Over the past couple of years, one of the most commonly asked beauty questions is in regard to my favorite self tanner. I’m more than happy to be an advocate for self tanners though because they are much safer than tanning beds/sun. I’ve never really shared on my blog but I actually have a rare liver disease that keeps me from being able to spend more than 30 minutes exposed to sun. I was born with the disease so all I have ever known is sunless tanning! 

That being said, I am constantly trying new products and I’m so picky because I’ve tried so many I know which ones are really good! When we were renovating our bathroom, I had to clean out the cabinets and I threw away so many tanning products that weren’t good and these were the ones I kept. (There’s one product I actually kept just to share my review – bc I didn’t like it!)

TANNING ROUTINE

First off, anytime I travel somewhere sunny/beachy (i.e. Maui) I always get a spray tan before at a local spot. I believe they use the Mystic Booth. (And my doctor does approve of this – definitely do what your doctor tells you though!) When I do the Mystic Tan, I always choose the darkest color – mainly because it isn’t THAT dark and I am Indian (Native American) so even just 25 minutes in the sun, I start to brown and have always tanned quickly. Prior to the spray tan, I always shave – and I do it at like 8pm the night before I fly out! That way, when I come home I pack, go to sleep, and wake up tan!

While on the trip, I usually shower, get in the pool/beach, etc. so I lose the tan. The key to not losing it is packing a really good gradual tanning lotion that is hydrating (many drug store ones are not hydrating enough). I apply the lotion nightly before bed – every night of the trip. Not only does this restore some color, but it keeps your skin soft so that the tan doesn’t break up as much or wear off as quickly. The gradual tanning lotion that I love the most is HERE. Also, if you just want a light tan that looks neat and clean, using this alone regularly is perfect. This particular lotion has 48 HR hydration and also works to create a brown, natural looking tan.

RECOMMENDED TANNING PRODUCTS

First of all, I haven’t been getting spray tans as much while pregnant. I’m so tired that it kind of is the last thing I want to do! But, trust me, I need a tan more than ever! Especially the bigger I get! My poor body is starting to get puffy so I try to apply at-home selfless tanners 1-2x per week {to distract from puffiness!}. John usually does it for me which makes all the difference – if you have someone to help with application, it usually looks more even.
The tanning product I have used most the past 2 months is by Loving Tan. I use the shade ‘Ultra Dark’ – but if you are new to this brand, I would recommend starting with a lighter shade. The reason I like this product is because it is geared toward olive skin tones which is what I am. It makes you very brown! No orange at all. I tried the 2 HR Express and didn’t fall in love… I prefer the regular (for me anyway.) The downsides to this product are that it wears off kind of ‘ugly’ – at least on my skin. Once I have worn the tan for a few days, it looks a little cray cray on my hands and feet. The product does wear very well so it’s hard to scrub off the remainder splotchy spots. Also, the only other downside is that the actual Loving Tan Site is out of Australia so shipping can take a while. :/ However, if you use code ‘THESWEETESTTHING’ you can get your applicator mitt for free. And NO – this is totally not sponsored. In fact, I am linking to THIS SITE as well bc I think you can get the product in 2-3 days as opposed to 7-10 days on the actual LT site

Next up is the St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Mousse – and it is a front runner with the Loving Tan. I really like this and the Express Mousse. Both make me crazy dark and very brown. Absolutely no orange. It may not be quite as brown as the LT ‘Ultra Dark’ but I will say it doesn’t wear off as ‘ugly’ or splotchy. I keep all of these in my tanning drawer because they all work really well for me depending on the occasion. The Express Mousse is amazing if you need a tan – and you need it STAT. It will come through for sure – and you will be ‘brown as a biscuit’ – as my mom says. 🙂 If you don’t want to be too dark, you can get the medium and it will be perfect. 

Okay, the next product is St. Moriz and it is like $13 at Ulta… this product is best if you are looking to save some money. I believe in this case that you get what you pay for – but the St. Moriz is the best self tanner for a drug store price. 

Moving on, I thought I’d share two of my favorite Instant Tan products – like make-up for your legs. I love the Sally Henson spray BUT its a little thick//heavy. So I prefer to use THIS one or THIS one instead. Both are a lighter but give you an instant tan/glow. I sometimes apply this to my chest and neck if I am really pale to give myself some color. They also do a good job at hiding flaws and all.

LAST but not least… a product that I am not super wild about… the St. Tropez In Shower Tanning Product. I had high hopes for this and was disappointed. It’s a hassle more than anything – you have to let it sit so you end up freezing in the shower waiting for the product to wear in… Sure, it will give you a bit of color but I’d rather just lather up in THIS product before bed and wake up with a neat tan at no hassle.

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Overall – my tips are to ALWAYS use a mitt!! Always! And some mitts are better than others os keep that in mind. And also, I don’t love many of the other St. Tropez Products – just the ones I mentioned so don’t just stick to one brand! And to maintain a tan always use a hydrating, daily tanning lotion. Those are simple to use and won’t cause ugly streaking. 

THIS KIT is really good if you are new or want an affordable starter pack.

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My leopard bench is HERE.
My acrylic board across the sink was a Shopbop Sale purchase HERE.
Diptyque candle HERE.

EDIT! Im adding a photo I took last winter of my legs the morning I woke up after applying the St. Tropez Dark Tanning Mousse.

8 Comments
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8 thoughts on “Best Tanning Products + My Self Tanning Routine

  1. Hello Emily, I hope you are doing fine and your ankle is better !
    thank you for your post of self tanners, as always it is very helpful. i know of st-tropez products (we have them here in switzerland too) . I was wondering if you knew of vita liberata products, they are kind of high-end but good products i have to say. voila :))

    i wish you a lovely day and greetings from sunny montreux.

    Alice

  2. Hi Emily,

    I am wondering if these self tanners come off on your sheets? If so, I have a great product for you from my company Wear & Away. It is a Sheet Protector for $19.99.

    All the best,

    Laurie

  3. i TOTALLY AGREE WITH THE ST. TROPEZ IN SHOWER. i WAS SO EXCITED WHEN I SAW IT BECAUSE i THOUGHT IT WOULD BE CONVENIENT BUT IT WAS THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE. i WILL DEFINITELY BE TRYING THE GRADUAL TAN.

  4. hey I just searched your site to see what self tanner you recommend. I am thinking of purchasing the gradual tan lotion from st tropez you recommended as well as the st tropez mousse. Is this still what you would recommend for someone to use regularly to stay tan? Also other then shaving, do you put anything on your skin before applying the mousse? or do you just apply it to freshly cleaned and dried skin? also i think i have heard you say on insta stories that you do not tan your face. do you tan your neck? or ears? just wondering how i will make my neck/face/ear area look normal. thanks!

  5. Random question, but Do you wash Or replenish your mitts after so long? I use st. Tropaz as well but my mItt looks so gross after a Couple of uses that i feel like it is so not sanitary lol

  6. I just saw your instagram story and i have also tried some of the self tanner you use. my newest favorite which you may like is the st. tropez self tanning purity water. it leaves my skin feeling so silky because of the hydrating water. it goes on clear and does not smell. it is definitely buildable, but i love it because of the hydrating side. other tanners really dry my skin out. i bought mine from ulta because they had it on special offer, but i believe it’s a pretty new product.