Sunless tanning is something I do on an inconsistent basis, but definitely year round. I don’t have a strict weekly routine for it, but if I have an important photo shoot, event, or trip coming up, sunless tanning is beauty routine I definitely make time for. I’m naturally very fair and pale, so a subtle veil of sunkissed tan makes a huge difference. It always adds a little boost of confidence in photos or wearing my favorite summer outfits. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks and found some amazing products I go back to again and again. Here are all my sunless tanning essentials.
Drugstore Tanning Pick: Jergens Natural Bronze Deep Bronze Sunless Tanning Mousse
Budget-friendly and readily available! This has been a long time favorite since working with Jergens on this sponsored post in 2017. It gives a lovely color and is really easy to use.
Luxury Tanning Pick: St Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse
This is the total package when it comes to sunless tanning. It’s dark, it develops quickly, and it lasts the longest of everything in this list. It has to be my ultimate favorite tanner, but it’s also the most expensive.
Most Practical Tanning Pick: St Tropez Purity Bronzing Water Mousse
If you have little to no down time, I recommend trying a sunless tanner that works with your schedule. This is one you can wear to work without stress because it’s a clear water mousse. The wonderful thing about tanning waters is that they have no guide color, meaning no issues with stained clothing, towels, bedding, and so on. It has a fun tropical scent, too!
Gradual Tanner for Face: St Tropez Everyday Tinted Moisturizer & Primer
I never apply the tanning mousses to my face because my skin is so sensitive. This is an excellent product for helping match your face to your body color. I apply this product with my hands like a primer, wash my hands as I let it dry. Most of the time I top it with foundation, but if I’m on vacation or having a no-makeup day I will just wear it alone. This product does not contain sun protection, so be sure to use SPF if going outside.
As for prep, I recommend doing a thorough body exfoliation and shave before sunless tanning. Use a body scrub that doesn’t contain too much oil, or better yet keep it simple and just use a natural luffa or exfoliating glove with castile soap. Dry brushing a few days leading up to the tan is a smart idea too.
In terms of application, I always use a tanning mitt to apply sunless tanning mousse. However, I don’t have a favorite mitt brand at the moment. A lot I’ve tried have been low quality. If you’re stuck with a thin or porous mitt, I recommend applying an unscented lotion before application, and then washing your hands thoroughly after to prevent blotchy staining. For optimal results, apply a tiny amount of body lotion to stubborn dry areas and creases of the body like elbows, knees, and ankles.
Usually I apply tanner at night, so after it dries I can just go to sleep while the tan develops. After showering in the morning, I start to see the color develop on my skin but I might not see the full extent of the color until the following day. The great thing about the Self Tan Express is that it works in 1-3 hours, so it’s an ideal product to have on standby for last minute needs.
In terms of preserving the tan, in the days post-application try to avoid body lotions with alcohols or fragrance, and anything with chemical or physical exfoliants. Many of my favorite body lotions are geared toward eczema-prone skin, so they are usually already fragrance-free. The Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer is also amazing at prolonging the color and integrity of the tan.
What are your best kept self tanning secrets? Let me know in a comment down below!
The only time I tried to self-tan it was a disaster. I didn’t know about exfoliating so I just shaved my legs and thought that would be enough. I ended up with orange stripes. I wore pants for a long time after. Things have definitely improved lately though.
I know the feeling! There’s definitely a learning curve with sunless tanning, and I still make mistakes here and there. I need to try tanning with a synthetic kabuki brush, I heard that makes application super easy.
Julie Ruhl says
Love these recommendations! I’m always looking for safer ways to have that sun kissed glow! Especially being from the Midwest in the brutal winters. Our skin is too important and precious to damage!
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
I’ve never tried any type of tanning products!
It’s been a while since I’ve used sunless tanning (the one time I did try it, the lotion smelled so bad that I couldn’t stick with it) but I may have to give some of these a try!
I know that gross tanning smell! It can be so off-putting and not at all practical if you have stuff to do. Try the Purity Water, it smells like tropical heaven.
I love the Jergens Tanning line, I have every single one!!! One thing I do need is a sponge or mitt to apply it! Thank you for your suggestions, this is super helpful!!!
I’ve used Jergens sunless tanning products and liked it. I’ll have to try some of the others too! Great review.
Jennifer Maune says
I love St Tropez! Jergens is good too, but I love that St Tropez is the total package. Great tips for extending my summer glow into the fall months!