The Art and Science of Self Tanners

  I have been using some form of a self tanner for probably close to 3 decades. I have fair, freckled skin, that burns first before it tans. I prefer to have a bit of color, and since lying in the sun is a definite no-no, I rely on these miracle creams to achieve that summer glow, even if it is mid January!

Not all self tanners are created equally, and I am going to give you the low down on may favorites.

1. If you are in need of some color for a specific event, and you need it in a hurry, (for instance, your legs have not seen the sun in months and you are going to bare them in a shorter length dress), then you should do an airbrushed tan or the Mystic Spray tan. These tend to be pricey, but if you purchase them in a package, the price is significantly reduced.

Pros: a lot of color is deposited quickly. The tan emerges in about 4 hours and lasts about a week, if you maintain it with a special moisturizer.

Cons: There is a definite odor. It is not offensive, just easily identifiable. If you don’t blend it properly your skin will look blotchy especially around the toes, tops of feet and ankles.


2. Tan Cloths: My favorites are Kate Sommerville and The Tan Towel .

This is a quick way to achieve a light tan that is very natural looking.

Pro: Very easy to apply. The cloth contains the self tanner product and you simply wipe it all over your face and body.

Con: There is not a great deal of product on the towel, so you need to apply it first to your legs, arms and décolletage  and leave your midsection and back to the end.  If you want more color, you will need to apply it the next day. It does not have a distinctly offensive smell.

It does not last more than a couple of days.



3. Jergens: Three Days To Glow

The color is deposited evenly over the course of three days. The result is a deep, rich looking tan, but you should gauge the amount of color you want, and stop after you achieve it, which could be after day two.

Pros: It is inexpensive, and has no odor. In fact, it smells great! It gives you a natural overall tan over a period of 3 days You can stop after one or two days depending on how much color you desire.

You can easily correct a blotched ankle or foot by applying more cream to that area the next day.

Con: It lasts only about 5 days and you should use the recommended product to moisturize: Jergens Tan Extender (which also has a pleasant fragrance).

Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 1.17.57 PM.png

4. Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer

This product gives you a very light tan and can be used as a daily moisturizer. I love it because it has SPF 20 and a pleasing light fragrance.

5. James Read Overnight Tan

This product works as you sleep, it is full of nourishing ingredients for your face, and is considered a mask. You wake up with both moisturized skin and a hint of color.

6. Terracotta Spray

For an instant glow that washes away, I use this spray by Guerlain. It is a bronzing powder mist with sunscreen (SPF 10).

7. Divine Legs by Caudalie

For an instant but wash away color, I often use this product. It has a great fragrance and you can wash it off at the end of the day. It is also great for correcting any mistakes produced by your self-tanner. It gives your arms, legs and chest an instant glow. I use it all over my body even though it’s meant for your legs.

Some helpful tips:

As with any self-tanning product, you must, and I cannot stress this enough, you must exfoliate your skin. You should use an exfoliator (I use DermaDoctor KP Duty) that does not contain moisturizing product as it will hinder the effect of the self-tanning product.

Make sure to wash your hands after applying the product. This includes the insides of your wrists.

Tread lightly, no pun intended, on the tops of your feet. Since the skin there is thinner than on the rest of your body, it absorbs the color more easily. This can lead to blotchiness and uneven application, but sometimes there is no way around it—but unless someone is staring closely at your feet, you can hardly tell. And it’s a much better alternative to skin cancer if and when you want to fake a tan!

The perfect way to apply it to your back is with a little bit of help from your friends! But here are some products, which I have not yet tested, to help accomplish this!