The fact is that we all want flawless, glowing skin, especially in spring and summer when it’s time for skirts, shorts, dresses, and bikinis. But the fact is that we’re not all oh-so-lucky to get that natural tan easily as sunbathing is a long process and not the healthiest one at that.
The good news is that there’s an alternative to getting a dark(ish) tan without having to expose our skin to the sun, risking to damage it and cause it to age faster. Using a self-tanner can be a great option to get a naturally tanned skin with a healthy glow.
Let’s have a look at the best self-tanners for beginners; these are all-natural and made with high-quality ingredients. Click for top tips on how to use fake tanning lotions and see how they actually work!
Here’s the thing; it took me many years to even consider getting a sunless tan. I’m naturally quite pale. While I don’t burn that easy and get a tan on my shoulders quite quickly, everything else of my body normally just stays white (apart from my nose, it loves to put itself out there with Rudolph-like red color). And for the longest time, I was convinced that I prefer my alabaster skin to the deep brown summer tan most people usually go for.
What I didn’t realize for years was that I didn’t have alabaster skin. Okay? I was too self-confident just there. On the contrary, my skin looked ghastly pale, with specks of red and blue; ugh! I was quite disappointed when I finally admitted that fact.
But here’s the problem: I’m not a fan of the scorching sun burning my skin; I’m pretty sensitive to it and tend to suffer from head-splitting headaches when I spend too much time in the direct summer sun (sometimes even 20 minutes is all that it takes). That’s why I also don’t sunbathe (plus, I find it pretty boring). But I love to wear shorts and dresses in the summer. But then again, black shorts on ghostly pale legs are…well, I’ve heard comments (and they were justified!).
So, to tone the pale appearance down and for a kick of confidence and without any ray of the scorching sun, I decided to look for a solution. And I did. I turned to self-tanners instead and I’ve been a regular user every time the first summer heat starts knocking.
If you’re in a similar situation, I have a treat for you! We’ll have a look at the effective tips that can help you get started with the self-tanning process. Below, you can find all the best tanners (in my experience) that are solid when it comes to results and quality ingredients.
How do you fake-tan for beginners?
- Exfoliate before you apply fake tan; I like to do it a couple of hours before even the night before
- Use a body scrub that’s oil-free or dry brush instead
- Shave 24 hours before you apply self-tanner and wax two days before the application
- Apply moisturizer after you exfoliated to get smooth skin which improves the application. Pay attention to wrists, hands, knees, elbows, ankles, and feet; any dry patches can result in an uneven tan (and potential orange color instead of brown)
- Thinner skin needs less tan lotion; go lighter on your face, throat, and feet
- Apply self-tanner in sections, begin at your ankles and work your way to the top to prevent any marks
- If applying with your hands, wash them after you complete each section, and dry them well before you continue
- Take a teaspoon-size of lotion into your hands at a time and apply it with gentle circular motions
- Apply fake tan to your arms and hands lastly
- Don’t rub the tanning lotion into your skin; the gentle application will do the trick
- When you’re done, wear loose-fitted clothes
- Don’t sweat after you’ve applied your tan: gym, cleaning, and other activities will have to wait
- Don’t apply a second coat over the first, still fresh coat, right away
- Take your time and don’t rush when applying the fake tanner
Best self-tanners for newbies
For a natural sun-kissed skin without spending hours in the sun, BBE Self Tanner is an excellent option for all who’re looking for a healthy tan without orange hue or unwanted patches of color. This was the first self-tanner that I’ve tried and it’s been my go-to product ever since.
To be honest, I was pretty skeptical when I first ordered this tanner. I have tried a few other BBE products before it and I’ve liked them as they’re natural and cruelty-free with high-quality ingredients. When I added my fist fake tanner into a basket for purchase, I felt very embarrassed for some reason, but I decided to do myself and my skin a favor (a kick of confidence and all that).
BBE has a clean formula with natural ingredients; it’s a lotion that contains great stuff for the skin as well, such as aloe vera juice, shea butter, coconut oil, and botanical extracts that keep the skin nourished and hydrated, building the tan gradually, one layer at the time, with sugar cane derived DHA.
When I first tried it, I was thrilled to notice that my tan changed without any orange splashes of color. The lotion is quite easy to apply and I was finally ready to wave my ghostly looking skin goodbye (my legs and tummy are horribly pale). My skin reached the change of color by the time I woke up in the morning. If you’re not happy with the tone, you can always reapply the lotion again the following day. I noticed that for me, it works best to reapply it every 3-4 days to maintain the tone.
I’m not the biggest fan of the scent, but that’s nothing unusual with self-tanners. The scent fades after a while so it’s not too important to me. I normally apply this tanner in the afternoon when I’m home alone, not going out and taking an evening for myself. I also use the same product on my face, even though BBE has a separate face tanner, I’m happy to have a 2-in-1 product just for the sake of laziness!
If you’re one of those people who prefer spray tan, this is an excellent alternative during the quarantine. Just don’t forget to put on a baggy shirt and shorts after you’re done to avoid staining.
- Promotes glowing skin
- No harsh chemicals
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- No streaking or blotching
- Soft, hydrated skin
- Safe for everyone
- Certified organic
- Made in the USA
- Not the best scent
With an eco-certified sugar beet sourced DHA, this is another fake tanner that’s formulated with high-quality ingredients to substitute the sunbathing process and provide you with a healthier alternative and a natural-looking tan. I tested Suntegrity tan a few times when I got it as a present and I was very pleased with the results. I was worried about the orange color and unwanted streaks, but it was great to see that it doesn’t cause any.
Suntegrity is easy enough to apply; perhaps a bit easier than BBE tan, but with similar results and a more pleasant scent. It won’t give you deep dark tan, but you can expect even and natural, glowing skin tone without any splotches.
I applied this one every 3 days to maintain the new tone; if it started to look funky, I exfoliated my skin and started the process all over again. I loved that it kept my skin tanned and hydrated at the same time due to botanical extracts, and nourishing oils and butter (mango butter, sunflower, jojoba, and sweet almond oil). After reading online reviews, some users mentioned that it reminds them of Jergens Natural Glow (but better); I’ve never tried it but the reviews were very promising!
- Easy application
- Glowing skin and natural tan
- Eco-certified DHA
- Packed with botanical extracts
- Free of harmful ingredients and chemicals
- Pleasant scent
- Not best for a deep, dark tan
Packed with natural and organic ingredients, Cocoa Glow has a delicious scent of chocolate that gives the skin a lovely natural tanned and healthy glow. This is the #2 of their fake tan collections, where #1 targets very pale skin. I tried that one as well, but haven’t seen any noticeable changes on my skin so I tried this one instead.
I haven’t tried any chemical self-tanners so I can’t say how it compares with those, but I was pleased with the results. Just like the other two on the list, this one contains natural ingredients (such as sunflower seed oil, aloe vera gel, coconut oil, green tea extract) and beet sugar derived DHA.
The color of this tanner developed overnight and I was pleased to notice the natural tone it gave it. But, I wasn’t very satisfied with the results of the first application, so I reapplied it again the following day. It was much better then, without any orange hue or streaking. The color was subtle but it was just right for what I wanted to achieve.
Make sure to moisturize your skin prior the application to avoid it turning orange (which can happen on very dry spots). For best effects, apply it with a mitt/glove and let it dry well/overnight.
Honestly, for the price tag I’d be happier if it lasted longer but then I’m aware that it’s not a permanent solution to my pale skin, only a topical lotion that does its best for what it is.
- Natural ingredients
- Applies smoothly
- No streaking
- Non-greasy fake tanner
- Sugar-beet derived DHA
- Chocolate scent
- Slightly stinky the following day
- A bit pricier than other two tanners
Tips on achieving the best tan
- Don’t shower with hot water as the tan will fade faster
- After showers, pat your skin instead of rubbing it to prolong the tan
- Apply moisturizer on the days you’re not tanning
- Apply self-tanner weekly to build it up
- Keep your skin hydrated; drink water and use moisturizers
- Bronzers can help brighten the tan as it begins to fade and boost the glow
FAQ on self-tanning for beginners
What is DHA and why is it in fake tanners?
DHA or dihydroxyacetone is an active ingredient that reacts with the skin cells. It helps to stain the skin and cause a tan to develop. The depth of a tan depends on the amount of DHA in a product; the more DHA in fake tanner, the darker the skin will become.
DHA is a carbohydrate; it’s sourced naturally or chemically. It takes a couple of hours for the DHA to start working. This component is also responsible for the fake tan smell.
What to use to apply fake tan without a mitt?
Get creative; there are a few easy ways to apply your fake tan if you don’t have a mitt:
- Use a rubber glove
- Use a sock
- Apply the tanner with your hands (but make sure to wash them well afterward)
- Try it with a cling film as the last resort (wrap it around your hands well)
Can I apply self-tanner two days in a row?
Yes, you can. I tried it on a few occasions when I didn’t get the results I wanted after the first application.
Do self-tanners protect against sunburn?
No, self-tanners don’t normally contain any ingredients that would protect your skin from sunburn, so make sure you’re using a high-quality sunscreen when planning to spend a day in the sun.
Best self-tanner for beginners: A Recap
There’s an ongoing discussion about whether you should fake tan or not. No matter your choice, having a high-quality self-tanner on hand is a great alternative to sunbathing and spray tans.
Fake-tanning isn’t as complicated as it seems as long as you take your time when applying it, especially if you’re new to it. in my experience, using latex gloves while working around my skin gradually, one step at a time works best. Whatever you do, keep in mind that it takes a bit of practice to get it right.
When it comes to self-tanners, the options are numerous; the market is flooded with them, and finding the one that works for you best normally takes a bit of testing. I’m not really into chemical-filled products, even though they may be very effective. Still, I prefer to know and understand what I’m slathering on my skin.
Out of the many self-tanners available, if I had to choose one, it would be Beauty By Earth Self Tanner. I trust the brand, they use high-quality ingredients and don’t fool around with unnecessary fillers and chemicals. They use naturally derived DHA along with skin-loving ingredients, which is definitely a huge plus for me.
By now, I’m already used to the product so I know how to work with it for the best results. I don’t expect to go dark brown from ghostly white overnight, so I’m happy with the even and natural-looking tan that I get from using the product. Sure, the smell isn’t the best, but that’s pretty common with most self-tanners. I reapply the product once every few days and when I notice it getting funky, I exfoliate and repeat the whole process all over again.
To maintain a good-looking tan, make sure to moisturize the skin regularly, stay hydrated, and shower with warm water instead of hot. With a bit of effort, you’ll be able to enjoy a natural and glowing skin without spending hours in the sun!