Self-Tanning 101: The Best Tanning Products & A Guide To Faking A Bronzed Glow!

Ah remember the good old days when we passed baby oil around the pool like it was rosé. Sunscreen? What was that? Now I wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without at least SPF 30. Faking a faux glow sounds intimidating for those of us who grew up in the beauty era of the “orange” spray tan. But times have changed and the beauty world has become more sophisticated! Self-tanners have new and improved formulas that sync with the melanin in our skin for a bronze glow instead of Donald Trump orange.

I’ve done all the trial and error for you and have tried MANY a self-tanners. I have my self-tanning routine down to a tee and I’m here to spill all my self-tanning secrets. Let’s begin with my pre-tan routine.

photo from my instagram

Pre-Tan Routine

A deep exfoliation is the key to a perfect faux tan. The day before you plan on applying your self-tan hop into the shower and shave and exfoliate. It is SUPER important that you do not miss this step because if you don’t get rid of the top layer of dead skin your tan will look patchy AF. Shaving the day before is also key because it will allow your pores to close ensuring you won’t get weird brown dots on your legs (if you know you KNOW).

I prefer to use those loofa gloves to exfoliate and I also dry brush before I hit the shower too. Dry brushing is so good for you (do you guys want a blog post about this?) and I just find that double the exfoliation really ensures my body is a completely blank canvas. Here’s a link to my favourite exfoliating gloves!

Moisturizing Before & After Tanning

Pre-Tan: Do not moisturize!!!!!! Moisturizer acts like a barrier on your skin and won’t allow your tan to really sink in and develop properly. This can result in little to no colour pay off or a patchy, streaky mess on your limbs.

Most self-tanners take about 4-8 hours to develop. I apply my tan at night and sleep in it. In the morning I rinse off the excess bronzer and voila! Bronzy, sun-kissed skin. Your tan will continue to develop for the next 24-48 hours even after you’ve rinsed. This is why I like to apply my tan two days before any big event.


Post-Tan: Alright so your tan is developed and you’re looking like a golden little nut. Now how do you take care of your tan to make sure it lasts? MOISTURIZE!!!!!! There is only one rule to keeping your faux tan hydrated and that is to avoid moisturizes that have oils as their base. Oils eat away at your fake tan. I recommend using a body butter! I love the Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Body Butter but a more affordable option is the Shea Body Butter by The Body Shop.

Tan Application: The Do’s & Do Not’s

Applying your tanner can be tricky. I think this is what turns people off the most about self-tanning. It is a process that really requires patience. A lot of you asked me how to avoid making your wrists/hands/ankles from looking splotchy or super dark and the application process is really the key to making these parts look seamless. First, moisturize your hands, wrists, feet and ankles. When you are applying your tanner rub it into your body in circular motions and stand in front of a well lit mirror so you can see any of the spots you may have missed – I only use tanners that have a colour guide to make sure I don’t miss any spots. When you get to your wrists, hands, feet and ankles you want to just use the excess tanner on your glove. This will save you from having splotchy areas or really dark hands and feet. Once you are done applying your tanner wash your hands – this will rinse off the excess tanner and keep you from having streaky wrists and ankles. Always apply your tan with a tanning mitt – my favourite is the loving tan applicator mitt! They also have a really neat back applicator if you don’t have somebody to help tan your back.

Best Tanning Products? Here’s The Tanning Tea

In my opinion Australia has the BEST self-tanning products. I’ve tried so many self-tanning products that I’ve lost count and I always circle back to these three aussie babes. My favourites are Loving Tan, Bondi Sands & Bali Body. You really cannot go wrong with any of these brands and their self-tanning products but I’ll give you the tea on what I love most about each one.

Loving Tan Deluxe Bronzing Mousse Ultra Dark has the best colour. I always get complimented on my tan when I use this. It’s a true brown tan and will sync with the melanin in your skin to give you the deepest tan possible. It’s pretty expensive but it’s truly the darkest tan out of three. If you’re looking to be as dark as possible I would recommend this!

Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam Dark has the best smell. If you have any experience with self-tanners you know that they can smell weird. This tanner is infused with aloe vera and coconut. The light coconut scent is great especially if you wanna tan then cuddle with your significant other. This tan is also great for beginners because it blends easily and never looks streaky or blotchy. I reach for this product when I decide to tan last minute and just want to slap it on and head to bed.

Bali Body Self Tanning Mousse is the new kid on the block. It’s enriched with chamomile extract, antioxidant coffee seed extract & rejuvenating pomegranate extract. This combo smooths, hydrates and tans! The scent is incredible (think citrusy beachy vibes). This is the only self tanner I’ve used that actually made my skin feel super hydrated post-application. It also has DHA technology that customizes your tan so you never look “too dark” or “too light” it truly gives you your goldilocks tan. I love this product so much and can’t wait to see the other self-tanning products that Bali Body comes out with!

Final Self-Tanning Secrets

Of course I have to save the best secrets for last! Here are my last few tips for the ultimate faux glow:

1. Always pat dry after a shower – you’ll rub your tan off if you don’t!
2. Yes, you can use self-tanner on your face. No, I don’t put self-tanner on my face. It’s all personal preference!
3. Fake tanning = darker foundation. When picking one that matches your tan I recommend going for foundation formulas that have a yellow undertone.
4. Yes, most self-tanners will come off on your sheets so wear baggy loose pants and long sleeved tops if you’re planning on sleeping in your tan. Or just buy cheap “tanning” sheets.


Okay my loves after reading this you should be ready to conquer the self-tanning world and find the right product for you. I hope this was helpful and answered any questions you may have had about faking a holiday away.

As always, thank you for reading.

XOXO Laur

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