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self tanner review

Self Tanner Review

Updated: March 2019

Wow! It’s been almost two years since I originally shared my self tanner routine. Oddly, not much has changed. I’ve added in one key product, but the rest of my self tanner staples have stayed the same. 

As you may know, I have a full time job outside of blogging, so I’m stuck inside most of the day. This being said, my skin misses out on a lot of sunlight. In high school, I can remember heading to American Tan Stand EVERY SINGLE DAY after school or softball practice and fake baking. I cannot believe I let myself do that. Now, I lather on SPF 70+ (not kidding, my mom buys this), or relax in the shade most of the time if I am outside. But, I personally still enjoy having a little color on me that looks natural, and that’s where I have fun with self tanners.

I’m always jealous because my dad can be outside the entire day and walk inside un-burnt with bronzed skin. My mom, though, has red hair and freckles, and she has had more than enough dermatologist visits reminding her to stay out of the sun. My skin growing up was like my dad’s, but I feel like when I turned 20, things started to cross over. I had my first skin check in college, and it didn’t go as well as I wanted. My dermatologist found a few moles that weren’t healthy looking, as well as spots that needed to be tested. After they biopsied these spots, they let me know they were abnormal. I now go to the dermatologist every six months and to-date, I have had multiple spots removed which all classify as minor surgeries. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have your skin checked! Although I hate my scars from these, I can’t imagine what my skin would look like if I had let these go unnoticed.

After my first skin check, I started to look into self tanners and spray tanning. In the past five years, I have become the go-to person for my friends if they have questions about either. They know I’m the girl who’s tested out everything and EVERY place.

The self tanners and suggestions I’ve rounded up today work on all skin types and tones. They are a variety of price points, but I would say you need to watch price point based on your complexion and the way your skin reacts to sunlight. I’ll dive into this more on the separate self tanners below.

Self Tanner Review | Margaret Paige Lifestyle Blog

Before I explain all of my favorites for the self tanner review, I have a few tips & tricks:


Before you put on a self tanner or get a spray tan, you should shower and exfoliate. If you don’t remove any excess skin or dirt on your body, your tan will come out streaky. You also should do this right before because you won’t be able to shower for, in my opinion, at least 8-10 hours after you put on self tanner. To avoid the weird smell self tanners give, this will help. To exfoliate, I just use Bath & Body works shower scrubs. The stress line is my favorite (it smells super minty).

Use Shaving Cream

Along with exfoliating, make sure you shave. You cannot shave after you apply self tanner or get a spray tan; it will take the tan off. Also, do not use a dull razor. If you have any bumps or spots from shaving, they will fill with self tanner and discolor.

Use A Mit

If your’e applying a foam self tanner, USE A MIT. Truthfully, I went all of college without doing this and I think not spending that $6 is one of my biggest regrets. The insides of my fingers and my nails looked disgusting after application. A mitt, like this one, will create an even tan and I’ve found it’s easier to get to hard-to-reach spots, like your back, with.

When To Tan

I will let you know how long the self tanners I use below last, but I put on self tanner once a week, on Thursday evenings. This gives me the chance to shower in the evening, apply tanner, and then when I shower again in the morning or Friday after work, my tan is ready for the weekend (Spray tan at least 24 hours in advance of your event-NOT the day of)! If you are afraid you’re too dark-don’t shower no matter what! You will fade when you shower after waiting, I promise. If you shower too early, you’ll streak and have water spots. I also revolve using self tanner/spray tanning around when I wash my sheets. Do not plan on sleeping with anything light colored right after use. In fact, I put a towel on my pillowcase if I get a spray tan.

Like I said, I’ve tried every self tanner under the sun, but these won my self tanner review over. Yours may be different, as we all have different skin, but I hope this list is helpful for you!

Self Tanner Review | Margaret Paige Lifestyle Blog

St. Tropez – For Tanning Your Body

I’m sure you’ve seen St. Tropez all over the internet and magazines winning best self tanner awards. This continues to be my go-to. This is what I use every Thursday. I apply with my mitt all over my body. This leaves my skin streak-free and is instant; however, it does continue to develop throughout the next few hours. I like to put on two layers of this, sometimes three on my legs. I would say this lasts 5-7 days on my body. I would recommend this to skin types that are fair-medium-or naturally tan. If you have olive skin or freckly skin, this is going to look un-natural. This is also a higher price point (about $50 for the large bottle), but the bottle lasts me 4-6 months, which is cheaper than getting regular spray tans. Right now, you can get the St. Tropez self tanner HERE on the Nordstrom sale in a package deal!

self tanner review

Tan Luxe – The Face

I discovered this product this year from a fellow blogger. I loved how natural her tan looked and how this was specifically built for your face. It’s also incredibly easy to apply. This product is a glass bottle of drops. You mix it with your moisturizer (I use this from Nordstrom, it’s pricey, but doesn’t make me breakout). I add 3-4 drops for an even, medium tan. It’s best to put on at night before bed and let it stay on your skin while you sleep. It won’t come off in the morning in the shower, but I don’t wash my face the next morning just in case.

Although this is also pricey, I have had the same bottle for three months now and it isn’t even 1/3 gone. A lot of times St. Tropez made my skin unnaturally dark, so Tan Luxe has saved me!

L’Oreal Self Tanning Towelettes

I stumbled upon these on the Cartwheel app in 2017 and decided to try them out (since they were on sale, why not?!). They threw me off because the towelette is clear! It’s basically like wiping a makeup remover wipe (that’s what it looks like) all over your body. Although it can be difficult to cover all areas of yourself, these gradually develop into very natural-looking color – if you use, make SURE you wipe that thing ALL over yourself to keep it even. I would recommend this for medium skin tones (look at my skin if you’re wondering, as it worked for me). These are only $8-10 and have six wipes/box. They’re great for needing a tan the next day – not instantly instant like St. Tropez.

South Seas Tahitian Tan Mist

I found this at my favorite spray tan boutique, Shine, in Omaha. If you’re looking for a refresh on your spray tan or tanning just your face, this should be your go-to. This also works for any skin tone and type, as it’s a spray. I would call this a spray tan in a can. It is very natural-looking color and as long as you spray a few inches away from your face, it applies evenly. Honestly, I’ve used it on my whole body when I’m feeling gutsy and want to be darker! Random, but this is what I’ve heard they use on the dancers for DWTS. This is the same price point as St. Tropez, and I think it lasts about the same length of time.


Be sure to let me know if you try any of these – or if you have any questions on either self or spray tanning! What do you currently use?!

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