THE BEST: Self Tanners

A few weeks ago I shared my favorite bronzers in my new series called THE BEST – and you asked me to round up my absolute favorite self tanners. Since I’m whiter than snow (hey, my dad’s Norwegian), and I want to keep my skin healthy and (let’s face it) cancer-free, I 100% rely on self tanners. As a teen I gave up on them when it appeared that no company could get the self tanning formula right. Until these babies came out. Shop them all in the links below.

Now, when it comes to self tanners, there are a few simple rules to live by.

Simple Rules for Self Tanning

  1. Mousse is better than lotion is better than sprays/mists
  2. The greener the product is, the more natural the end result (less orange)
  3. Always, always, use an oil & paraben-free body scrub or polish before self tanning–NEVER skip this step!
  4. Use a tanning mitt to apply mousse self-tanners – it will change your life (see link to my favorite below)
  5. Here is your new routine: Every Sunday night, shower & full body scrub, then apply self tanner, then bed. Wash off in the shower in the morning. Done for the week! Apply gradual self tanning moisturizer (like Jergens or your fave brand) every day until the next application.

 St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse | St. Tropez Tanning Essentials Applicator Mitt | St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse Dark | Xen Tan Absolute Luxe Ultra Dark Lotion | Xen Tan Scent Secure Daily Protection | Sienna X Extremely Natural Self Tan

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  1. 06.22.2012 / 11:42 am

    I am super fair skinned as well (Swedish/Polish/Irish/French Canadian) and I have been nervous to try a tanner in fear of turning orange. I am going to take a look around the store today based on your recommendations…thanks!

  2. Chris
    06.22.2012 / 1:24 pm

    One of the best things I figured out back in the day of lotion self tanners was that after showering and before applying the self tanner, put on a VERY thin layer of a scentless lotion on my hands/knees/elbows, then wait a half hour before applying the tanning lotion. That seemed to help keep those areas from looking darker than the rest of my body.
    Great article… I’ll be looking for a mitt the next time I’m near a Sephora!

  3. 06.22.2012 / 1:36 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! St Tropez is, in a word, amazeballs!

  4. 06.22.2012 / 3:01 pm

    THE BEST: Self Tanners: A few weeks ago I shared my favorite bronzers in my new series called THE BEST – and you…

  5. 06.22.2012 / 3:08 pm

    Thanks for these recommendations! I definitely want to try a mousse because I’m getting really tired of the waiting time for lotions to dry, and I am 100% getting that tanning mitt – I hate constantly trying to wash it off my hands!

  6. 06.22.2012 / 9:19 pm

    The St. Tropez tanner is my absolute fave! I got a deluxe sample of the gradual tan moisturizer from Sephora and am now addicted to it. Yay for safe tanning!

  7. Ashley
    06.23.2012 / 2:00 am

    I’m going to a wedding in San Diego next weekend and my pasty white self appreciates this post more than you can imagine! I was just wondering what your favorite body scrub is? I’m finding a lot of paraban-free scrubs but not some many that also leave out the oils. Thanks!!

  8. 06.23.2012 / 11:05 am

    I am excited to try these… and will definitely get the tanning Mitchell. I really like Lancome Flash Bronzer sunless tanning. It is a little pricey, but doesn’t have an icky smell and dries to a baby powderish finish. Great post!

  9. 06.23.2012 / 4:24 pm

    Great post!! I use self tanner on my legs in the summertime- ive been enjoying clinique’s self sun. Goes on nicely with a great scent.

  10. 06.23.2012 / 6:00 pm

    I’ve taken to spraying my body with home made carrot juice extract. Works wonders and actually turns out more natural than any self tanners I’ve ever used.
    The recipe’s on my blog.

    Trendy kisses & Hugs,

    Donatella “Ella” von Slutthen

    Governmental Unemployment Office Agent & Fashion Blogger in Finland

  11. 06.24.2012 / 8:58 am

    I just started using the St.Tropez mouse with the glove, and man does that glove make a huge difference!

  12. 06.26.2012 / 4:20 pm

    I’m obsessed with #1 – it’s my go-to! You should also try L’Oreal Sublime Bronze -it’s incredible, and such a bargain!

  13. 06.28.2012 / 6:54 pm

    I’m thinking about giving self-tanning another try, do you have a recommendation for a good oil & paraben free body scrub?

  14. 07.04.2012 / 4:05 pm

    So in agreement about the St Tropez products…and the mitt – this is a recent discovery for me. I’ve been using the St Trop. Everyday mousse for a while and recently tried the bronzing mousse with mitt for extra glow on the legs. Amazing products! x

  15. 07.15.2012 / 7:46 am

    Your rules and routine get straight to the point and are right on. Excellent for us to share, thank you.
    (Ashley, It Is pretty great to watch people come into San Diego pale; get sun, sand and spray tan; and then run around golden and smiling for the rest of their trip.
    Hope you had fun here in San Diego!)

  16. Carrie Holt
    01.16.2013 / 5:56 am

    You might also want to try Adonia Bronzing Glow and Clinique Self Sun.  They were both given really good reviews on

  17. Sasa
    05.07.2013 / 10:56 pm

    Anyone have a solution to the problem I have with self tanners? The problem is it will look great for 5-7 days but if I exfoliate even lightly to prepare for the next application I get big blotches where the tanner comes off more, esp inside elbow area. If I apply tanner over these areas it won’t fully match all the other areas so only solution is try to strip ALL tanner off so it will look even on the next application again. Does the daily tanner lotion help with this?

  18. Angela Bassett
    12.13.2014 / 4:22 pm

    Just found your blog! Another good self tanner I could recommend would be Unreal particularly their Personal Tanning Mist. It comes in Light, medium and Dark so would suit even the palest skin even in winter. They’re a UK brand but I think they sell everywhere now Defo use a tanning mitt for sure, gives much better results.

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