A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Tanner

With all the sun prevention I’m constantly promoting here on the blog (like this post and this post), I realized I ought to offer a successful, healthy alternative to getting that summer tan for those who seek the Giselle Bundchen-bronze in summer months. So I began vetting the product options. I’ll confess – I am a total novice at self-tanning products. In fact, I’d say I intentionally avoided the genre for my adult life because it seemed like a lot of unnecessary hassle to try to dye oneself (dying your shower stall along with your skin, staining clothes, smelling like chemicals). That, and I’ve always been perfectly content with my fair skin. But I get the appeal. If you own a white mini bikini you want to pair it with a bronzed bod.  There’s a novelty factor, like changing one’s hair color, to sporting a tan. The warm tones of the sun on your skin make you feel connected to summertime and the outdoors.

In conducting my research, my goal was  to achieve a self-tan that looks the equivalent of a few hours in the sun with SPF 50. In other words, in order for it to look realistic, it has to look like the kind of color I would get naturally (we all know how easy it is to spot someone who overdid it at the spray-tan salon). So I set out and began testing sprays, wipes, lotions and foams to find a product and method that look natural; no streaks, no funky orange cast, no overcooked look. Oh and no overwhelming odor. There are pretty much three categories of tanners: instant color (which also wash off instantly), longer term color (you apply it once and it hangs around for a few days) and gradual tanners (you apply daily or every other day to build the color). The gradual tanners seem to have the most pay off for the least amount of work, so that’s the category I explored.

What worked best for me?  Mousse / foam products. I was amazed at how easy they are to use. You simply use a spongey mitt to apply the mousse in large circular sweeps over your whole body and face. The mitt eliminates stained palms and the mousse texture creates a very even tan with zero streaks or splotches. I like St. Tropez’s product line because it’s made of DHA, a simple carbohydrate derived from sugar cane, and because it creates a brown base, not orange. The scent is faint. For me, the basic bronzing mousse works great (paired with their applicator mitt to apply). The color is subtle and healthy-looking for my skin tone. But they offer a whole range of products for different depths of color based on your skin tone and preferences.

Delphine friends and followers have also been sharing their self-tanner tips with me: popular products are Kate Somerville Tan Towels, James Read Bronzing Mousse and James Read Sleep Mask Tan, and Clarins Golden Glow Booster and Clarins Liquid Bronze Tanning for Face and Decolletage. A good jumping off point if you want to do your own sampling.


Here are my simple steps to attaining a summery glow (without prematurely aging your skin in the sun!):




















1 Comment

  • Reply July 21, 2014

    Laurie Leopold

    How did I ever self tan without those mitts? Ugh…orange hands! You are right on the money with the mousse formula…so much easier. :)

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