How to Get the Perfect (fake) Tan

Before I went to California a month ago, I was paleeeee. I mean I’m pretty pale again now, but it was bad then. Winter is pretty brutal in Indiana and any color that I had gained last summer was long gone. I did not want to lay out on the beach or any wear shorts or dresses looking like a complete vampire.  Since I have sworn off tanning beds, I resorted to my go-to tanning lotions and potions.  I’ve been using tanning lotions/sprays for like 10 years now (yeah I know, I started pretty young..) so naturally, I have learned some tips and tricks.  There have definitely been days where I’ve resembled an Oompa Loompa, or have had strange streaks on my legs, or orange hands… but I’ve also had many successes with tanning lotion.  I’m all for a $9 bottle at the drugstore. It’s a cheap, quick, temporary fix that (with a little practice) totally works.

So here’s some advice if you’re going to skip the tanning salon and DIY.

Test it out. If this is your first time using tanning lotion.. test it out first.  Get a cheap travel bottle of Jergens Natural Glow ($2 at CVS) and just try it on your legs. Don’t do this the night before a big event, but just do it on a random day where you can wear jeans the next day if it looks bad.

Shave and exfoliate. Shaving takes most of the tanner off so make sure you get a good shave in before you apply.  Also, use a loofah or exfoliater to scrub away dead skin. Tanning lotion loves to stick onto dry patches and looks really bad, so always scrub those dry spots away first. After I get out of the shower, I dry off completely then apply right away!

Apply the tanner evenly. The last thing you want is streaks down your legs and arms.  Make sure you apply a layer of tanner all over the areas that you want to tan.  If you’re using a spray or mist tanner, hold the bottle far enough away that it’s an even mist on your body. You don’t want to hold it too close where it’s super concentrated and ends up dripping on your skin.  If you're using lotion, rub it in well and don't miss spots!

Don’t forget the back of your hands and top of your feet.  Make sure you rub some lotion from your wrist to the back of your hands and also from your ankles to the tops of your feet.  These are commonly missed areas that just scream "I USE FAKE TANNER". People usually cut off applying lotion right at their wrists and ankles and it looks really funky. This leads me to my next point…

Wash your hands! If you don’t wash your hands they will be super orange.  But here’s my advice: Use soap and water to rub the insides of your palms and fingers together. Rub in between your fingers, but don’t wash off the back of your hands!  Make sure the lotion stays on the back of your hands.  You don’t want it to look like your hands have been in gloves your whole life and never seen the light of day.

You can always correct with lotion.  Whenever feel like I put too much lotion on my legs/ arms or if I sprayed unevenly, I just correct this with normal lotion.  I just rub a moisturizing lotion all over my arms/legs, immediately after spraying, to even out the color.   

You will smell. I don’t care if it says "odor-less", you will smell. It’s just how tanners are made. They stink! I like to self tan before bed then wake up in the morning and shower again.

Avoid "Instant Bronzers": Some sunless tanners have an instant bronzer in them that darkens your skin on the spot. It's basically like putting makeup on your skin, which means if you get wet at all, it will look splotchy or if you are wearing a white shirt it will rub off on it.  I bet you can think of many situations where this instant bronzer could go wrong. I like to stick to the gradual tanners.  It won't look like anything at first but when you wake up in the morning, you will have some nice color.

Skip the face and neck: I never apply tanner to myface.. that's what bronzer is for! Plus it makes me break out and usually it will come off anyways if you use exfoliating face wash. Same with my neck. I usually just apply some bronzer to my neck to match my face makeup. Self tanner can look reallyyyy bad on the neck if it starts to fade. You can easily look like a reptile. 

Okay, guys. I think that's all I've got! Let me know if you have any questions. Everyone's different, but this is what I've found works for me!

Oh, and my two favorite drugstore tanners are:

Spray: L'Oreal Paris Sublime ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist (Medium Natural Tan)

Lotion: Jergens Natural Glow Daily Mositurizer (Fair to Medium for winter, Medium to Tan for summer)

What are your favorite sunless tanners? Have you found any that don't smell?!



Outfit details: Shirt- Forever 21 (sold out, but linked similar), Shorts- Urban Outfitters, Shoes- H&M