Call me crazy, but I am so much happier when I am tan. Maybe it's because it reminds me of sunshine and warmer weather--especially during the winter months, or maybe it's that it makes me feel just slightly thinner. Either way, I love a good sunless tan. But the key to a sunless tan is making it look as natural as possible. Today, I'm sharing some tips to help you achieve the most natural-looking sunless tan! I can't have ya walking around all streaky and orange, now can I?!

Tips for a Natural-Looking Sunless Tan //

One // Exfoliate your skin & shave

This is so super important. Make sure you shower to remove any excess body oils, lotions, and yes, dead skin cells. You'll want to use some sort of body scrub or wash cloth to exfoliate your skin to remove any dry areas that won't allow the tanner to stick. Shaving will also allow your skin to be as smooth as possible and the product won't have any hair to stick to and cause streaks.

Two // Apply your tan at night

Applying your tan at night is key. Sunless tanners usually take about eight hours to fully develop and you want it to develop without being messed with. When you apply your tan at night, just wear loose fitting jammies to bed and you're good to go!

Three // Apply thin layers

In order to reduce streaking and any patchiness, apply your sunless tanner in thin, even layers. I will usually start with my arms, work my way to my chest & decollate, stomach, back, and then my legs & feet. I save my hands for last because I want to be able to wash them before applying the tanner to my hands. The last thing you want are brown palms!

*Pro Tip: After squeezing the sunless tanner on the mitt, bend the mitt onto itself to disperse it so it's not so concentrated. 

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Related Reading: Sunless Tanning Essentials
*In the post above, you can see before & after shots of my sunless tan!

Four // Keep a paper towel handy

Going hand-in-hand with the last tip, you'll want to keep a paper towel on hand so that you can wipe your hands after washing them. You'll also want a paper towel handy so that you can wipe the palms of your hands if you end up getting any sunless tanner on your palms once you've applied your tanner on your hands & fingers.

Five // Bend your knuckles & toes

By bending your knuckles & toes, you're able to get the sunless tanner into every crease possible. You'll want to make sure you get into the middle and side of every finger and toe as well to create a more natural-looking tan. You don't want to give your faux tan away by bending your knuckles and revealing white creasing. Been there, done that, and it's not cute. haha!

Pro Tip: Use a synthetic brush like this one to blend your hands and feet!

Six // Use a cotton swab to remove excess product from your nail beds

Without fail, you will get a little sunless tanner stuck in your nail beds and along your cuticles. All you have to do is take a cotton swab and swipe it along your nail beds to remove it. Just make sure you do this step immediately after you've finished applying your tanner.

Seven // Shower the next morning

For me, this step is super crucial in making sunless tanner much more natural-looking. Sometimes as sunless tanners develop, they can be slightly darker if you applied one too many layers in a certain area. Some will also develop a sunless tanner smell--the one I have in this post doesn't have a strong sunless tanner smell, but others do. But, not to worry! All of this can be fixed by a quick shower to remove the sticky (sometimes uneven) top layer of your tan and to also get rid of that sunless tanner smell.

If you don't have time to shower the next morning, apply a generous amount of your favorite lotion all over your body and it will help to even everything out, and you'll smell good, too. I had to do this the other day before a fashion event and it worked perfectly! I used this body cream.

I'll link below the sunless tanning products that I personally used and have used for more than two years! I truly love them and I just know you will, too!

The links below are affiliate links. This just means that I may get a tiny commission, at no cost to you should you choose to purchase something. Thanks for supporting ACF!

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Tarte Brazilliance PLUS Sunless Tanner
IT Cosmetics Buffing Brush (I have this one!)
IT Cosmetics Buffing Brush (Less expensive option)

Do you use a sunless tanner year round like I do?! What's your favorite to use? Do you have any other tips that I didn't mention?


  1. I am so happy you did a post on this! I am going to need to reference back to this!

  2. wow i def love my makeup to be a bit more natural so this is perfect!

  3. Thank you for the tips!! I tried a self-tanner lotion like this, and it always ended up super uneven. I'll have to bookmark this page. :)

  4. I am currently using St. Tropez, but I will have to try this out!

  5. I'm the WORST at self tanner...maybe this will finally help me get it right - ha!

  6. Love these tips! I use a St Tropez mousse all the time except in the summer! I need to try this one out!

  7. Exfoliating before applying self tanners is the best tip ever! I need to try this self tanner.

  8. Great tips! I've been researching self tanners for my perpetually pale skin and this is one I need to try!


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