Battle of the Self-Tanners

If there is ONE beauty product that I literally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually cannot live without, it is self-tanner. Most certainly my numero uno holy grail product of all time! I naturally have very porcelain, pale skin {tricked ya, huh?!} because up until recently, I have avoided the sun like the plague. My self-tanning journey began about a hundred years ago, aka back in high school when I began slathering myself head to toe in Jergen’s Natural Glow gradual buildable smelly ass lotion that would really just tint your skin dark yellow more than anything. Definitely a first generation tanning item, and the slight whiff of this stuff makes me want to hurl to this day. Next, I got a job at a tanning salon when I was a Senior and became the spray tan queen of Gilbert, Arizona. It’s true. My prom date even asked me to the dance by spelling “PROM?” across his perfectly chiseled seventeen year old abs in stickers, tanned, and then peeled them off to reveal his white “PROM?” skin tattoo. Come on, you used to tan with the Playboy Bunny stickers on the hip bone, just admit it!

Since those olden days, self-tanners have come a longgg way & I’ve been sure to try EVERY product on the market over the years in hopes of achieving that perfect natural golden bronze aesthetic all year round. I also have a few little bronzing tricks up my sleeve that I bet you’ve never heard before! Read on for full honest reviews of the top rated self-tanners of the moment: Loving Tan, St. Tropez, FakeBake &... Jergens????? {PLOT TWIST!}

Let me first start with what I look for in a self-tanner. Like I said, I am super fair but I like to maintain a medium/ehhhh maybe “darkish” golden tan at all times. As in… I would NEVER dare leave my apartment looking like a ghost! My skin is also dry & sus af. For some reason, maybe like 5 years ago, I stopped being able to spray tan because no matter HOW moisturized I stayed, my tan would begin rubbing off and giving me reptile-esque skin within 3-4 days. Ummmm no thank you! Also, my skin refuses to absorb the pigments fully? Even if I sleep in a crazy Snooki dark tanner, when I shower in the morning literally 80% of it comes off. Talk about ANNOYING! Moral of the story: I do my self-tanning routine pretty much every time I get ready, so my requirements are that they are ODORLESS and that the immediate color is perfect. Miss me with that green shit {vintage St. Tropez} Speaking of St Tropez, I do not agree with the hype. I bought a travel sized “Express” bottle to take with me to Cabo a few weeks ago & while I thought the color was gorgeous, I feel like it was sticky + never fully dried, and transferred onto EVERYTHING! Stained my leopard bikini on the inside a weird red color even after I washed it… Also gave me reptile scales a few days later. Not to mention it’s $25 for a 1 oz bottle & $50 for a full. Blah. Tan Towels? Trash. The other super hot Aussie brand, Loving Tan, didn’t impress me much either. I did REALLY like the color of the Ultra-Dark Mousse {like I said, no matter what at least 75% of the original color comes off of me after 1 rinse in the shower} but it’s so not worth $50 to me. Also rubbed off weird and it’s a hassle to have it shipped from Australia. Their velour tanning mitt is BOMB though, that’s what I have used for the past year and wouldn’t trade it for any other applicator!

My #1 FAVORITE tanning line EVER is Fake Bake! This brand is so insanely underrated! I alternate between the Flawless Darker {spray} and the Coconut Serum {it’s a super smooth gel/lotion consistency, not serum-y at all IMO} and it’s perfect every single time. Great color, no foul scent {the coconut one kinda smells like a pina colada but the “darker spray” is virtually odorless} it’s a great price, and it just magically fades off as opposed to every other tanner I’ve used that gives you a leporacy-chic aesthetic as it rubs off of your body. If you want to be a real psycho like me, you can use Flawless Darker on your top half & then the Coconut on your legs hehe.

The way I apply my tanner is down to a science. Obviously shower, shave {from the eyebrows down :D} & exfoliate. Then I apply all of my face serums + moisturizers {I always also bring them down my neck!} Blowdry your hair if you have to, as you need to be 10000% dry. If you don’t follow my advice, you will reek of a wet stray dog, I can promise you that much! I don’t mean 5 minutes out of the shower + towel dried, I mean full on dryer than the Sahara desert, okay? Then I use 1 pump of lotion {this is the most heavenly lotion that I live and die for!} and work it into my elbows, knees, and back of the ankles. Then I use my velour Loving Tan mitt and go to town! If I am using the spray, I spray it directly onto my skin working in sections. If a mousse or lotion, obvi pump it into the mitt and work in small sections in circular motions! One of my top skinny hacks is at least applying self tanner on my neck, chest, and décolletage every single time I’m stepping out, no matter what! Even if I’m wearing long-sleeves and jeans, if my chest is exposed at all… it’s getting tanned! It is the ultimate little body contour trick, slimming the neck and making your jawline pop 😉 How do I tan my back, you ask? I don’t. Recruit your boyfriend or bff to tan your back regularly or partake in “Tan Your Back Tuesday” to match your frontside lol. Okay after you’re all tanned, DO NOT put any clothes, perfumes, or deodorants on for at least 20 minutes so it can fully dry and you don’t mess it up! At the 20 minute mark be SURE to apply that “deo for the B.O.” as my friends and I call it, or you are in trouble. Stinky Sally. But if you put it on too soon you will have the most awkward frosty white pits. When it’s fully dry I also spray myself about 100 times over with body spray. Don’t make fun of me, but I use Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar HA!!!!! I swear to you, I get more compliments on my scent than anything else. Clearly I put grown-up perfume over it, but I’d rather sacrifice the fact that I might be smelling like a stripper than be known as the girl who smells like Purina Dog Chow.


Pool/Beach Hack: Use Maui Babe Tanning Browning Lotion. THIS STUFF smells like a dream, gives you the sexiest oily sheen, immediately makes you 2 shades darker {looks like rubbing melted chocolate all over yourself, but whatever} and I mean… helps you get a “REAL” tan?! Pshhh! This is what models use on their bikini shoots. Think: Kara Del Toro *drools*

Going Out hack: Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs in “Medium” on your legs if you’re wearing something short! This stuff is INTENSE and a major game changer. It’s like the FaceTune “Smoother” tool IRL… I’m not kidding!

Be sure to fill me in on YOUR favorite tanners + tricks & let me know if anything above helped a sista out! BTW bear with me as I post one super lame selfie with each blog, this is still amateur hour & I’m still totallllllly working on getting my act together! Love you all more than words could ever describe XOXO

4 Responses
  • Macy Sarbacker
    April, 4, 2018

    LOVE this post! I need to step up my tanning game because I am pale AF. Okay, so a few questions because I’m a newbie self tanner! What do you use to exfoliate?! And- do you use the same tanner on your face? If so, do you apply self tanner and then your makeup? Thanks love!!

    • erikagarrett21
      April, 5, 2018

      So happy you love it!!!! Any body scrub will do, I love the ones by Fresh! And I never use self-tanner on my face, I just buy foundation that matches my tan! I use Too-Faced Born This Way in “Golden Beige” {I always bring the foundation down my neck so it matches} and Mac Studio Fix Powder in NC35 just because I am a pro and my tan is always generally the same color. You can also bronze up with bronzer to match your tan to your neck/chest. I use Bobbi Brown bronzer in “Natural”! I always run bronzer down my neck + chest as well 🙂

  • Natasha Kalita
    February, 12, 2019

    Hey Erika!
    Love this post as I live in the arctic up here and am pale as a ghost. But I’m heading to Florida in March!! Woohoo!
    Question: why use the Fakebake spray only in your top half and not your legs? You said you use the serum on your legs and I don’t want to buy both…
    And does that Maui Babe stuff rub off on everything?
    Love the idea of being a glowing, shiny goddess on the beach!
    Love you and your fb site!

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