One of the questions I get asked often is how I maintain such a perfect tan all the time. Today is the day I’m going to spill my secret! Before we get deep into it though, I must admit that it’s not difficult to get a real tan living in Palm Springs. Just being out in the pool for 30 minutes every now and then or walking the dog regularly (with SPF of course) will get me a good amount of color. But let’s face it, excessive sun exposure is not good for the skin and can cause serious complications in the long run. As much as I love being extra sun-kissed & looking like I just came back from an extended vacation all the time, no tan is worth getting skin cancer or early aging. With that said, I enjoy using sunless tanners to maintain a beautiful glow year round. Sunless tanners come in especially handy in the winter when it’s too cold to be outdoors.
Over the past few years, I have tried my fair share of sunless tanners in hopes of finding one that delivers perfect results. Recently, I’ve narrowed down to my top 3 that I stick with. Based on my experience and hearing about other people’s experiences with self tanners, I’ve learned that some tanners work better on certain skin tones, and not so well on others. For example, I’ve heard of Jergens gradual tanning moisturizer working well for a lot of people. When I tried it though, I really wanted to love it but… instead, I noticed that it gave me more of an orange tan, rather than that desirable brown tan. In the end, I decided that the Jergens tanning moisturizer is not the best for olive-toned skin. I also experimented with the more expensive sunless tanners that many rave about — such as the mousses by St. Tropez and Vita Liberata. These react pretty well with my skin tone, but are a bit pricier. I’ve found a few products that are more affordable and deliver similar results, if not better!
NEUTROGENA MICRO-MIST AIRBRUSH SUNLESS SPRAY
Okay. Let me begin by saying that I don’t know why this product only has an average rating of 3 stars. To be honest, the reviews I saw prior to purchasing this product left me skeptical. But, it’s only $10 at Target so I decided to give it a try. The verdict? It is TOTALLY an under-rated product! I LOVE that it does not leave me orange at all, and is so easy to use. The fact that it doesn’t streak and dries almost instantly is beyond amazing to me.
I’m by no means a professional spray tanner, so it really helps that this product is pretty “fool-proof” for newbies like me. The best part is, I don’t need to bug my boyfriend to get my back! I always get the deepest shade #3 because I prefer a dark tan, and the color develops very naturally. It also builds well, so you can easily do several rounds of spraying to achieve a darker tone. Just don’t overdo it; I find two rounds to be the sweet spot for me.
This spray works best at night after a thorough exfoliation and cleanse in the shower. Exfoliation is key to any self tanning! The tanner is safe to use both on the face and on the body, but for the face I spray the product into my fingers and rub it in. This way, I’m able to make sure none of it gets into my eyes. Since the spray comes out clear, it was nerve-wracking the first time. You won’t see the color developing until several hours in. So, I was deathly afraid of streaking or waking up looking like an oompa loompa. Alas, my fears remained fears and the reality is surprisingly perfectly bronzed skin!
It leaves no mess, but I highly recommend that you apply this somewhere well-ventilated as it does have a somewhat unpleasant chemical smell at first. It doesn’t linger on the skin though, so you’ll be fine after a few minutes. I use this pretty regularly (probably twice a week) and one can lasts me around a month!
BALI BODY BRONZING LOTION & BB CREAM
If you haven’t seen Bali Body all over Instagram yet, you must be living under a rock. Just kidding, but not really. They do a really good job marketing and immediately piqued my interest after I saw so many photos of perfectly bronzed babes as a result of using their products. Bali Body offers a wide range of tanning products, from bronzing lotions and tanning oils, to BB creams and more. The two I am especially a fan of is their bronzing lotion and BB cream. In my opinion, they go together hand-in-hand!
Unlike the Neutrogena spray tan, these products completely wash off with water. If you only want a temporary tan, you’ll love these. I’m honestly surprised that Bali Body hasn’t come up with a sunless tanner that sticks around and gradually fades. With that said, I like to use Bali Body to enhance a base tan that already exists. The bronzing lotion is a gorgeous brown color that blends with ease and builds nicely layer after layer to create a rich tan.
The BB cream comes in several shades, and I use “tan.” As far as coverage goes, you won’t get anything quite like what a foundation will give you if you have zits or major discoloration. However, on a good skin day, it’s a great way to go light on the makeup! The BB cream also has SPF and a slight shimmer which delivers a healthy, dewy glow. No highlighter needed 😉
In addition to tanning, these Bali Body goodies keep my skin well-hydrated. Since I use these in conjunction with other products (i.e. the Neutrogena tanner, and other face makeup), they last quite a while. I probably get a new bottle of bronzing lotion and tube of BB cream every 6 months. The price point is reasonable – $26 for the bronzing lotion and $30 for the BB cream. Even though it is an Australian-based brand, their free shipping is extremely quick, from a USA warehouse. Bali Body offers a plethora of quality products, but I am really hoping that they will eventually extend their line to include a gradual tanner that is buildable.
TAN ME BOX SELF TANNER GEL
Before trying the Neutrogena sunless spray, I found Tan Me Box’s self tanner gel to be incredible because it doesn’t leave my Asian skin orange. But, the application of this gel is a bit tricky at first. Not going to lie — I had many trials and errors with streaking. Tan Me Box recommends that you use one of their brushes to apply the gel. Whenever I do though, my body is streak galore!
After a few times, I gave up trying to make the brush work. Instead, using a tanning mitt is much more effective and efficient. Application aside, I absolutely love the brown color that this tanning gel gives — instantly. Unlike Neutrogena’s sunless spray, I don’t have to wait several hours for the tan to develop. And unlike Bali Body’s bronzing lotion, this one doesn’t wash off instantly in the shower and gradually fades without looking gross after a few days.
Overall, I use the Neutrogena sunless spray the most, but on days I really want to accentuate a tan in certain spots, this tanner gel is perfect for a quick fix or touch up. A little bit goes a long way and this $25 bottle will last me anywhere from 4-6 months.
There you have it — the secret behind my deep tan & 3 sunless tanners I feel are worth the hype! With dress, shorts, and romper season just around the corner, now would be a good time to experiment with different tanners and find the one(s) that will deliver your perfect holiday glow.
What are some of your favorite self tanning products and brands?