As an editor-in-chief and highly curious person who is obsessed with sussing out the latest in all the topics we talk about here on the site, I’d consider myself a person who knows a little about a lot of things. I’m definitely not an expert in most of them, but I sure do love to ask the experts. There are a few topics, however, where I would claim absolute expertise, whether it’s from doing a ton of research, being my own guinea pig, and usually a combination of both. For one? Sunless tanners.
Yes you guys, after 20 years of trying just about every product on the market, especially the ones leveraging the latest sunless tanning technology (yes that exists, LOL), I’m an expert in the field.
And thanks to my love for a year-round golden glow (and my aversion to sun damage) I’ve mastered the art of application, too.
“How do you always look so tan?” is one of the most-asked questions that y’all send in on Instagram, so be sure and share this one with your glow-addicted friends. Since my go-to products are always changing as new ones are released each summer, scroll on for the most updated version of the sunless tanning products I’m using on the regular this year.
featured image: hannah zahner
This is my maintenance product that I use every time I shower to keep a subtle-yet-consistent base color on my body. This lotion’s unique formula allows you to put it on your body while it’s still wet, and then you towel dry normally. It goes on super fast and since the color builds gradually over time, you don’t have to worry about streaks or even applying it very evenly. Seriously, you can do it in your sleep.
The color is very subtle though, so if you’re looking for an actual tan, you’re probably going to have to use something a little stronger (scroll on.) I actually use this product all throughout the winter when I want to have a little color without looking absurdly tan.
I’ve always loved Loreal’s Sublime Bronze Self Tanning Serum, but when their new water mousse launched this summer, I became an instant convert. This is what I use on my body when I want a darker tan. The formula is the consistency of water (read, incredibly lightweight) so there’s no need for aggressive rubbing to evenly distribute it across your skin — it just kind of glides right on. The color is natural and streak-free, and bonus points for the fact that it’s on the affordable side.
I apply it after I shower and moisturize (with the in shower lotion above) from neck to toes. Then I take regular (non tanning) body lotion and go over the parts of my body where skin is driest — my knees, ankles, and feet. I wash my hands well with soap, then apply an extra layer of body lotion to smooth everything out. By the time I finish this process, the mousse is pretty much dry and I can get dressed as usual!
This genius product is also a surprise bargain — I’ve had the same bottle for 6 months and it has no sign of running out. Here’s how it works: when I use my nighttime moisturizer (I’m currently using this one), I dispense a small amount into the palm of my hand, then add 3 drops of CleanTan’s Self Tan Concentrate Drops and mix well with the moisturizer. It turns any face oil or moisturizer into a self tanner, while retaining the nurturing properties of your skincare. Which means no more self-tanner induced breakouts.
I spread the mixture all over my face, being sure to blend into my hairline and down over my chin and onto the top part of my neck. It’s a gradual tan that develops over time, and the slightly tinted drops give you an instant glow, which is kinda fun, too. I’ve never had so much as a single streak with this product.
This is my final step when I’m heading out for a day of sun, and y’all – I am obsessed with this product. You spray it over your body just like you would any spray sunscreen, but it dispenses the most gorgeous tan color onto your skin that immediately blurs imperfections and makes your skin look like it has an Insta filter over it. And it’s waterproof.
It’s important to know that this does spray an actual tan colored mist, so you’ll want to put it on naked (I usually get in the shower so it doesn’t mist the walls of my bathroom), and then let it dry for a couple minutes before getting dressed so the color doesn’t transfer onto your clothes. I’m telling you, this one is a game-changer.
I’d love to hear which self tanning products y’all swear by — leave a comment so I can give it a try!