My Self Tanning Routine

Best Self Tanning Products

swimsuit {size up one size, also the color runs when it’s wet but I’ve only noticed it when running my suit through the shower} // sunglasses // bag // bracelets {use code AMY15 for 15% off!}

My Self Tanning All Star Team

A few weeks ago I asked everyone on Instagram about what type of content they’d be interested in seeing me share this month, and I got a number of requests for my self tanning routine and favorite self tanners (which I guess I’ve yet to do a full post on!). 

So I decided to take a deeper look into all of the self tanning products I’ve tried before, and list out my top favorites from each category. Hopefully you can find something that you may be interested in– as these are all very popular and well-loved brands and items! I dive into each one below, and explain exactly why I’ve found them to be so easy to apply and how they create such natural looking tans. 

Now, full disclosure– there’s always a little risk in self tanning, but like anything in beauty, once you give it a little practice and figure out what works best for you, you’ll get the hang of it and will be able to apply whatever product you’re using flawlessly. I swear that back in college my girlfriends and I used to self tan ourselves for formals while we were tipsy (like what?! Just think of the spots we missed! The streaks! 😂) so if we can do that and come out on the other side of it looking okay, then anyone has the ability to conquer the skills that come along with self tanning. 

Enjoy this deep dive into my tried-and-true products, and of course let me know if you have any favorites that you think I should try next! Happy to be a guinea pig here and report back on what I think and how another product compares to these. 😊 xx

Self Tanning Prep

So before I go to apply any self tanners, I always make sure I have on no makeup, previous self tanner residue, or sweat on me. I will usually shower and exfoliate to remove anything that I just mentioned and make sure that my skin is as smooth as possible to apply the self tanner.

I know it’s also recommended to shave 24 hours in advance of self tanning (to make sure that your pores close up and that you don’t accidentally cut yourself and then apply tanner), but I honestly don’t usually plan that well around it and have never had an issue with shaving soon before I self tan. 

But if you’re going to shave right before you apply self tanner, I would just recommend running your body under some cold water at the end of the shower to try to close your pores up a bit! After the shower, I might put on a thin layer of moisturizer (this shea lotion is a favorite of mine!) if my skin is really dry, but if not I’ll head straight to the tanning part!

Best Self Tanning Products

Self Tanning Products I Swear By

Body Mousse— 

What I Use It For: All-over deep tan before a trip or an event

This is a holy grail beauty item for me and a product I’ve been using for years. It has over 23k loves on Sephora and I don’t doubt that it’s one of the most popular tanning mousses on the market. I will use this before I’m heading on a sunny trip or before I have an event or party I’m going to where I’m dressing up (alright, back in the day when events were a normal occurrence). I use it with an applicator mitt all over my body (I even use it on my face but if you’re nervous about that then head down to the ‘face lotion’ section!) and it goes on so smoothly and evenly. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and has a much better smell than it used to a few years ago (they’ve recently revamped the smell!). You can see a great before/after photo in this product page, but it is known for tailoring to your skin tone to give it a medium-coverage bronze!

Drops

What I Use It For: A pick-me-up face glow!

I recently featured these in my ‘My Top 5 Products I Use for Glowy Skin‘ post, but they are worth talking about again here. I use these at least once a week as part of my nighttime skincare routine, and will mix 2-3 drops with my night cream (that’s important– they are made to mix in with your cream). I rub it all over my face and neck and then will dab off my eyebrows with a soft hand towel (just so that no tanning product gets caught up in my eyebrows!). Then I wake up an actual sunkissed glow… it’s magic, really. I will use the ‘medium’ shade in the winter months when I’m paler, and the ‘dark’ shade in the summer! They are also vegan, cruelty-free, and clean! They have over 145k loves on Sephora’s site as well… this has a cult following!

Face Lotion

What I Use It For: A more prominent tan on my face

If the drops aren’t for you or you don’t want to put the St. Tropez body mousse on your face, I would recommend trying out this face lotion! It’s specifically formulated to be used on your face and not clog your pores or make you break out. It’s a bit thicker than a regular self tanning lotion, so it’s really moisturizing as well. Also! It has a divine coconut scent so you don’t have to suffer through a self tanner smell being so close to your nose. 😂 This tanner has received multiple awards so it’s definitely a crowd favorite as well! Another awesome cruelty-free find. 

Exfoliator

What I Use It For: Prepping my body to be as smooth as possible before I self tan

If I’m going to do a full-body self tan then I will always exfoliate beforehand and make sure I’m as smooth as possible before applying any tanning products. I either reach for my Sabon body scrub, (which is often sold out) or the coconut scrub I’m featuring here. It’s made with sustainably sourced coconut oil and tiny bits of crushed Tahitian coconut shells to leave you feeling silky smooth and polished afterwards! It’s safe for sensitive skin but will still leave you completely exfoliated. Also, I should mention that I turn to this Vitamin C Warming Peel for my skin/neck which is seriously one of my FAVORITE face products of all time. It warms up in your hands and my face feels soft and fresh as a baby’s afterwards!! 

Body Butter

What I Use It For: A quick glow on my body!

This is a rather new product that I tried out and loved immediately! It’s a great option for a more traditional tanning lotion and creates a really pretty, shimmery, and bronzed (not orange) tan. I can apply it directly with my hands (I just make sure to wash them well afterwards) and within a few hours I see a tan starting to form. It’s great for building a tan over a few days, if you don’t want to wake up the next morning a few shades tanner than you were the day before! Another cruelty-free, vegan, and clean product– got to love it. 

Applicator Mitt

What I Use It For: To apply the tanning mousse

I tend to go through applicator mitts in the same speed that I go through tanning mousses– so I usually purchase them together! I’ve found that this one is super gentle, soft, and does a really accurate job of blending all of the mousse so that I don’t wind up with any streaking. It also has a water-resistant barrier so that the mousse doesn’t accidentally get on your palms! I’ve even had Johnny help tan my back with it where I can’t reach, and it looked good afterwards (which is saying a lot, no offense Johnny 😂). After I use it, I’ll run it under some water with a little bit of body soap until most of the mousse is off and then I’ll let it air dry. It’s also one of the least expensive mitts I’ve come across, which is helpful since I go through them pretty frequently.  

Tan Towels

What I Use It For: A ‘traveling tan’ if I’m packing a carry-on

Ah this is one of the travel hacks that my best friend Liza Bart swears by– she always packs a tan towel or two for a quick tan while she’s on a trip. I’ve used them before and really liked how convenient they were since each towel comes in a little pouch and doesn’t require a mitt or anything else to apply it. I just take the wipe and literally ‘wipe down’ everywhere I want to be tan. I’ve never had an issue using them on my face either! They’re ideal to pack in a carry-on or your purse if you can’t bring a whole tanning mousse or lotion bottle. Plus they’re pretty inexpensive in the scheme of tanning. Right now you can get a pack of ten on Amazon for $24, which makes each tan towel only $2.40! You may need to use more than one for your whole body though– I’d try them out and maybe use one on your upper body and another one on your lower body!

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