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How to apply Self Tanner

foot print
If you are using lots of sunscreen like you should be to keep your skin healthy and beautiful, you won't have the dark golden tan that you want. 

So, add color with self tanner!

The picture above is the deck at a beach house we rented in Sea Isle City, NJ. Someone before us used the deck to get their spray tan on!😂

There are cream, mousse and spray self tanner formulas. All will create a nice tan. The formula is your preference. There are also different strength formula for the color tan you want such as medium or medium dark.

Some self tanners are tinted so you can see exactly where you have applied it. The tint will wash off in the shower. Don't worry, it's not your tan washing off! 

The tan will take a few hours to develop. The ingredient is self tanners is dihydroxyacetone. It is actually a naturally derived ingredient from plants including sugar beets and sugar cane. The dihydroxyacetone interacts with the amino acids in the top layers of the skin causing it to darken. It doesn't damage the skin in any way.

People with sensitive skin should do a patch test on a small area before applying self tanner all over to sure their skin isn't irritated by it.

I have include a list of amazing cruelty free self tanning products in this post along with my Amazon Associate links for your shopping convenience. There are a variety of self tanner cream, mousse and spray formulas in a variety of price points so you can choose your preferred formulation. 

There are some great alternatives to Jergen's Natural Glow which is tested on animals on the list.
Here are some application tips to get a gorgeous streak free fake tan.

How to Apply Self Tanner 

Start by prepping the skin to get the smoothest streak free tan.

Exfoliate First
Exfoliate your skin well with a dry body brush before you shower or use a body scrub in the shower. Concentrate on thick skin areas such as the feet and knees.


Massage on a light film of moisturizer. This will help prevent pores from darkening too much causing them to stand out.

Oil Thick Skin

Apply a thin layer of an oil, thick moisturizer or petroleum jelly to feet, knees and other areas of thickened skin so they don't get too dark. Olive oil or coconut oil are great natural oils to use.

Thickened skin includes a beauty mark, mole or other spots that has a thicker texture than the rest of your skin. They will grab onto the self tanner and look darker.

Wear Gloves

Wear gloves while you spread on the self tanner to keep your palms from turning dark during application.


Apply self tanner sparingly on areas of thick and/or calloused skin such as the feet, ankles, knees, elbows, knuckles, etc.

There are some tricks to get the best application of a cream, mousse or spray self tanner. I will give you both the cream/ mousse method and the spray method to help you get the best looking streak free tan.

Cream/Mousse Self Tanner Application Tips

Apply Section by Section
Work on one section of the body at a 
time. For your legs, do the calf, then do the thigh. For the arms, do the lower arm, then do the upper arm and so on. You have more control going section by section.

Apply the Cream
Put a quarter sized dollop of the cream self tanner in the palm of your gloved hand. Then, apply it to your skin massaging it in a circular motion evenly over one section of your body. Use both of your gloved hands to smooth and massage the self tanner over the skin until it's well blended. Move along section by section. 

Go light on thick skin
Any thick areas of the tanner may look blotchy or streaky so massage the tanner in especially well on those areas. 

Add a second coat
One good layer is usually enough. Do a second coat after the first layer has dried if you are looking for more color.

Let it dry
Wait until tanner is dry before dressing. Avoid contact with water for 4-6 hours. The initial colorant will wash off when you shower but a nice tan will remain.  The fake tan will gradually wear off like a real tan does.

Reapply every 3-4 days to keep your tan.

Spray Self Tanner Application Tips

Apply Section by Section
Spray the tanner on section by section holding the can 12"-14" from your skin. 

Spray Long Strokes
Use long strokes to apply a thin layer of tanner. You will still need use your gloved hands to smooth out the spray in a circular motions. Let it dry. Then, you can apply another thin layer if you want. Do not spray your face. Spray the tanner onto a sponge and apply it to your face.

Watch out for Over Spray 
Be careful where you are while applying your spray tan. The over spray gets everywhere!  I like to spray tan outside or in the shower with the shower curtain closed so I can wash off 

the shower when I am done.

Read How to Apply Spray Tanner to your Face

Let it dry

Wait until tanner is dry before dressing. Avoid contact with water for 4-6 hours. The initial colorant will wash off when you shower but a nice tan will remain.  The fake will gradually wear off like a real tan does.

Reapply every 3-4 days to keep your tan.

How to Fix a Self Tanner Blotch or Streak

lemon and salt
You try so hard to get your self tanner on perfectly but you sometimes end up with a streak or blotch.  Exfoliate it!

You can fix it with 1/2 of a lemon sprinkled with salt. Rub the salted lemon on the tanner defect to slough it away. You get the dual action exfoliation from the grainy salt and the fruit acid exfoliation from the lemon.

The Best Cruelty Free Self Tanners

Fake Bake Flawless Mousse Self Tanner
Fake Bake Flawless Mousse Self Tanner with Mitt
One of my favorite self tanner brands for a natural looking golden tan! This is the easy to apply mousse formula that comes with a mitt to use for an easy application. $31.00

Body Drench Quick Tan Medium Lotion
Body Drench Quick Tan Gradual Tanning Lotion
This light lotion gradually builds up a golden tan while moisturizing your skin with it aloe formula. Made in USA $11.20
Buy on Amazon
Australian Gold Instant Sunless Tanning Lotion
Australian Gold Instant Sunless Tanning Lotion 
It's a great inexpensive self tanning lotion for a medium golden tan. You can find this product in many drug and superstores. $13.39

Supergoop Healthy Glow Sunless Tan SPF 40
Supergoop Healthy Glow Sunless Healthy Tan SPF 40
This is a spray application product that actually has an SPF in it. You can hit the beach, protect your skin and get a fake tan all at once! Plus, it's scent free. Made in USA. $38.00.
Alba Botanica Sunless Tanner
Alba Botanica Sunless Tanner
It's a nice budget friendly cream self tanner that moisturizes the skin with shea butter, sweet almond oil and safflower oil. You can find this product in many drug and superstores. $9.00

Coola Sunless Tan Dry Oil Mist

Coola Organic Sunless Tan Dry Oil Mist
Here is a lovely certified organic spray on self tanner. It's a lightweight, fast absorbing mist with a natural pina colada scent. Made in USA. $46.00

Tarte Brilliance Plus+ self Tanner with Mitt
Tarte Brazilliance Plus + Self Tanner with Mitt
Get a beautiful sunless tan while conditioning your skin with vitamins C, E and A, and essential fatty acids. This gel product also contains anti aging Alpha Hydroxy Acids and it tinted for an easy, streak free application with the mitt. $40.00

Remember, this is a fake tan. It offers you no protection from the sun. Be sure to wear sunscreen over your fake tan when you are out in the sun.

Keep your skin beautifully tan and free from sun damage by getting a fake tan!

        Have a Beautiful Day! 
Licensed Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Makeup Artist

PS: Thanks for using my amazon💋
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. That keeps my blog running and supports the care of animals in need!😸

 Wedding, special occasion or everyday makeup and skin care services available in the Philadelphia, Pa. area. Visit my makeup page for more information!


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