Updated: Nov 13, 2019

Living in Miami, I was never into sunless tanning…until I got older and life happened. Now it's not so easy to just go out for an hour and get some color. Luckily, they’ve invented sunless tanners, which I was pretty skeptical about at first. I always thought that they would give you an orange tint, but we're in 2019 and those things don’t happen anymore, so I’m here to talk about some tips and tricks I’ve learned throughout the years.

Shot by Cody McGibbon for Kai Lani Swimwear

- For starters there are two types of self tanners. Gradual self tanners and instant self tanners. Let's break it down: Gradual tanners work daily (or the more its applied). It's a lotion that gradually builds color on your skin. I find this is one of the most natural options. This option is also less likely to stain clothes, sheets, etc. If you’re scared of streaks and a noticeable fake tan, go with the gradual tanner. On the other hand, instant self tanners provide a tan in a few hours – some in as little as just 1 hour. Its less work than a gradual tanner since it's usually only applied once a week. The downside is if you mess up, or stain yourself with water, it will stay on your skin for a few days. There are also more chances of creating harsh lines around your ankles/wrists. Conclusion: If you need a tan pronto, go with the instant self tanner.

- This is the gradual tanner I use - color is medium/dark. I’ve tried lots and this has been my favorite so far. No funky smell and I feel comfortable in my clothes wearing it all day. Sometimes I even wear it for shoots and I’ve never stained any of the client’s outfits I’ve worn on set. I find this leaves you with the most natural color, and it also hydrates your skin the more you use it.

- This is the instant self tanner I use. I like this one because it works in an hour so I can just walk around in my home with no clothes on getting things done, and then I’m tan! There are other options that provide results in 3-6 hours, but instant self tanners are more likely to stain your clothes and I’m not about that.

- Don’t use the same self tanner for your body and your face. The skin on your face is a lot more sensitive than the skin on your body. So buy a separate self tanner for your face. This is one my favorites.

- Use a mirror (duh) – This may sound stupid, but just make sure you cover all of your body. I once confidently put on a sunless tanner before a shoot, and I didn’t check my back in the mirror before completing – rookie move. The next morning I woke up with a weird streak across my right upper back. Luckily, I was shooting winter clothes, so no one noticed.

- Wash your hands when you’re done. Do this carefully! One time I rubbed my thigh against the wet bathroom sink and made a weird mark on my leg. This also happened the day before a shoot, and people noticed. Thankfully there’s photoshop.

- After you wash your hands, use regular lotion and rub around your ankles and wrists. You’ll only need a dime sized amount; and just blend the areas so they look more natural. I never put self tanner on my feet, but I rub the regular lotion in with the self tanner that’s already around my ankles, and it gives it me a gradual tan down to my toes. Wash your hands again after this.

- Exfoliate the day before you tan. If I haven’t self tanned in a while, I’ll shave/exfoliate the day before so the next morning I’m ready to go. I usually like to tan in the mornings because the tanner I use doesn’t really smell, and I hate feeling sticky at night.

- Whenever I apply my gradual self tanners I always use my hands. Your hands are naturally warm so they help spread the lotion around evenly. Also, you can really gage the amount of tanner you are using. On the other hand, when I apply my instant self tanner, I use this mitt.

- Start applying self tanner 1-2 weeks before your event. If you’re new to self tanners, I would start 2-3 weeks before your special occasion to make sure your skin works well with it. You also want the most natural look, so starting earlier will help you achieve that. Make sure you are not tanning every day though. Spread it out. For example, let’s say you have something special on a Saturday and want to look extra glow-y. I suggest applying on Sunday (week before), again on Tuesday, and a light layer on Thursday. That way your skin looks hydrated and has a natural glow. If you want to go darker, add one more layer on Thursday.

I hope all of these tips help you achieve your most natural looking tan yet! If you guys have any other tips + tricks I didn’t mention, or you swear by another sunless tanner, help a girl out and leave a comment.

Now glow on with yo bad self.