I don’t know about you, but I always look much healthier with a little bit of a good tan. It’s just something about that beautiful sun-kissed look that makes a person glow… And I noticed that on other people too.
Having a nice tan also has a strange ability to boost my mood. It may sound crazy but often, when life is stressful, you can find me in the bathroom slathering on self-tanner.
I think it became a form of meditation because the whole process is quite long (shower, scrub, moisturize, apply…) and there’s plenty of time to relax, think things through and even be mindful.
The main problem with self-tanner is that it’s quite hard to achieve a natural-looking tan that is even and lasts long enough. But through the years of self-tanning, I’ve found that doing these 5 critical things helps to achieve that perfect tan that is not orange, not streaky, and simply looks flattering.
If you’re looking to try self-tanning, or improve your tanning results, they will definitely help you! Plus, I will show you my favorite self-tanners that are not expensive and get the job done well.
5 Critical Self Tanner Tips For Natural & Even Looking Tan All Year Round
1. Read Reviews Before Buying Your Self Tanner
I can’t even count how many times I’ve bought a self-tanner that looked amazing on the outside (ah, those beautiful packagings and promises, right?)… Yet a lot of them turned out terrible. This problem had me stuck on cheap drugstore self-tanners for years just because they were decent and I didn’t want to waste more money on just trying things out.
Here’s what to do: before buying a self-tanner, go online and look straight for its reviews. Or even better – do proper research to find a few product brands that fit your idea of perfect tan and then scour the internet or local beauty stores for the best price.
This way you’re not wasting your time, not risking to wake up orange after a bad tanner, and save money.
Speaking of bad tanners… It’s essential to find a good quality self-tanner. Sure, you can use a cheaper drugstore brand (and some of them are quite good), but if you want a natural-looking tan, it’s best to choose a brand that focuses ONLY on self-tanning products. These companies usually have better product formulations and it’s easier to achieve great results with them.
I also noticed that drugstore self-tanners like Dove, Nivea, Loreal, or Garnier leave a very strong and lasting self-tanner smell, which is noticeable even after a few showers. Meanwhile, tanners from strictly self-tanning brands seem to be less smelly and fade out more evenly. We will get to my favorites soon, but now – the critical tip number 2.
2. Always Hydrate The Drier Parts
This is extremely important unless you want to rock them super-dark-orangey-brown elbows, knees, or feet (I mean, there MUST be people who like them!).
Here’s the thing – the drier the skin, the more tanner it will absorb. And our knees, elbows, and feet are usually drier than other parts of the body.
To prevent them from getting too dark, liberally moisturize these areas just before applying your self-tanner (oil-free moisturizer is recommended). It will create a sort of protective film and prevent too-much-tanner disasters.
I also like to moisturize my wrists, palms, and the area around my underarms since those tend to soak more tanner as well.
3. Use a Tanning Mitt, Even With Lotions
Have you ever seen self-tanner palms? If not, they’re orange, they’re smelly and they look terrible. I gotta be honest – I just hate them.
To avoid that, and to have a smoother, more even application, always use a tanning mitt.
Now, I know a lot of people don’t use mitts when applying self-tanner lotions, because you supposedly just have to wash your hands after and you will be fine. Well, at least that’s what they say… In reality, it doesn’t work.
Applying your self-tanner evenly takes quite some time and it’s enough for your palms to soak up so much product that they will definitely turn dark or orange. To prevent that – use a mitt!
A good self tanning mitt also makes self-tanning more enjoyable because you don’t have to worry about being quick and it’s easier to blend your tan.
And for hard-to-reach places, like your back, you can get a long self-tanning mitt / band that solves this problem:
4. Blend Tricky Areas With a Big Kabuki Brush
I learned this trick a few months ago and it makes a huge difference! After applying your self-tanner, use the big Kabuki brush (with no product added) to blend tricky areas like your chin, wrists, around your underarms, feet, ankles, and hairline.
You should not apply too much tanner on your fingers too (they tend to tan weirdly) so you can just gently swipe on them what’s left on your mitt, and blend with a brush. This helps your hands to tan beautifully!
5. Build Up The Color With Stronger Tanner, Then Use a Lighter One To Maintain it
And this one is my favorite! Usually, a good self-tanner should last up to a week. But with this technique, I’ve been able to extend a great looking tan for about 10 days!
Here’s how it works:
1. Use a stronger (or darker) self-tanner to build your desired color. Now, I tried a ton of self-tanners and the one that works best for me + is inexpensive is the St. Moriz Self-tanning Mousse:
It is a cheaper alternative to the cult St. Tropez tanners and I’ve found that results are pretty much similar. The color is natural, no orange undertones, the tan develops evenly, it smells nice and my boyfriend complimented this tan many times, so I guess it does look great. 😉
You can also use it twice (just not on the same day) to create a really deep tan that looks like you’ve been on vacation. People legit keep asking me where I’ve been… I never tell them I’ve just been in my bathroom!
Another thing I love about this self-tanning mousse is the price point. It’s only 8$ per bottle and this bottle lasts many, many times (while most self-tanning lotions are gone after 3-4 uses).
It has a dark color guide that helps you apply your tanner as evenly as possible and beware – this WILL look blotchy once applied, but it will look nice even when you wash off the color guide after 4-6 hours. Just don’t tan before going out, leave it for the days when you’re at home or do it before going to bed.
So… Overall a great product! I use this to build up my tan in two consecutive days.
2. Once you have the desired color, use a gradual self-tanner to keep the color nice and even for longer.
“Yeah, well, that just makes it another self-tanner application.”
Yes, if you use a regular tanner… No, if you use an in-shower one!
Now, this is probably my favorite find of the year – this In Shower Tanning Lotion by St. Tropez:
This is a gradual tanner that is used in the shower, for three minutes, and washed off afterward. That’s right! Just three minutes and you’re good to go, the tan will develop gradually over the day!
It works just perfectly, the color is nice (requires a few applications until you reach medium glow), looks natural, no sticky feeling, no streaks, no dreading that your self-tanner will stain your clothes, you don’t need to be afraid of water. It works pretty well as a stand-alone tanner for people with lighter skin. I personally love to use it as a maintenance tanner that helps to prolong your deeper tanner.
It’s a little more expensive than St. Moriz products, but if you use it just once or twice a week, it will last a long time. If you use it alone as a base tanner, you will probably need 3-5 applications to reach a deeper color so, in that case, it does get quite expensive.
And that is it! These are my favorite methods to achieve and keep a beautiful tan without harming your skin with UV rays (and yes, sunscreen is still important!). I hope you try them and rock that beautiful, natural-looking tan that gets complimented on all year round! 😉