My Self-Tanning Essentials

I've been self-tanning for 15+ years, and with spring and summer on the horizon, I figured I'd round up my current self-tanning essentials. I've tried so many products over the years, including just about every cult favorite; and while my favorite products are always evolving, I've landed on the best self-tanners that work for my skin and don't have that dreadful smell.

If you love a good tan without damaging your skin, then here are my tried and true, ride-or-die self-tanning essentials that I swear by...

For more self-tanning tips and tricks, here's a full breakdown of my self-tanning routine.

First Aid Beauty Ingrown Hair Pads, Necessaire Body Lotion, Athena Club Razor, Exfoliating Glove, Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Drops, Lux Unfiltered Bronzing Face Drops, Summer Fridays Dream Oasis Serum, Tarte Buff & Bronze Body Brush, Lux Unfiltered Tanning Mousse, Tan Again Ultra Dark Tanning Mousse, Eleffect Tanning Mousse, Summer Fridays Body Oil, RMS Beauty Glow Powder, Charlotte Tilbury Body Shimmer Lotion, Lux Unfiltered Blurring Body Glow

01. Prep

Prepping my skin is super important in my self-tanning routine. Not only does it allow for an easier, more seamless application, but it actually makes my tan last longer as well. To start my routine, I shower, exfoliate and shave 6-12 hours prior to tanning. Why? So the pores on my legs have a chance to fully close up! If you self-tan immediately after shaving, your skin can react to the ingredients in your self tanner, creating a similar rash to razor burn. Additionally, your self tanner can "cling" to your open pores, causing that strawberry legs-look.

I love using this $8 exfoliating mitt to remove dead skin and any last remnants of my old tan. Then I'll shave and moisturize the areas around my elbows, ankles, wrists and hands. I also love using these First Aid Beauty Pads to prevent ingrown hairs after shaving, especially around my bikini line. This Necessaire body lotion is one of my faves because it's fragrance & oil-free and doesn't interfere with my self-tanner.



02. Face

For my face, I'll mix the Lux Unfiltered Face Tanning Drops with my Summer Fridays Dream Oasis Serum usually 1-2 times a week for a natural, subtle color. The more product you use, the darker your tan will develop (I usually use about 5 drops). These drops are great for beach days or times when you want a glow but don't want to wear makeup.

For an extra boost of bronze, I also love the Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Drops. These mix in perfectly with daily moisturizer or primer for a dewy bronze that gives me that lit from within glow.



03. Body

When it comes to self-tanners, I've tried my fair share! I've had a select few favorites over the years, and right now I'm loving the Tan Again Ultra Dark Tanning Mousse (Code DANIELLE) and Eleffect Tanning Mousse. They have all of the qualities you look for: natural ingredients, natural color, mild or pleasant smell, smooth application, lasting color and an even fade. The best self-tanners for fair skin also tend to contain either brown or green undertones, so always be on the lookout for those! A new one in my arsenal is the Lux Unfiltered Tanning Mousse. I love the way it smells and it applies beautifully.

Pro tip - Use a dense brush to blend self-tanner seamlessly on tricker spots like feet or hands (also works great for face!).



03. Glow

If I have an event to attend mid-winter and haven't kept up on your self-tanning routine, these are the products I'll reach for. I also like to use these to enhance and/or help prolong my tan as it wears throughout the week.

If you're looking for an extra bronzy-glow or a little bit of a blurring skin filter, you have to try the Lux Unfiltered Blurring Body Glow. This is an instant color that washes off and won't transfer. Perfect compliment to any skin tone, too. I also love this Charlotte Tilbury Body Shimmer Lotion which gives a similar effect.

Glow oils like this Summer Fridays Body Oil are also a great option and my favorite especially for areas like shoulders and chest. If you prefer a powder, RMS Beauty Glow Powder is my go-to!