I posted a rather lengthy set of Instagram stories two weeks ago recapping my first foray into at-home tanning! If you missed it, not to worry — I saved it all to a highlight so you can reference it forevs. I showed exactly how much product I used, where I messed up, techniques for hands and feet, etc. It’s quite detailed, so I definitely recommend watching that to complement this post!
While I’m all about SPF and spray tans, my only at-home tanning experience had been with gradual tan lotions. Namely, this Jergens one and this St Tropez one, which are great for giving you a little extra glow over time without worrying about streaking, discoloration, or anything like that. It’s truly just as simple as swapping one of those products in place of your usual body lotion! Easy peasy.
But if you want a bit more color, or want to see color much faster, it’s time to take the next step! (Or, you know, if you’re currently under quarantine and can’t get to your go-to spray tanner, you have to take matters into your own hands.)
I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally feel SO MUCH BETTER when I have some color on my skin. Especially on my face… Nothing beats the feeling of having a little glow without having to put makeup on! And in trying times like we’re experiencing now, I’ve found that the littlest of things can make such a difference in my mood. Sure, it’s seemingly superficial, but I’ve always subscribed to the notion of look good, feel good. I always feel so much better when I like my outfit or feel like I’m lookin’ cute. And for me, having a spray tan makes me feel like a million bucks! But since that’s not on the table right now, a little self-tanner makes me feel like at least a few thousand. 😂
Let me preface this post by saying that I’m a complete novice when it comes to at-home self-tanning! If you’re a faux glow pro, you can probably teach me a few tricks. But after many YouTube tutorials and years of experience in the beauty industry, here’s what I know…
First and foremost, you have to do your prep work! 24 hours beforehand, you want to make sure you exfoliate really well to get all of that dead skin off. Your tan will develop more evenly, and fade more evenly, too. (I love this Dove body exfoliating polish! Can’t beat the price, and I love how fine the grain is. I use it with these exfoliating gloves.) You also want to shave, etc beforehand!
Before you start, it’s imperative to apply a light lotion to your dry areas beforehand — hands, wrists, elbows, knees, feet, etc. (I used this one from Philosophy, but any moisturizer should work.) I do this right after I get out of the shower and dry off.
As pictured above, I used the Purity line from St Tropez. The Purity products go on clear, and you don’t have to rinse off! However, you can’t get your skin wet for eight hours after applying. You’ll start to notice a glow after three hours, and your fully developed tan after eight hours. The tropical scent smells so good, but it’s overpowering! And it really helps with not having that usual “self tan smell” from the DHA. Comparing the Gel and the Mousse, I think the Gel has a stronger scent and masks the tan smell a lot better!
Using a mitt is a must! These tanning mitts are reusable, so you want to rinse it off (and maybe use a mild cleanser like baby shampoo) between uses, but wait to wash it off until after your tan is fully developed! I saved the plastic sleeve it comes in to store in between uses.
I’ve now tried both the Mousse and the Gel (each one time), and if I had to pick one, I’d definitely choose the Gel! I’m shocked that the Sephora reviews aren’t better for the Gel, but I have to imagine that people might already be used to the Mousse and prefer that? I also found that the Gel made hand and feet application a lot easier. Again, watching my video tutorial on Instagram will help with a visual!
The Bronzing Water Face Mist is AMAZING! You use 5-6 full sprays for your face, neck, and chest. The mist is *so* fine!! No need to blend in! (I did my whole tanning process with this hair turban on!) It’s such a great product, and so easy to use!
I think this formula is great for fair skin tones! In my videos, you can see the discoloration on my mitt afterwards, and it’s just a golden-y yellow tint, not a dark orange. The first time I tanned myself, I did one coat of the Gel. And the second time, I did two coats of the Mousse. (Applied it all over once, and then did it again to make sure I got everywhere and blended well.) And neither time did I look too dark or too orange! It’s a very natural, golden looking tan with my fair skin tone. It seems hard to make an overly visible mistake!
Once you’ve applied your self-tanner, you want to wait for it to dry completely before getting dressed. (15-30 minutes to be safe.) With the Gel, I didn’t feel any stickiness at all, which was amazing! But with the Mousse, I definitely felt sticky, and it took a lot longer to dry. I even used my blowdryer after 20 minutes to try to make sure it was dry!
A note about the clear formula… It’s great that it goes on clear for many reasons, but it can make it harder to know where all you’ve applied, especially if you’re new to self-tanning. That’s another reason I prefer the Gel over the Mousse, the formula is obviously more wet and makes it a bit easier to know where you’ve applied.
Oh, and be sure to wash your palms when you’re done! 🤗