I feel like I should have written this post so long ago since it’s such a frequent question! I do have a highlight on IG saved on it but figured it was time to get it on the blog! I will first say that I have tried A LOT of self-tanners. Gels, mousses, sprays, lotions, gradual tanners, etc. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. And last year I feel like I finally perfected my tanning routine. Dark enough color and not orange, no streaks, doesn’t smell bad, doesn’t get on my clothes or sheets, and only have to apply 1x a week (and I still have color when I reapply).
First I’m going to break down and link the products I use and then I’ll share my actual routine. *I typically order all these below from HSN because they always have really good deals vs. ordering from Ulta, Sephora, etc.
Tan Luxe Body Med/Dark Drops (I also use these on my face. They have face drops but I can’t tell a difference when I’ve used them vs. the body ones. Maybe if you have more sensitive skin? But you can grab them in a bundle for a really good price here.) Each bottle lasts me about 3 months.
Tan Luxe Gradual Tanning Lotion (Sold out at HSN but priced the same at Ulta. But this is what I mix this with the dark drops. Can also use regular lotion but I find that the gradual tanning lotion helps with color being a little darker and lasting longer).
Tan Luxe Illuminating Tanning Butter Use this about 2x week in between self-tanning sessions.
I don’t necessarily have a set day that I tan each week, but it’s about 1x week. Honestly, this self-tanner lasts as long time. It would probably take me close to 2 weeks to get back to my totally natural color and for the product to totally wear off. However, applying it 1x a week keeps the tan from fading too drastically. But for the sake of this blog, I’m just going to say that I self-tan on a Monday and go from there.
Monday: That morning I shower, shave, and (sometimes) exfoliate. I’ll be honest, I probably exfoliate about 2x a month but not before every tanning session. That night is when I then self-tan. I always tan before bed because I can wear looser fitting clothing while the tanner is setting in, it doesn’t rub off on my sheets, and this way the color is absorbing on my hands for 8ish hours. No thanks to any pale hands/weird self-tan lines at your wrists.
So as far as the actual application process goes, I mix the dark drops with the gradual tanning lotion. The nice thing about the drops is that you can tailor your tan. Basically the more drops you mix with the lotion = the darker you will be. That being said, I typically use a half dropper for each arm and then a full dropper for each leg (half dropper on my thigh area and then half dropper on my shins/calves). For my face, just 1-2 drops in my moisturizer. After I’ve applied everywhere, I wash my hands thoroughly.
Then for my hands and feet, I take a kabuki brush (like this one), and apply 1-2 drops of only the gradual tanning lotion on it, and then rub it onto the tops of my feet and hands (so 1-2 drops for each foot, and each hand). The brush really helps to blend the color and get in the harder spots like in between your fingers, and where your hand and wrist meet.
Last step is I then take a makeup wipe and wipe my palms, inside of my wrists, elbows, and around my ankles just in case there is any extra build up there.
Tuesday: Regular lotion/moisturizer
Wednesday: Illuminating Tanning Butter
Thursday: Regular lotion/moisturizer
Friday: Illuminating Tanning Butter
Saturday/Sunday: Regular lotion/moisturizer
I know that the description of how I apply may sound like a lot, but the whole process takes me about 10 minutes and it’s done for the whole week and my color actually lasts! I feel like the tan luxe products are a little more expensive but I only repurchase them every few months so I feel like the cost is pretty reasonable considering how low it lasts. Plus it doesn’t transfer to my white sheets, it doesn’t smell, streak, color stays put (if I tan the night before and workout the next day it doesn’t drip off), etc. I have more saved on my self-tanner highlight but if you have any questions, let me know!