I can’t believe it’s already April and officially spring, which means our days are numbered until sandals, shorts, summer dresses and maxi skirts are back in the daily rotation. It also means it’s time to start regularly shaving our legs again and a little self tanner can’t hurt to ease the transition.
Today, I’m sharing my personal best self tanner for medium skin tones (AKA… self tanners that won’t pull orange) along with some of my favorite tips to ensure you don’t look streaky or get the tell-tale self-tanner palms.
It all starts with some basic prep work. If this is the first time you’re applying self tanner for the season, you should start with a great canvas. At night, shower and use an exfoliating scrub or (one of my personal favorites because it’s easy to get your back and suds up well with body wash) exfoliating towel to scrub-a-dub-dub your legs, arms (don’t forget your underarms, too) and especially feet and even hands (gently). Follow by shaving using your favorite shave gel or hair conditioner (anything hydrating… don’t just use your bar soap).
I’m not a huge fan of body lotion because I don’t love that heavy feeling on my body that is just inevitable when you apply any body lotion and/or self tanner, so I keep it minimal. When you get out of the shower, apply your favorite body lotion to your feet and ankles, elbows, hands and wrists. Let sit for a few. Those are the areas that tend to be drier and therefore, get patchy with self tanner. If you’re SUPER dry and don’t mind body lotion, feel free to give your entire body a full coat.
Here’s my #1 self tanning tip – you ABSOLUTELY NEED a tanning mitt.
Not only do tanning mitts prevent self-tanner palms, but it blends the product into the skin way easier and more natural… just like the way a foundation brush or sponge applies makeup to the face. Any self tanning mitt will do. You can find them pretty much everywhere self tanners are sold these days (Ulta, Sephora, CVS, etc). They’ll run you about $5-8 and they’re completely reusable. I’ve washed mine by hand in the sink with dish soap and even thrown them in the washing machine before with no problems. Let air dry. They last me about six months with weekly use.
My favorite self tanner that I’ve come back to for years due to its ease of accessibility, developed color and long-wear (lasts about a week) is the St Tropez Classic Bronzing Lotion OR St Tropez Bronzing Mousse. Both give me the exact same color and apply easily with the mitt. I find the bottle of the lotion tends to last me a little longer than the mousse, but the mousse isn’t as moisturizing. The lotion doesn’t have a color guard (means it isn’t brown-colored to help you see where you’re applying it), but the mousse does. You decide which is better for you.
I apply my self tan from the top of my body down, so I start with my arms (skipping hands), chest, neck, stomach, back and finish with legs, feet and hands. When you do your feet and hands, use whatever product is leftover on the mitt and rub lightly on the tops. This is key in getting a natural finish and no harsh lines around that area. I’ll give myself about five to ten minutes to absorb and dry, throw some PJs on and go to sleep. A quick body rinse in the morning gets rid of any mild self tanner scent and color guard (if you used the mousse) and displays your new tan.
My favorite part of using the mitts is that you don’t have to meticulously try to wash your hands after you self tan… which never ends well. That’s how you end up with the harsh streaks and lines on your hands/wrists. Hateee.
If I really want a deeper color…
I apply two coats back-to-back of the self tanner and/or do this routine two nights in a row. I have tried St Tropez’s DARK version, but I thought it had too strong of a self-tanner smell and the color guard on the mousse was almost olive-green (very obvious). This past month, though, St Tropez reformulated all of their self tan products and apparently added a lot of new technology to eradicate this issue, in addition to some other cool features (even fade technology, quick-drying, mood boosting scent). I’ll give it a shot again soon and keep you posted.
My self tan lasts about a week with this technique. After my first application of the season, I don’t need to do the entire exfoliate/shave/moisturize each week; instead I’ll do it once a month (obviously I still have to shave during the week in between).
If this entire routine is too much for you…
I REALLY liked St Tropez’s gradual self tan in medium/deep. It’s made an appearance in my favorites and I loved using this formula throughout the fall/winter. It was super natural and didn’t require all the prep work because it was a body lotion hybrid. In about three nights, I had the same color using the gradual tan as I do with one night of the traditional formula. No streaks, even fade, hydrating without being greasy.
Other self tanners I’ve tried and liked for medium skin tone…
I’ve also enjoyed bareMinerals Faux Tan and Million Dollar Tan Extreme Cabana Tan, but Faux Tan didn’t last as long on me (great color though) and Million Dollar Tan is only available online (they do have HauteLook sales though, which is always a great deal).
Unfortunately, no self tanners from the drugstore have impressed me – they all have pulled orange and/or faded patchy. I think if you’re fair/light, you may be able to get away with a few brands (Jergens Natural Glow Firming was a nice formula in texture, but still too orange on me), but overall, I haven’t found a good one.
Some self tanners I have on my radar to try…
There’s a handful of newer brands and formulas I’ve read are agreeable with more medium/olive skin, so as I finish my current bottle, I’ll be checking these out and will keep you all posted via social media. I tend to post updates about these kinds of things on my Facebook page or Twitter.
- Vita Liberta Fabulous Tinted Self Tanning Mousse
- Loving Tan Ultra Dark Deluxe Tanning Mousse (ships from Australia only currently)
- James Read (various formulas)
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I hope this helps my fellow medium/olive skin tone readers find the best self tanner for medium skin tones and get excited for spring. Don’t forget to use SPF daily now that more skin will be exposed!
What are some of your favorite self tanners – any I need to try? Let me know in the comments and please share this post using the social share buttons below if you found this helpful. I greatly appreciate it!
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