Self Tanner Guide


I never like to take my beauty routine too seriously. I’ll always try a different shampoo or eyeliner trick if someone has shared it with me. If it looks bad for a day, so be it! But there are a few things I’m a bit aggressive about.

1. Resting

Now partially, I know a lot of this stems from having an autoimmune disorder. But I have to rest religiously. I don’t sleep a lot [I’m working on it!] but I’m truly believe that not going 90 MPH on your weekend after you’ve had a stressful week is important. By all means, have fun and live your life, but also remember to treat your body kindly! For some that might mean a Sunday afternoon nap and for others it may mean an early bedtime on Saturday evening. For example, I had the best girls’ weekend this past weekend and I’m convinced my skin is so dry from it! Loads of Rosé and lack of rest don’t equal glowing skin.

2. Washing Makeup Off

It doesn’t matter how late we get in from an event or how late I stay up working, I have to wash my makeup off with my Tula cleanser. If you go out a lot and come home late, invest in micellar water. It’s not “great” but it’s the next best thing to having the energy to wash your face. Just drench a cotton pad, rub on your face and you can get to your beauty sleep. Skin heals while you rest, so if it “heals” with caked on concealer and contour your pores get congested and fine lines settle.

3. Keeping Face Out of Sun

I won’t fool you by saying I’m outdoorsy. I mean I love a good patio but you don’t find me camping every weekend. 😉 However, being a Texas girl I can definitely take the heat and love the sunshine. I love to work out outside, eat outside and enjoy the sun. So keeping my skin free of damage is really important and I’m a bit ridiculous about keeping the sun out of my face. You will not catch me laying out like the girl next to me. I’ve got on loads of sunscreen and probably my husband’s beach towel on my face. It looks ABSURD. But I know I’ll be happy I did it at 75!

So combine that little habit with my dad’s Swedish skin and I don’t have what one would call a “year-round tan.” To combat that I’m always reaching for a faux tanner if we have a special event or I just want to feel like I have some color.

I know that self tanner can be a bit nerve wracking for some, but please don’t worry! Below I’ll share my favorites that provide me the most natural color and are pretty fool proof. Be sure to follow the tricks I also share to make sure your tan stays streak free. Lastly, if you’re suffering from a bad faux experience, you can always lighten it up!

1. Scrub in the shower with a sugar scrub.

2. Make a paste of baking soda and lemon juice. Put it on streaks and scrub with a loofa.


DSC_2487_2 DSC_2489

If you have time, this is my favorite way to tan at home!

Every Day: 

If you want to control the amount of color you get and you don’t want to the time a real self tanner takes, I love this one by First Aid Beauty! It’s so easy and Paul doesn’t notice the scent at all which I think is so important! I get so embarrassed if he says, “Did you tan today?” haha. That’s important with a daily self tanner because you won’t rinse off in the morning! While this is a lot easier and you don’t have to worry about streaks as much as a traditional self tanner, be sure to let it dry! I say leave a robe on while you blow dry your hair and then put on pajamas. After about three uses you’ll look like you just left the beach.


Facial self tanners can be a pill. Here you aren’t worry about streaks as much, but it’s SO easy to break out from them! The St. Tropez Bronzing Face Lotion doesn’t cause me to break out. Be sure to blend into your hair line. I like to keep one makeup brush for applying this lotion on my face. The Sigma F80 Flat Kubuki Brush is m go-to brush for application.

Before An Event:

One of my least favorite aspects about self tanner is that you spend what feels like 2 hours in your bathroom awkwardly trying to reach your back to blend and then it washes off in two days! This Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse is so much better! It doesn’t have an overpowering scent. Most people think it doesn’t even have a scent, but because I always test self tanners I can smell the faint ingredients. This lasts for two weeks even through shaving legs, etc.! This is a true self tanner, so be sure to rinse off in the shower in the morning, but don’t use your loofa! Just use your hands with your body wash.



I get asked a lot about sun protection and I’ll definitely share the sunscreens I use soon! However, this Chantecaille sunscreen is amazing because it also acts as a skin perfect and primer! You can use it under your makeup as a primer or without makeup while it smooths out pores and imperfections! You can purchase it here. It is pricier, but you don’t have to use a foundation primer as well so it acts as two products in one!


Elbows, knees and ankles are easy spots for attracting streaks and build up. Always apply your self tanner with a plush application mitt. You can skip this step if you’re just doing an every day lotion. But the most important step is right before application. I always talk about the Aveda Beautifying Composition Oil and I use it before tanning too! Blend a few drops on ankles, hands, wrists, elbow and knees. Once it dries after a minute you can apply your tanner.


Recently L’Oreal sent me a few of their tan products to test, and their self-tanning towelettes truly stuck out to me. It’s so easy to use! The color isn’t over the top, but it activates quickly, so you can have a tan in 4 hours. If you travel a lot or don’t want to tan before you take a road trip to the beach, this is my pick! I was so impressed at how I had absolutely no streaks the first time I tried it!

I hope this review helps you the next time you want a faux glow! Have you tried any of these?!


Leave a Note

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Elizabeth wrote:

    One thing I always struggle with is how my self tanned skin comes off on my white bath towels ? How do you deal with that?! I bleach them and it seems to come out just fine…but the clean freak in me has a lot of stress about knowingly staining my white towels! ?

    Published 05 May 16Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      It never really comes off on mine! 🙁 My struggle is mascara stains! haha. I just bleach a LOT and it works! bahaha!

      Published 05 May 16Reply
  2. Megan Yaroch wrote:

    I use Rodan and Fields on my face so would it be odd to not use a self tanner on the face then? I am just afraid mixing that on that expensive R+F treatment would affect its performance.

    Published 05 May 16Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Megan!

      A facial self tanner shouldn’t affect your skincare! I just do the facial self tanner once a week and moisturize in the morning and my skincare still works. 🙂



      Published 05 May 16Reply
  3. Kacie wrote:

    Great post! I’m definitely going to try the St. Tropez face product – I use their gradual tanning lotion and love it so I know it’ll be a goodie! 🙂

    xoxo, Kacie

    Published 05 May 16Reply
  4. Amy Beth wrote:

    I’m constantly on the hunt for new self tanner that doesn’t stink or get all over everything! I currently use St. Tropez but it definitely gets on my white towels and I’m horrified! Absolutely trying the mousse next! Thank you!


    Published 05 May 16Reply
    • Jenna wrote:

      The mousse is 10x better!!!

      Published 05 May 16Reply
  5. Are you not supposed to exfoliate or use a loufa the whole 2-3 weeks then? I want a tan but I want smooth skin more lol!

    Published 05 May 16Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Rachel!

      You do! Haha. I use a loofa daily, just not the first day. The tan just needs about 24 hours to fully develop. . 🙂



      Published 05 May 16Reply
  6. Jenna wrote:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!!! So glad you posted a self tanner guide!

    Like you, my dad is 100% Swedish so i am not blessed with a beautiful glow year round either but i am absolutely envious of my sister who somehow skipped the Swede gene and can tan instantly within minutes! (Not fair, at all). Hence my search for the perfect tan starting at 16 years old. I started with drug store brands, but now i wont use anything besides the St. Tropez mousse + mitt. I did run out and the store where i get it stopped carrying it (so sad) so i did pick up the VIta Liberata and it is BEAUTIFUL!

    My hands/feet seem to be the worst though, i do put lotion on the dryer areas (elbows, kneecaps, around ankles) but somehow it is always much darker than the rest! I am going to try the lemon juice & baking soda and hope this helps my knuckle area….i get so embarrassed when i go to pay for something and my hands are all discolored! Usually if the cashier is a girl she gives me an approving look as if to say “dont worry girl, i know the struggles”.

    Your tan looks so flawless in all of the photos! WHAT IS YOUR SECRET FOR YOUR HANDS?! HELP SOS!!!!

    Published 05 May 16Reply
    • Laura wrote:

      I have a great trick for putting self tanner on my hands! After my full body application. I wash and dry my hands. Then I apply self tanner to a cotton ball and swipe the back of my hands. I don’t usually put it on my fingers because you can get weird crease lines at the knuckles. Sometimes I use cotton balls to apply to the tops of my feet as well. Hope this helps! Great post Katey! I love your blog!

      Published 09 May 16Reply
  7. I seriously need to read this post carefully because I am tooooo white. Need a tan!!! Love this! XO


    Published 05 May 16Reply
  8. Hannah wrote:

    Great tips! Have you tried the Loving Tan Mouse? I really love that one as well!


    Published 05 May 16Reply
    • Nina wrote:

      That is my favorite self tanner! SO much better than St. Tropez in my opinion!

      Published 05 May 16Reply
  9. I am SO ghostly looking right now and am in desperate need of a self tan!

    Published 05 May 16Reply
  10. Torey Beerman wrote:

    I just self tanned and use the St. Tropez for an event this weekend! I love that they have face tanner and really need to try it out. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    Published 05 May 16Reply
  11. Gretchen wrote:

    Love this Katey! Finding the perfect self-tanner can be the biggest pain, but I am SO looking forward to trying out some of your recommendations!

    Published 05 May 16Reply
  12. Camille wrote:

    I’m going to try the L’Oreal towlettes as I’m all about easy. Glad you shared these tips and products.

    Published 05 May 16Reply
  13. Britt wrote:

    I love all your tips! I wanted to share a tip that I use as my lazy girl beauty routine. I completely agree with ALWAYS washing your face before bed. I too use the micellar water trick if I am tired. However, my SUPER lazy hack when I am just to exhausted to even do that is I ALWAYS keep a package of facial cleansing towelettes and thermal spring water spray (my favorite is by Avene) in my nightstand. That way, after I snuggle up in my bed I pull out a towelette and wipe all the makeup off and then spray the Avene on my face to soothe, hydrate and calm my tired face. In the morning my face literally feels just as amazing as if I had the energy to complete my nightly routine. I have very sensitive skin, and this trick works like a charm 🙂

    Published 06 May 16Reply
  14. Morgan wrote:

    What color do you get in the self tanner? Thanks!

    Published 08 May 16Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Medium! xo

      Published 08 May 16Reply
  15. Ellen wrote:

    I tried the Loreal towelettes and absolutely loved them. I’m not someone who likes to keep up with a gradual tanner every day, so I liked that I could apply this, and I’d have a glow for a week.

    Ellen | A Pop of Pink

    Published 11 May 16Reply
  16. Caroline wrote:

    Hey, Katey! Could you tell me what you use to exfoliate and moisturize before you self tan? Any tips would be much appreciated ????

    Published 15 Mar 17Reply