There once was a time when I did not think about sun damage at all. Having dark skin meant sunscreens weren't really necessary (in my mind) and the darker I got during the summer, the better.
My sister and I during our beach vacations would lather up with SPF 2 (yes, two) + baby oil and bask in the sun from 10-3 daily.
And in high school and college, I even frequented (shall I admit it?!) the tanning bed during the off season to keep that subtle brown color year-round.
Oh the shame.
I really wasn't until I hit age 24ish that I stopped the tanning bed completely and started trying out various self-tanners to help keep a natural looking summer glow year round.
And 5 years later, I think I have finally found my favorites.
Here's my criteria for a good self tanner:
1. DOES NOT SMELL
I cannot stand the smell of self-tanners, and finding ones that don't smell is not easy.
2. Goes on easily
I don't really like to fuss with mits and sprays, just something that's easy to lather on like lotion or spreads easily like a mousse.
3. Shows color within hours
I don't want to waste time with a one-week-to-tan type tanner. One because I'm impatient, and two, because I'm not consistent (I don't want to have to remember to add an extra step to my getting-ready routine for multiple days in a row). I'd rather notice that my legs need some color and toss on some lotion once or twice a week to keep the color.
4. Blends well
Putting on tanning lotion should be just as quick as regular lotion in my book. If I have to take time making sure that I have evenly covered every single spot and not overdone it around the elbow, knees, ankles, etc., that tanning lotion is not for me. I want something that covers easily without showing big brown stains in certain places.
5. Lasts for at least a few days
Again, I'm not interested in adding time to my daily routine just so I can have some color. Using a tanner 1-2 times per week is the maximum amount of time I'm okay with spending on an extra getting-ready step.
SO, today I am going to share with you my top three favorite tanners with you.
All three of these can be used on the face as well, but recently I have been using the Kate Sommerville pads that I mentioned in this post for my face. If you don't want to fuss with separate face pads, you can definitely try these on your face as well and save some money.
Even though is says "3 Days to Glow," a good color shows up within a couple of hours. If you remember to use it three days in a row, you'll have a nice looking natural tan by the end of day three, but using it for just one day is good enough.
This one goes on like lotion and has the subtlest tanning lotion smell. For the price ($9.99), it is a great tanner! It also comes in shade fair to medium.
I bought this tanner at Sally's Beauty for $12.99 after reading about it online. Here's what I like about it: the mousse application goes on much faster than lotions or sprays, it actually smells good (no tanning smell that I could notice), and the color shows up almost immediately. The downside to such quick color and easy application is that you definitely have to be more careful around your ankles, knees, elbows, etc. and should either wash your hands in between sections or wear applicator gloves.
Hands down, this tanner is my absolute favorite! It is clean-smelling, super easy to apply, covers easily (3-4 pumps easily covers one leg), shows a natural tan within hours, and does not stain. Unlike the Tanwise mousse, this R+F mousse is white (the Tanwise mousse is dark brown), so you don't feel like your rushing to spread it before it stains your hands, even though it does go on easily on its own. I also like using this on my face because of the clean smell and easy application. About one pump covers my face, neck and chest. This stuff is seriously the BEST!