Easy Steps for a Flawless At Home Self Tan

Since it’s getting to be that time of year, I thought it would be fun to walk you through how I get a natural-looking, streak-free, self-tan at home.

My skin does not tan at all. If I look at the sun the wrong way, I burn and freckle instantly.

Ever since I was 14 and saw supermodel Niki Taylor on the cover of Seventeen Magazine, I’ve been chasing a healthy-looking tan. From drug store-brand formulas that left me the color of baseball dirt, to the modern formulas that actually work, I have tried every product ever on the market, which makes me a bit of an expert.

Over the last few years, in the spirit of saving time, I’ve gone to my neighborhood salon for a bi-weekly spray tan starting right before Memorial Day. This year, unfortunately, our area salons are closed (and may not reopen this summer – insert sobbing emoji), so it’s time to go back to doing it myself.

Luckily, I have loads of experience. 😉

I’m not trying to look like a bronzed goddess, nor am I saying that fair skin isn’t beautiful.

It’s just that I look radioactive on the beach. The tanner helps to tone it down, even out my skin, hide my veins and cellulite and help me feel more confident in shorts and swimsuits.

I mapped out my process below, and shared a step-by-step video over in my Instagram highlights

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☀️Anyone else craving sunshine and normalcy right about now? . 🤚🏼 . This time of year I usually start up my bi-weekly spray tans in anticipation for warmer weather and shorter hemlines. . But since my local salons are nowhere near opening 😭I have to go back to my roots and do it myself. . Luckily, I’ve been self-tanning since I was 14, which pretty much makes me an expert. . So today I’m breaking down my easy at home steps for a flawless at home tan. . Including how to get a natural, streak free application and my favorite products that make the process a breeze. . ☝🏼For the step-by-step guide follow the link in my profile and click “New on the Blog” or head to my highlights to watch the tutorial in full 💕

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Easy Steps to a Perfect Self Tan

Loving Tan Self TannerSelf Tanner, $40 In Medium | In Dark

Skin Prep

The night before you apply your self-tanner, shower, shave and exfoliate, paying extra attention to your elbow, knees, heels and hands and feet. Areas with dry or rough skin will absorb the tanner in a way that will leave it looking dirty. 

After you get out of the shower, dry off and slather your favorite moisturizer all over. 


Be sure you remove any nail polish and push back your cuticles. I also apply some cuticle oil so they do not dry out. Much like rough, dry skin, if your cuticles are dry or overgrown, and come in contact with your tanner, they will quickly turn yellow. 

Do not skip prepping your skin, it makes all the difference in how your tan comes out. 


These days, there are a ton of effective products on the market. It just depends on the results you are looking for and how much time you have. 

The St. Tropez line is terrific, though it will give you a much darker tan. I use it if we are going on vacation, so I start darker than usual, but then it fades throughout the week, extending the life of the tan. 

NDK is another option, with a traditional application process. It goes on like a moisturizer and develops over 7 – 8 hours. 

Lately, I’ve been using Loving Tan’s 2-hour express. I use the medium, which is great for skin that doesn’t naturally tan. They also have dark – ideal if you tan easily.

Loving tan is currently my favorite if you want a subtle, low maintenance tan.

It doesn’t smell, streak, or stain fabrics at- so wins all around.

Because it goes on dark, you can see exactly where you are putting it to make sure it goes on evenly.

Important! Be sure to use an applicator mitt – this will save your hands from getting stained AND help you cover more surface quickly and easily.

Best Practice

I’ve been doing this process on Saturday mornings. Which means I start to prep on Friday night.

In the morning, remove your clothes and put your mitt on your left hand.

With the mitt on your left hand, work from your left leg up your body and apply on your right arm, chest, and neck.

Then switch hands and with the mitt on your right hand, start at the top of your right foot, and apply moving up your body, finishing on your left arm, chest, and neck.

You want to work with two-three pumps at a time.

As you work up your leg and arms, avoid your knee and elbow until there is very little product left on the mitt, then apply to those areas. This helps make sure they blend evenly. 

Finally, be careful applying to your face. You don’t need as much product as you may think. Start with one pump, and go from there, paying close attention to your hairline and ears. 

When you’re done, throw on a loose fitting dress – and skip a bra for a few hours. I keep an old tank dress from when I was pregnant on hand just for this.

With the Loving Tan formula, you let it sit for 2 hours (it drys almost right away) and then hop in the shower to rinse it off. The tan continues to build over the next few hours.


Loving Tan, Two Hour Express Tanning Mouse: In Medium | In Dark

Applicator Mittfor Body and Face

Video How-To: Instagram

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Easy Steps for a Flawless At Home Self Tan
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8 thoughts on “Easy Steps for a Flawless At Home Self Tan”

  1. I love that you are giving us a glimpse into summer and mood boost at the same time. I am just like you. I want some color but am naturally fair so self tanners here I come.

    • I’m on my third application for this bottle and there is plenty left in it – also I’m tall so I would naturally use more 😉

  2. Hi Megan! I’m new to your blog and I love it!! I think I’ve read just about the whole thing this week. Thanks for this very helpful info. I have a quick question — do you get someone to help you put the tanner on your back? or is it good enough with however much you can manage on your own? Just trying to plan ahead! Thanks

    • Hey Julie! If I want to get all of my back, I’ll have my husband or daughter do it but I can manage to reach pretty far if I’m just doing arms and legs and the back of my neck for summer tops, etc.

  3. Thanks for this info. The radioactive white comment really resonated with me. When I went to Italy a few years ago, an ancient mahogany woman watched me climbing out of the rock pool in the Mediterranean, and said: “Molto blanco”. So self tanner it is.


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