That Golden Glow

So if you’re like me….you love to have a little color in the warmer months. For me, I cannot get that beautiful tan glow on my own for two reasons: one, because I have suffered from LOTS of skin cancer in my life and it’s just not safe to sit out in the sun or go to tanning beds and two, because I am very fair complected anyway and I could sit in the sun all day and just have that bright red, burnt skin color instead of a beautiful rich tan.

I’ve used self-tanner for years and I think I’ve become a bit of a pro at it! Today, I want to share some of my tricks and tips with you so that if you’re like me you can get the color without the danger.

  1. Exfoliate – but you don’t have to go into great  depths to do this. Just buy one of those exfoliator ball things like you can find at Bath & Body Works. Make sure it’s a soft one. You don’t want a stiff hard one that scratches your skin when you use it. You can use shower gel (I use Bath & Body Works gel because I can get one that smells wonderful) and just lather onto the ball and use light circular motions all over your body.
  2. When you get out of the shower dry completely before applying the tanner
  3. Apply the tanner but use disposable gloves or a mitt. This does two things, it helps distribute the tanner evenly and it keeps it from getting on your hands.
  4. When you apply the tanner use upward or downward strokes not circular (I just learned this).
  5. Avoid the ankles and tops of feet at first until you do your legs and then go down to your ankles and feet once you don’t have a lot of tanner left on the mitt or glove. This keeps it from collecting around your ankles and tops of feet causing them to get way darker than the rest of your leg. If you have a problem with elbows, ankles and knees getting way darker than everything else you can apply moisturizer (lightly) on rose areas prior to applying the tanner.
  6. Your face…they make self-tanners for your fave but quite frankly, I don’t know if those are any different than what you put on your body. I personally don’t use a different tanner for my face. I just use less of it. I go lightly on my face and I make sure I bring it down across my jawline and my neck. I also use a light moisturizer after I apply the tanner to my face.
  7. Brands – For years I have used L’oreal brand self-tanner:


And I have LOVED this one and still do! It has this sparkley sheen to it and just adds something to the color. It goes on really easy and it looks great! I get so many compliments on my tan when I use this. One call-out is that the sparkles tend to rub off on things like car seats. My husband makes me sit on a towel in the car! I don’t mind though because the tanner is kind of sticky when it gets warm if you just applied it in the past few hours prior. It seems like if it’s been overnight it’s not as bad. I will also tell you that when you get out in the sun light for some reason the tan looks very see-through or thin on the tops of your feet almost making them look dirty (I’ll tell you a story about that later)! If you put too much tanner on the tops of your feel that isn’t a good look either though! You’ll just have to experiment with what works for you.

8. When you apply the tanner to the tops of your hands, here is what I do…I place a very small dab on the top of one hand then rub the tops of my hands together. It works very well for me. The other thing you can do is use a makeup sponge or cotton ball to apply to your hands but I like the way I do it and it works great.

9. Reapply as you feel you need it. I usually apply every day or every other. Just know that if you shave your legs in the shower and you then apply the tanner after it can cause blotchyness or speckles. It’s better if you can shave at night and then apply the tanner in the morning because shaving opens up the pores which causes the speckles. I’ll admit though, I do shave and apply the tanner in the morning.

Other Brands:

Recently, I discovered Austrailian Gold self-tanner. Now to be honest, I just used this for the first time yesterday but I like it so far. The L’Oreal tends to be very drying on your skin or at least it does mine but if you use moisturizer prior to applying the tanner then you don’t get as much color. Occasionally, I will apply moisturizer later on in the day but that’s not always possible if I am at work or whatever.

I have my license for nails which allows me to buys stuff at the professional beauty supply. That’s where I got this new tanner from Austrailian Gold. The manager there told me it has good reviews and she herself used and liked it. I just thought I would give it a try. For you, (unless you have a license) it would be just about double in price. With that said, I’d rather pay a bit more and get a real natural looking tan than but a cheaper product and get something that looks fake!

I’ve also tried Tarte’s self-tanner. It works fine but it’s expensive. I don’t think it works any better than L’Oreal. I’ve also used Tan Towels brand. Those are also nice but again, expensive. L’Oreal makes towels as well but I haven’t tried those. I imagine they work just like the Tan Towels brand.

So, here is the story I promised earlier in the post: one day my husband, mother-in-law and I were out and about in our town. We noticed a little old lady who was stuck at the intersection because her car had conked out. We got her out of the car and over to a parking lot while my husband tried to get her car out of the intersection. While my mother-in-law and I were waiting with the little old lady for her daughter to come get her she looked down at my feet and said “Oh! Your feet are so dirty!” OMG! I was SO embarrassed because they were NOT dirty, it was the tanning lotion I had applied earlier in the day! I explained to her what it was but I still have nightmares about that! I am forever trying to perfect the feet application with not much luck!!!! Let me know if you have a remedy for this! Again, if you put it on too thick it looks darker than everything else and if you put it in too light it looks like your feet are “dirty”! UGH!

One last comment about self tanners….they do rub off on your clothing especially if you sweat. Most of the time, the tanner will wash out of your clothes but it can be a bit embarrassing if you sweat and it turns your shorts brown! I will tell you that they seem to have perfected that a little better now a days then they did before. I was at a concert last night and it was incredibly hot. We were sitting in plastic chairs which make you sweat and when you have shorts on there is nothing to keep your legs from sweating in the chair. I had white shorts on and all I kept thinking was “when I stand up will the back of my white shorts be brown from the tanner?” As it turned out, they weren’t and everything was fine but given that I used this new tanner for the first time I wasn’t sure how that was all going to pan out!

All in all, self tanners are much safer than being out in the sun or using a tanning bed and I think people are using them more and more and are in the same boat as you with all the issues you face with self-tanners! So, go forth and be bronzed!!!




  1. I’ve never used a self tanner but may try after your advice. I’ve used the tanning lotions and probably spend too much time in the sun anyway. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great tips…coming from someone that tried self tanner once and ended up with orange toes and feet 😊
    I will definately try again with these tips!

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