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Sunless Tanning 101

Filed in: Beauty

To Streak or Not to Streak

Sunless tanning is a tricky business. It is super intimidating to most people, and for good reason. It can be a total disaster, leaving those who dare to try it looking like a streaky Oompa Loompa and smelling like…well, sunless tanner. Never fear my pale ones, just because vampires are all the rage right now, does not mean you have to look like one!

Choose the Right Sunless Tanner

The most important step is choosing the right sunless tanner. My recommendation is this St. Tropez lotion (once you are skilled in the art of sunless tanning, you can switch to the foam version or another one of my favorites,this Josie Maran Argan Liquid Gold Self-Tanning Oil.) Until then, tread lightly, as it dries at turbo speeds.) I like this particular  St. Tropez formula because it creates a very natural golden color, even if your natural complexion is a lovely glow-in-the-dark white (like myself). Although there is a faint sunless tanner smell, it isn’t so strong that the people in the next aisle of the grocery store will be peering around the corner to see where it’s coming from.

A Few More Supplies

The next necessity in your sunless adventure should be some disposable plastic gloves. This is how you will avoid the tell-tale orange palms you (deservedly) fear. Next, you will need some body lotion, any kind will do. Some type of exfoliant is also highly recommended, whether it’s a body scrub or some on-the-cheap exfoliating gloves like these.) You’ve got all of your supplies, now let’s get to it!


  • Take a shower, shave, and use your preferred exfoliant, paying special attention to knees and elbows as these are the areas most prone to streaks and patchy color deposits.
  • Allow skin to dry completely.
  • Apply body lotion to any areas that you would like to avoid large color deposits (knees, behind knees, elbows, ankles, wrists, and hands. Also include eyebrows and hairline if you are tanning the face.)
  • Put on your disposable gloves and you are ready to begin!
  • Apply sunless tanner in circular motions working in sections. Be sure to go over the areas you applied lotion, so you don’t end up with white patches where your knees are, just don’t use as much sunless lotion in those areas.
  • Take off the disposable gloves and apply a very small amount of sunless tanner to the outside of hands and fingers, avoiding palms altogether.
  • Turn on some music and dance around in your bathroom while you wait for the lotion to dry before you get dressed!
  • Do NOT shower, go swimming, scuba diving with sharks or any other activity that will involve water or sweat for 4 hours following your tanning extravaganza as this will remove the color you just applied.

Good luck! You’re an official sunless tanning graduate. Now it’s time to go get your tan on, people!

Are you a beauty beginner? See more 101 classes here!

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Don’t you just love it when you come home from the spa and you smell like a delicious tropical vacation for the rest of the day? Well, I’ve got some good news for you! There is a super quick and easy way to bring the spa experience home with you by making your own coconut body butter! 

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