Faux Sunshine

It’s that time of year when the temperatures start getting warmer and clothes start showing more skin. I am always shocked with the paleness of my skin come this time of year — I mean, I’m almost iridescent pink! Shout out to my friend who will flat out tell me to go get a spray tan when she sees my pale skin!  Thank you Stef 😉

So, it’s the perfect time of year to fill you in on some of my self-tanner faves and some tips/tricks of the trade for getting that perfect faux sunshine glow on that pale body of yours. Who gets a real tan anyways these days, right? It’s proven how bad the sun is for you (and makes you age a lot faster), and if you’ve been lucky enough to not know someone affected by melanoma, then count your blessings!

Now let’s discuss how to get that perfect faux glow!!!

Do you want to spray tan or use self tanner?

Both can be really great! I do both depending on what I need the color for.  I’ll spray tan for events or special occasions, but if I just want to get some color during those warmer months on a regular basis, I will do self-tanner on my own.

When to Spray Tan

When I want color quick and don’t have the time to mess around with the application myself, I run to The Palms Tanning Resort for a quick spray tan. I’m in and out in under 10 minutes flat and get a perfect golden tan every single time. They have both the Mystic and the VersaPro tan machines and both do the job just fine. The VersaPro is probably a better user experience (aka warmer and has additional options), but the Mystic seems to hold on my skin longer which I appreciate.

Sidenote: Both systems use a tanning product that is a gluten free, paraben free and cruelty free product so that’s a plus!

If you’ve never gone to get a spray tan before, follow these steps to maximize your experience:

1 – Exfoliate (with a gentle exfoliator) your entire body daily for the few days leading up to your spray tan day. This will slough off dry skin (tanner adheres to dry skin patches, therefore if you have patches, your color will look uneven). Since we are coming out of winter, I like to do this a few times leading up to getting sprayed just to ensure my skin is in tip-top shape.

2 – Moisturize your skin daily after you exfoliate. Again, this will help your skin have a more even texture, therefore the spray tan will likely look more even as well.

3 – Do NOT put lotion on your body on spray tan day. Because spray tan does adhere to dryer skin better, it’s best to not have any other product on your skin prior to your spray tan being applied. So shower and pat your skin dry and skip lotion or any other oils/etc.

4 – DO follow the instructions while in the spray tanning machine!  We don’t want a Ross situation on our hands!  “I’m a TEN????!!!!!!!!” “Mississippilessly?”  I could go on and on….If you get these quotes, we’ll get along just fine! 🙂


5 – DO use the barrier cream generously (wherever you don’t want color), especially on the bottoms of your feet! Generally speaking, you’ll put the barrier cream on the bottoms of your feet, around your toenails, on the palms of your hands and around your nailbeds/cuticles.

6 – Do NOT shower for the recommended time post spray tan. Most products instruct you to not shower for a minimum of 4 hours.  Me? I like to wait at least a full 24 hours after my spray tan to shower for the first time. This lets the spray tan really “soak in” and I feel like my color lasts at least a full week when I do this. And I’m really weird and actually like the smell of spray tan! lol  Poor Casey!

5 – Once you do shower, apply lotion to your skin immediately post shower and then daily to keep your skin looking it’s best.  It’s best to stay away from any oils as those could really break down the tanning product and it will rub off.

That’s it! I’m always shocked when people tell me they’ve never gotten a spray tan!  Easiest way to look 5 pounds trimmer and feel better about yourself with minimal effort AND all for under $30!

When to use Self-Tanner

Around this time of year, I usually invest in a bottle or two of self-tanner to keep on hand so that when I need to, I can just apply it myself and be ready to feel not as pasty-white on a regular basis. I have done the trial-and-error method at finding some of my faves so I’ve shared those with you so you hopefully don’t have to go through the same thing. However, everyone’s skin is different and products work differently on different people. But hopefully you’ll have some luck with one of my recommendations.

Disclaimer: If you’ve been following me for a little bit, you probably know I lean towards cleaner beauty products so there may be some other really amazing tanners, but if they are full of parabens/etc, they aren’t going to make my list.

First of all, same directions that I listed above also go for applying self-tanner.  Make sure you’re skin is exfoliated and moisturized, but then don’t moisturize immediately prior to applying your self tanner. I also think a tanning mitt is a handy product to have when doing your own application.

Chocolate Sun

Chocolate Sun is probably one of my very favorite products I’ve EVER purchased. This stuff smells delicious and is very forgiving in it’s application. Not to mention, it’s organic and full of amazing ingredients you can be sure are safe for your skin. I used the Cocoa Glow Sunless Tanning Face & Body for medium to dark skin tones (even though I am NOT medium to dark, I just like color and feel comfortable applying this). If you’re unsure about getting an even application, go for the Cocoa Lite, but like I said, this stuff is pretty forgiving so it’s hard to get a streaky/uneven look. They also have very detailed instructions on the best order to apply this to your body, love that! And I love how this made my skin feel, it’s basically a moisturizer too. And at $40, this bottle lasted me almost an entire summer (about 3 – 4 months) so that’s a steal! I will say that having a beauty spatula to get every last drop out of this bottle is a handy little tool to have.  I bought mine on Amazon for about $6. (linked here)

Last, I love that this is made and sold in Santa Monica, that place holds my heart!


Alba Botanica Sunless Tanner

This stuff is a great budget-friendly option for creating a sunless tan, I have bought this on multiple occasions to get some color going on my legs and/or arms. When I just need a little something, I grab this. I have to be honest, I have gotten uneven applications with this stuff on my legs, but I think it’s mostly because I’m in a hurry when doing it. It’s not too drastic of a tanner, so I feel like it’s fairly forgiving in that regard. But it does give you color so you can’t just apply it like a lotion either, you do need to make sure to get it everywhere you want color.  This stuff doesn’t smell too bad, but again, I don’t mind that familiar self-tanner smell.

I didn’t link this product because I couldn’t find it online at Target or Whole Foods, but I know both those places sell this. You could probably find it at Vitamin Cottage as well. It’s typically under $10 for a bottle and if you use it daily or even just a couple times a week on your whole body, you’ll go through it pretty quickly because it’s not a huge bottle.  But at that price, it’s an easy thing to just throw in the cart every so often when getting groceries.

alba botanica sunless tanner

Josie Maran Argan Liquid Gold Self Tanning Face Oil

If you’re just looking to get a little faux sunshine on your face and neck area because the rest of your body isn’t exposed all that much, then this is for you!  I absolutely love the subtle color I get from this stuff – and my skin feels so good after using it!  It does have a bit of that signature self-tanner scent, but again, that didn’t bother me at all.

This stuff goes on so smooth, was not streaky at all and easily absorbed quickly. I applied this at night actually so I would wake up with some color on my face, and that was the perfect plan. It’s also an anti-aging product and improves skin tone and texture! I think I will likely add this as my face oil during the spring and summer months – I love it!  It’s $42, but being that it’s a face oil as well that nourishes your skin (something I regularly purchase anyways), I’m all for the price because it’s like I’m getting 2 products in 1!



Sephora has a super cute set right now by Tarte (one of my fave lines) that is a Girls just want to have sun brozing set for $17!!! What a perfect way to kick off your faux glow routine with a set that has a self tanner, a tanning face towelette (which are so easy and fun to use, I love tanning towlettes!), an instant waterproof tanner (Better Bod) and their waterproof bronzer powder. In fact, why isn’t this in MY cart right now? I need it! The one thing I do love about their FULL size products though is that they come with a handy application mitt – so if you want the mitt, invest in a full size of one of these sunless wonder products!  Better Bod is a waterproof and instant tanner where as Brazilliance Plus Self Tanner is a more traditional self-tanner that shows up around 4 hours post application, but bonus, also has a PURE-shield scent control technology so no self-tanner smell here, and I seriously LOVED the golden hue and color this product gave me when I used it.


A couple other products I’m dying to try this season are:

First Aid Beauty Slow Glow Gradual Self-Tanning Moisturizer – $28…I love everything I’ve tried so far by this line so I’m anxious to see if I feel the same about this product.

COOLA Sunless Tan Dry Body Oil Mist – $46…It’s out of stock right now, of course, but this is on my list of things to try once it becomes available again.

I hope you found this list helpful if you’re a self-tanning rookie, or even if you’re familiar with using self-tanner or spray tanning! My goal is to help you find that perfect product that gives you the sun-kissed glow you’re looking for this spring and summer!

Now go get your bronze on ladies and gents! xo

Sun Kisses from Sarah K



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