Self Tanner Isn’t Just For Suckers (Make Yourself A Believer With This Method)


The Vice: Self tanner. I’ve written about it before with my explorations into body makeup, or my forays in to black tea (it’s about as weird as it sounds), but I’ve still never been a fan. I’m about as big a fan of tanner as I am of anyone seeing what I look like in a bikini, but I’m braving both because I love you guys so much. As someone with natural olive pigment to my skin [despite sickness and mountain air perpetually working its pail self against me), I still hate the orange, streaky, smelly cluster schmuck of a mess that is faux-bake. So why am I tolerating it’s falsities now? Read on…

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The Fix: Apparently, the key to a realistic looking glow is…. mixing. Simply using one brand alone doesn’t do the trick, and/or leaves you subject to the downsides of that product (because frankly, they all have one). Here is what gives the bronze look you’ve been craving, without the funk…

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* Mix & Match: I apply self-tanner twice a week. Always after a super intensive bath (I mix a little bit of brown sugar with some spare conditioner for a super awesome scrub) and letting myself air dry. I have three self tanners I’m using right now:

Bare Escentuals Faux Tan: This stuff is really expensive and most moms I know (including myself) can’t afford it but I’m not going to lie… it’s the best. It is super dark and intimidating to look at, yes, but gives a reality bites kinda glow that you just can’t beat. Because it’s so pricey, I use this every-other tanning session, and always mix with one of the other two tanners listed to keep it balanced and make it last longer. You can also use 50% of this tanner, and 50% of the borderline-free black tea tanner brew mentioned in a previous post so that you water it down and limit your chances of streakage. You can also scope out other scary-dark looking alternatives on Amazon (like Sun Self Tanning Lotion Ultra Dark) with equally good reviews and take the same approach.

* L’oreal Sublime Bronze: I’ve heard mixed reviews about this from other beauty fanatics. Even though my Mr. Ripley inclinations are less obsessive for this versus the Bare Escentuals above, it really does work some kind of magic when mixed with the Banana Boat shade below. I have no idea why they two mesh so well together, but they do (don’t fight it. Just accept)

* Banana Boat Summer Color: This one develops more gradually than the afore mentioned two, which makes for a good buffer in terms of breaking up the darker options. Basically, it’s the perfect mixer and/or booster for the darker varieties. You can also use any derivative of Jergen’s Natural Glow (I personally use the generic version which is only about $4 at my local grocery store), but I find this better as a mid-week moisturizing “tan encourager” rather than a booster.

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* Have A System: Basically, I mix and match 2 of the tanners one day, and 2 of the tanners another day to keep the look believable and fresh (it’s the same concept as changing up your shampoo often, or at least that’s what I tell myself). If you are naturally very fair, I would recommend always mixing one medium shade with one light shade. If you are fair but have darker undertones like I do, than you can mix a medium with a deep. I wouldn’t recommend ever layering deep-on-deep, because you’re going to get some kind of “Aguilera circa Figher” action happening that no one wants.

* Break It Up: I do the 50/50 concoction in my palm (if only it included Joseph Gordon Levitt too), and apply to one zone at a time. Normally I hit up a leg, then another. Wash my hands with soap. Then my chest and arms. Wash my hands. Then my stomach and lower back. The final time I wash my hands, I add a squirt of hydrogen peroxide and toothpaste to my palms [or a little bit of that brown sugar scrub] and scrub like Dexter after a binge. While you’re at it, scrub your teeth with that hydro-paste mixture and get a whiter grin too. Make sure you really get between your fingers, along the sides of your hands and on your wrists, because sometimes those areas look weird the next day. If you’re lazy like me, I’ll sometimes add one squirt of bleach cleaning spray in my palms along with soap, scrub, and then use a lot of lotion so my hands don’t dry out… after which, I actually squirt down the tub and pretend I’m good at housework. Weird, yes, but it works.

* Water It Down: If you are scared of looking too dark or streaking, don’t be afraid to water it down. I keep a squirt bottle of the black tea mixture (which smells amazing too) or some rose-infused water nearby, and do a few squirts per every palm-full which almost always guarantees I won’t have a fake looking glow the next day (but it still comes out surprisingly dark).

* Hang Out Naked: I always apply self tanner before anything else in my nighttime routine so I can hang out in the buff while it sinks in. So I might wash my face, brush my teeth, clean the tub, organize something, check email… but I try to give myself a good 20 minutes of “McConaughey bongo time” prior to donning clothes and taking care of my children. The best option is do your bath/tan routine two nights a week after they’re in bed or while they’re bribed with some kind of movie & popcorn combo (always good leverage).


Want to share these trials and tribulations? What better place than the Visual Vice board on Pinterest. Pin it proud!

Speak Up: Which of these tricks have you tried?

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