The Ins and Outs of Self Tanner

ins and outs of self tanner

The Ins and Outs of Self Tanner

Hello friends.  The temps are rising and the clothes are shrinking.  It’s time to show a little more skin.  However, if you’re a fair-skinned, Irish girl like me, then a tan is simply not going to be happening for you.  Believe me, I have tried to tan every year and mostly all I get is a sunburn. Now that I am getting older, I also need to be careful about additional sun damage.  Therefore, I cannot even attempt to get a tan by spending hours out baking in the sun.  That’s where self-tanner comes in.  Hallelujah for self tanner!  However, they can be a little tricky to use.  That’s where I can help you.  Consider me your personal guide as you navigate these potentially orange tinted waters.

Let me begin by telling you, if you ever see me and it appears that I have a little color on my skin, it’s fake.  Starting in March and winding down in October, any color I have has come from a bottle, a tube, or a spray.  #keepinitreal  I’ve had years of practice at this and I’ve got it down to a science.  Let me tell you what you need to do to enjoy year-round color if that’s what you want.

First, before applying any self-tanner, you need to prep your skin.  A good exfoliation is required.  I’ve used salt scrubs, sugar scrubs, and loofahs.  However, my favorite technique is to use these gloves.  You can pick them up anywhere.  I sometimes even use a salt scrub with the gloves.  I am currently loving this beach sand and sea salt scrub from Bath and Body.  You can find it here.  You also want to shave now if you need to.

With your freshly exfoliated body, you’re ready to apply self tanner.  Some people like to moisturize first to make sure that the skin absorbs the tanner evenly.  If you tend to have dry skin, I would recommend this.  Note though, that you’ll need to moisturize and then wait overnight before applying tanner.  I generally don’t moisturize first because I am ready to get the show on the road.


When you apply the tanner, I would recommend that use a mitt or a pair of latex gloves.  Some tanners will seriously color your palms and even after washing, you may not get it all off.  I begin on my feet and lower legs first and work my way up.  I use circular motions while applying and make sure to rub in completely.  Pay attention to your ankle area and around your knees.  The feet are kind of tricky.  The tanner rubs off if you wear shoes and socks.  It’s a frustration.  I apply it, then if I workout the next day, my feet will look oddly colored in some areas and not others.  It’s a struggle.


Apply the tanner to any area you will be showing.  Me, for example, I will not be wearing a bikini or a crop top.  So, I have no need to tan that area.  I focus on arms, legs, décolleté.  I do not use tanner on my face.  My skin is sensitive so I worry about breakouts.  Also, I use a Clarisonic each day and that tends to scrub the tanner right off.  SO, what’s the point?


Now, let’s talk brands.  I’ve tried them all.  I’m going to share my opinions here, but please let me know in the comments below if you have a different opinion or want to recommend another brand to try.  I ordered Tan Physics, after repeatedly seeing it on Pinterest.  It was a bust.  I do not recommend that one.  I’ve purchased Bath and Body self tanner.  It was just meh.  I also tried Rodan and Fields.  Some people swear by it and love it; however, I didn’t find that it was as good as my regulars.  I have also tried Fake Bake.   It worked great. I loved it, but it’s a little pricey and I found one I liked better.  I have also tried the drugstore brands like Loreal Sublime Bronze with mixed results.  The spray is great for tough to reach areas, but it is messy.


For my money, my top pick is St. Tropez.  It costs around $40, but a little goes a long way so it lasts a while.  I love the mousse because it’s easy to apply and dries quickly.  Also the color I get is a nice brown color and not at all orangey.  They also have a lotion variety which might be good if you tend to have drier skin.  However, I recently bought the shower tanner.  It says to apply it in the shower, wait three minutes and rinse.  I am really disappointed in this product and have seen virtually no results from it.  I do not recommend buying that one.

And just to show  you the color I get with St. Tropez…

before and after self tanner

Here’s a before and after if you will.  Obviously the Casper the Ghost color is without the tanner and below is one application of St. Tropez mousse.  Perhaps fair/pale skin is “in” right now, but I feel better with at least some color.


If you exfoliate first and then remember to moisturize the next day, your tan should last you a few days to a week depending on your activities.  Swimming pools are not a self tanners friend, just FYI.  Here’s a little tip, I use the St. Tropez to get a good base color going.  Then, in between reapplying I will use Jergens self tanner.  It helps extend the life of the tan by adding a little color.  I love that one and it doesn’t smell bad either  -as some tanners do.  It also doesn’t hurt that costs around $9.

When your tan has faded and you’re ready to reapply, start the process over.  The exfoliating is key to getting the tan to last.


I hope these tips help you get some color this summer the safe way.  Don’t forget, I would love to hear your recommendations.  Have I missed a brand that you love?  Let me know.  Have a great day, friends!

Until next time~



  1. I’m a Rodan+Fields junkie, it’s the best color I’ve ever gotten! Exfoliating before any tanner is the key. Thanks for linking up to #HomeMattersParty

    1. Author

      Hi Emily. Thanks for weighing in…I didn’t have a lot of luck with that brand, but I”m super curious about their skincare line. Have you tried any of their products?

      1. I’m actually a consultant! I have had amazing results with everything! I’d love to help you out if you want to try the products (, email me

  2. Hi,
    Thank you for bringing your post to last week’s Pit Stop.
    Janice, Pit Stop Crew

    1. Author

      Thanks so much for the feature! I am so flattered & super excited about it. I wasn’t sure about this post so I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for visiting.

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