Self-Tanner Never Looked So Good — My Ultimate Tanning Routine


If you’re a naturally fair person like I am, who on top of that avoids being in the sun like the plague, then you know how difficult summers can be. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with being pale. But my legs are so white that I’m in fear of blinding someone. So, using self-tanner is an absolute must for me. And let me tell you — over the years, I had some serious failures. However, that also means that I have learned so much along the way. So, if you’re also struggling to master the art of sunless tanning, here’s my ultimate tanning routine.

Prep Like a Pro

The key to a flawless tan is all in the prep work. Trust me, it makes all the difference. However, I know — it’s also the most boring and time-consuming part of any tanning routine. So, to keep things realistic, here are just the steps that you absolutely should NOT miss.

Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate: The most important part of your prep routine is exfoliating your skin. This will create a smooth, even surface for your self-tanner. Use a good exfoliating scrub or a dry brush, and pay extra attention to rough areas like elbows, knees, and ankles.

Shave: Shaving is also a form of exfoliation, so make sure to shave any areas where you want a smooth tan. Also, a quick note — you want to do this step one day before you apply your self-tanner, and not the day of!

Shower and Lotion: Before applying self-tanner, you want to take a quick and cool shower. Cool water helps close your pores, which helps prevent those annoying dark spots where the tanner can settle. Additionally, apply a light moisturizer to any dry areas, like your elbows, knees, ankles, and knuckles.

Application Magic

The next step is actually applying your self-tanner. I won’t talk too much about which ones to choose, as this is something that completely depends on your personal preferences and what’s available to you. Personally, I prefer to use a mousse and always go for a light to medium shade to keep things looking as natural as possible.

Use a Tanning Mitt: I always use a tanning mitt to apply my self-tanner! It’s honestly the easiest and most convenient way to do that. Just put a small amount of tanner on the mitt and start with your legs, working your way up.

Circular Motions: Apply the self-tanner in circular motions to avoid streaks. Make sure to blend well around tricky areas like your wrists, ankles, and neck. When it comes to the back, I will usually apply the mitt on a hairbrush or something with a longer handle and just hope for the best. Personally, I always skip my face, and just use a darker foundation shade when applying my makeup. But if you do want to tan your face, I would suggest doing it last with a foundation brush.

Let It Set


This is the part where patience really pays off. And it’s also the one part that a lot of people neglect — letting your self-tanner set.

First of all — you have to allow your self-tanner to dry completely before getting dressed. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes. Wear loose, dark clothing to avoid any transfer. Try to avoid sweating or getting wet for at least 6-8 hours to let the tan fully develop. Overnight is ideal, which is why I always apply my self-tanner before bed.

I like to keep the self-tanner on for 12-14 hours before taking the first shower. And even then, I’ll be super gentle and not use anything too aggressive on my skin. Once you’re out of the shower, pat your skin dry and apply an additional layer of a hydrating body lotion.

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