Beauty & Beyond: A Sun-Kissed Glow With Self-Tanners


There’s nothing healthy about a tan but nothing sexy about pasty pale. Conundrum. Since savvy beauties shun the sun (a far cry from Coco Chanel’s first intentional tan in the ’30s), we turn to sun-kissed color from a bottle.


With May as Skin Cancer Awareness Month and our high wedge sandals shimmying head-on into shorter skirt season, here are a few tips for applying self-tanners.

  1. Exfoliate beforehand. Give yourself a nice dry brush before your shower, instead of using a salt or sugar scrub that can leave behind oil on your skin.
  2. Use plastic gloves from at-home hair color kits.
  3. Don’t go too dark. Just don’t. Choose a shade that might match your natural sunworshipping self.
  4. If you’re nervous you grabbed a too dark formula, get a lighter glow by mixing 1/2 lotion (oil-free or it’ll be Streak City) and 1/2 self-tanner.
  5. Apply body lotion around your hairline and eyebrows prior to self-tanning application so you don’t discolor your hair.
  6. After applying the cream to your body, use a tube sock put over your hand a la sock puppet and rub in circular motions to ensure no areas have too much tanner.
  7. Use makeup sponges to apply to face, tops of feet and tops of hands.
  8. When you’re done, put a quarter-sized dollop of hand cream on your hands and rub it in around the wrists to blend any tan lines. Do the same with your feet.
  9. Mess up? Panic not. Lemon juice mixed with sugar, rubbed in small circles at the offending streaky spot should do the trick.

Here are a few of my faves:

Supergoop! Gradual Self-Tanning Sunscreen Mousse – Genius. A self-tanner with SPF. Now you can literally be tanning while you’re not tanning. This paraben- and oxybenzone-free formula wit SPF 20 and brings on gradual color. This means you can use it as your regular moisturizer and then expect the olive color to build. It’s not really a true mousse but more of a whipped cream (now I’m hungry for dessert). It also moisturizers with antioxidants and imparts a nice silky sheen to your skin. A huge bonus – it doesn’t smell (it has a light green tea/cucumber scent) and it doesn’t rub off on clothing.

Jergens Natural Glow – A no-brainer for eliminating a self-tanner step to your routine, this every day lotion delivers a gradual tan by applying it as you would a regular moisturizer. You’ll slowly build a deeper shade over three days as if you were lounging seaside during a beach vacation. The caveat? It still has that self-tanner smell. Once they improve that, this will be unstoppable as one of the best.

Brownberry New York Clear Sunless Tanning Spray - This brand new clear spray is enriched with Vitamin D3. Since it comes from good old fashioned sunshine, this vital nutrient is lacking with all the SPF we slather on. This clear spray is actually giving your skin a little TLC with all that natural looking color. And the fresh green tea scent doesn’t hurt either.

Dr. Hauschka Translucent Bronze Concentrate– Although self-tanner is available for your face, I like to consider this more of an opportunity to add a little temporary color based on your mood. Besides mess-ups are harder to hide on your face. Add this thin lotion to your oil-free facial moisturizer and it imparts the perfect bronze color. For that just sun-kissed look, up the amount on just your nose and cheeks.

Alba Botanic Natural Very Emollient Sunless Tanner – It promises “golden tanning without the sun” and that is what it delivers. The formula is all natural and minus all those things you don’t want in your lotions (think parabens, phthalates, artificial colors). It’s a very thick cream so it’s easy to apply and smells divine with a beachy coconut scent. The color develops in three hours.

Guerlain Terracotta Sunless Tinted Self-Tanning Gel – This recently released limited edition has a tinted bronzer, so seeing where you have spread this decadent gel is a breeze. Using a subtle concentration of DHA and organic argan oil, it’s a quick hit—your safe tan is visible after only an hour. Tip: You cannot wash your hands fast enough with this one since the color seems grab onto you the second you meet.

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