Let’s talk about how to get the BEST self tan at home, with easy steps that will give you a flawless, professional look, every time.
But first, a story.
As a kid, I was relentlessly teased about how ghostly pale I am, and I HATED it.
One day, fed up, I self decided to put an end to it. I took the few dollars I made babysitting and walked over to Rite-Aid to buy their least expensive self-tanner.
The moment I got home, I slathered that stuff all over, thinking, the more, the better, checking the mirror every few minutes to see if I was transformed into one of the supermodels whose pictures covered the back of my bedroom door.
It never worked.
I never looked like Cindy Crawford or Niki Taylor.
But I also never stopped trying. I was an optimistic kid.
Year after year, I went through the same ritual. With the same results.
It was how my family marked the start of Spring – “Oh look, Meg’s trying to tan again.”
Eventually, I upgraded from Rite-Aid brand to “better” drug store options. Then, when I got a high school job, I splurged on anything I could get my hands on in the department stores.
So I’m not hyperbolic when I say I have tried every self-tanner under the sun.
THANK GOODNESS, products have evolved along with my expectations. I’m not trying to look like a bronzed goddess. Instead, I’ve grown to appreciate my fair and freckled skin.
It’s just that when the sun is shining, I look radioactive, and a good tanner helps to tone it down, even out my skin, hide my veins and cellulite, and help me feel more confident in shorts, skirts, and swimsuits.
How to Get the Best Self Tan at Home
Easy Steps to a Perfect Self Tan
The key to success is all in how you prep your skin. Do not skip this part 🙂
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.
But my all time favorite is Loving Tan’s 2-hour express. I use the medium, which is great for fair skin. They also have dark – ideal if you tan easily.
You’ll achieve a subtle, low maintenance tan.
It doesn’t smell, streak, or stain fabrics – 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! Use an applicator mitt – this will save your hands from getting stained AND help you cover more surface quickly and easily.
I’ve been doing this process on Monday mornings. (It’s just what works with my unconventional work schedule.) Which means I start to prep on Sunday 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 will ensure an even application.
Finally, you can use this on your face, but be careful. Start with one pump, and go from there, paying close attention to your hairline and ears.
Alternatively, you can skip your face and neck and instead use this face oil by Tan-Luxe.
Add a drop or two to your moisturizer right before bed, and you’ll wake up with a natural, sun-kissed glow. I use this regularly even when I don’t go through the self-tanning process.
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.
Shop How to Get the Best Self Tan at Home
Our Style Content is Inspired by Our Readers
Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers.
Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail.
Some links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via our site, we receive a small commission.
If you enjoy our content and would like to help us grow, please follow on Instagram and join our Private Facebook Group to access more advice and exclusive in-depth conversations with other like-minded women.
Sign Up for Daily Content and Receive Our Free Classic Wardrobe Checklist