as a mixer before I put it on my skin and I think the trick of all tanning products is to use the circular motions for streak free application. Also, you will have to wash your hands here after. I still wear my black pajama pants too, even though it’s not necessary, I just don’t like to risk my legs sticking together in the middle of the night!

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I hope you’ll take something away from this post and continue to save your skin from the sun! I think I’ll have to do another post on my favorite SPF products as those are super important too.



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