Self Tanning 101

Bre Sheppard - Self Tanning 101

Behind The Scenes

From my Instagram story the first time I tried the
Bondi Sands Tanning Lotion!


the basics of tanning at home

Do you have to use a mitt when applying self tanner?
YES. Always use a mitt! If the lotion doesn't come with one, just order one or two off of Amazon. I have tried to apply lotion without a mitt and it does not work at all. Your hands end up soaking in all the lotion and color and turn a horrible color haha, trust me it is much better to use a mitt!

What self tanners have you tried?
I have used Tanceuticals dark tanning lotion, Jergen's daily use lotion, and Jergen's dark tanning foam before trying Bondi Sands (read about my favorite below!). I like Tanceuticals a lot, except for the lotion is white when it comes out of the bottle so it's really hard to tell where it is going. If you can get the layer even the tan is really pretty & natural. But I did wake up one time and had missed a streak on my leg.. in that case there's not much you can do about it haha! 

How often do you use it?
I think it really depends on how much you shower! I shower every day, so I imagine that my tanning lotion washes off quicker when the soap and shampoo is running over it every day. So you might need to apply more often than someone else, but you will pretty quickly get an idea of how often you need to/want to apply it!

What is your favorite drugstore/inexpensive tanning lotion?
I like the Jergen's dark foam a lot as well, but it is definitely a stronger smell and dries a little more sticky! I do like it for a quick tan; in the summer I even will put it on my legs, if I am wearing a skirt or shorts, before I leave the house just to get a quick extra boost of color that wills set in for the rest of the day! 

Why do you use self tanners?
I really like to use self tanners because I have been trying to cut out tanning beds! I used to tan in highschool but I just know how bad the sun is for your skin, especially in a tanning bed with the hot lights just burning your skin. I also think its really expensive to tan all the time, and it's just one more expense that to be honest, I often forget to use anyways! I like that self tanning is done at home and is just an easy application, then you go to bed haha! 

Get your tan on


Tanning lotion in dark

This tanning lotion was one that I had heard so many good things about and was really excited to try out. It did NOT disappoint! The smell is amazing - like coconuts, or a vacation, and I joked on my story that I hoped it would make me look like I took a vacation too. It did haha! I love that it goes on smooth like a regular lotion would, but because of the dark color you can clearly see where you are applying it. A mitt is necessary if you want to have a streak free, smooth tan. And unless you like your hands looking like you just peeled 1,000 oranges, please wear a mitt ha! Below I will walk you through the steps that I take to get a golden tan - sun free! 


1. Exfoliate and clean your whole body; a dry & freshly washed body will take the color better and go on much smoother. I usually do this after I have showered at night, exfoliated with a loofah and am about ready to get in bed. Make sure your skin is dry! Don't put on any lotion before using this because it can cause streaks if you hydrate your skin before. You should be find with patting dry your skin after a shower. You can use lotion after the tanning lotion is washed off. 

2. Apply lotion liberally to the mitt (see application tip #1 - you HAVE to use a mitt!).

3. I like to start on my legs and work my way down my calves my feet. I am always careful to go lightly with the lotion on my feet, hands, knees, and elbows because these areas have folded skin they tend to soak up more color & can look really odd if they are too dark!

4. Next I will do my stomach, chest, back, neck, arms, etc. I like to make sure the lotion is blended really well around my neck, I feel like there's nothing that gives away a fake tan more than weird streaks or super dark splotches haha! I can usually get most of my back pretty good, however if you have a friend or husband who can help get your center back it is super helpful! Matt always does my back so it doesn't streak and I am not missing any spots. Make sure you blend in the lotion/foam you are putting on your back into your sides so it is all seamless. 


5. When your whole body is covered with lotion you should be able to see if there is anywhere that needs more blending - because the lotion is dark brown, you can pretty easily see where the color is. If there is anywhere that seems lighter or needs more blending, you can take your mitt and rub the lotion until its smooth. I would just stick with one layer of lotion as it will set in and give good color without multiple layers!

6. After I apply the tanning lotion/foam I let it dry for about 15 - 30 minutes before putting on sweats and a loose long sleeve shirt. I just let the lotion stay on my skin overnight and soak in so the color gets dark. You can wash off after 30 min to an hour, but I prefer to let it stay on as long as I can! I just shower in the morning and the pigment that is in the lotion will wash off, washing off a little of the tan - so don't be alarmed! The color underneath will stay and look really natural! You can always layer on more the next day if you want to be even darker. If you plan on sleeping with it on like I do, make sure you wear something light and loose that won't rub your skin too much when you sleep. I haven't had any issues with it rubbing off but I imagine any tight clothing (like yoga pants!) might make it dry streaky or smear a little bit. 


Q: How do you apply tanning lotion to your wrist/hand area? I’ve tried multiple ways and am curious to hear what successful way you’ve tried! Thanks!

A: When I apply to my wrist area I don't add any more lotion or foam to the mitt, I just lightly rub it all over my wrist and top of my hands with the little that is left on the mitt! I like to take the color even down my fingers so it doesn't just stop right at my wrist if that makes sense! It can also help to wash your hands again a few hours after applying, instead of letting them stay overnight. Heels, elbows and wrists take a few times to sort of see how your skin takes the color and where you might need to go lighter! Hope that helps! :)

Other TipS & TRICKS

Sometimes I will even use it on my legs if I get dressed for the day and am wearing a skirt or shorts and want some more color! If you just put a little on a mitt and rub it on your legs (still making sure it is even and smooth) you can keep it on all day and rinse off when you get home. I like to do this before a photoshoot so my legs are getting color throughout the day! Don't do this is you are wearing jeans or pants, because the lotion will smudge and smear. Make sure you rinse off before getting into any type of water, lake, or swimming pool because the lotion & foam will wash off if it gets wet! When I rinse off the lotion the next morning I like to keep the water lukewarm and NOT scrub too hard. 

I love using self tanner in the Winter to get that GLOW, but layering it on as lotion in the Summer is a great way to enhance your natural tan even more! I love to wear it on my legs and arms, and focus on my neck & chest when I am wearing dresses or tanktops. It may sound odd, but I just love way a tan makes me feel haha - and I love tanning lotion because I can do it in my own home and it doesn't damage my skin the way that tanning beds do! 

Hope these tips help you get your best tan!

If you have any other questions for me about what tanners I have used or anything about my process for using it, please comment below & I will add them into this post!

Bre Sheppard - Self Tanning 101