Days are getting longer and shorts are getting shorter. Y’all I am about as white as OPI’s Alpine Snow and my struggles with self-tanning have been too real. We’re talking Oompa Loompa impersonation kinda real. Having had a few years of practice and plenty of trial and error, I am pretty confident in my current routine and I’m gonna break it all down for ya.

Shaving & Exfoliating

Shaving and exfoliating is the crucial first step when it comes to self-tanning. I will tell you right now that I take the most time and put the most effort into this step. I might be a bit obsessive (I exfoliate twice) but if you don’t have a smooth canvas you’re going to end up with splotches and uneven color.

First I start off by exfoliating with a sugar scrub and a loofa. My favorite scrub is Tree Hut’s Shea Sugar Scrub in Morrocan Rose, I’ve tried a lot of more expensive scrubs but this one is better than a lot of the luxury brands, it’s also a lot cheaper, yay! After I’ve given my legs a good scrub I shave. I use the EOS Ultra-Moisturizing Shave Cream but I rotate between using a shave cream and a conditioner, for the razor I have always loved the Venus Embrace and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Once I shave once, I exfoliate again. I know it might be a bit much but I like to go over it once more just to make sure I have the smoothest surface possible. This also gives me a chance to make sure I didn’t miss any pesky strips of hair.

Obviously, I only shave my legs, but I exfoliate every surface before I apply self-tanner. I’m sure my dark haired readers will understand this but my armpits have always been an area of embarrassment for me, especially when it comes to tank top season. So to deal with this I’ve turned to waxing and epilators. Currently, I’m using the Emjoi Epi Slim+ e18 and I’ve been loving it. Epilators are often painful and I’ve even had issues with pinching of the skin but I’ve had no such problems with this one and it’s definitely helped with the issue of dark underarm hair. It’s super small and really easy to handle unlike some others I’ve used and I’ve found myself throwing it in my purse for any on the go touch ups as well.

Tanning & Moisturizing

Now that the prepping is done and out of the way, it’s time to move to the fun stuff. After I towel off I apply the TINIEST bit of moisturizer to my knees and my ankles. We are talking a tiny tiny amount. These areas tend to absorb a bit more color and get patchy so by putting some moisturizer on first I find that it provides a bit of a barrier and the patchiness is minimized. Now it’s time for color. I am currently using Tanwise Dark Bronzing Mousse as I wait to receive more of my favorite, Loving Tan Express. Tanwise is a great drugstore alternative and if you’re on a budget I highly recommend giving it a try.

I apply the mousse right to a mitt, currently, I’m using one from Vita Liberata but I don’t typically have a  preference. And then it’s time to start working in the mousse. Both Tanwise and Loving Tan have a color guide which is a total lifesaver and I definitely recommend using a product with one especially if you’re new to self-tanning.

After I’ve applied the color I wait about 20-30 minutes before I put on some loose fitting clothes that I don’t care about ruining. When I use Loving Tan I only have to wait two hours before I can rinse off but when I’m using Tanwise I leave the color on overnight.

Once it’s time to rinse off I hop in the shower and make sure all the excess color is gone and go over problem areas (elbow, knees, ankles) with a loofa just to help even out the color.


Streaking and uneven fading is oftentimes a huge cause for concern but there are ways to mitigate this problem. First off exfoliate! I know it seems counterintuitive but by exfoliating it helps to make sure that everything fades evenly. I also like to use a self-tanning lotion like Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer after I shower to just to help extend the life of my tan a bit.

Well, there you have it! Everything I do to prep, apply and maintain my tan. If you have anymore questions let me know!

What are your favorite self tanning products? Anything I need to try?


Thank you to Lipton Publicity for providing the Emjoi Epislim+ 18e for review


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  • Love reading this post! You always look amazing and your self tan looks flawless!

    Lee Anne


      You are too sweet!! Thank you!!

  • Adriana

    I love this! Self tanning is the best haha nothing like a (fake 😉 natural glow!


      It’s definitely the way to go!! I wish more people would do it!

  • Candice Schenk

    I love self tanners but I always get streaks. Thank you for the tips. I’ll try them and hopefully do a bit better next time!


      Absolutely! Let me know how it works out!

  • Riva Treasure

    I seriously always forget to exfoliate first! I love Jergens too!


      I hate it!!! But it’s so necessary!! I just love how easy Jergens is….

  • Thanks for this! Going on a cruise in June and I don’t want to ruin all the pictures with the glare off my mega pale skin so I’ve been thinking I need to get into some kind of self tanning routine soon.


      I’m right there with ya girly! I look like Casper’s cousin! Start trying products now so you can find your perfect shade!

  • Jessica Devlin

    i love a good self tanning routine. i’m currently so pale that i’m almost translucent lol


      Right there with ya girl. But now that the shorts and tank tops are coming out I have to get back in the swing of things

  • I am so not disciplined with this. Guess you just need to get in the habit 🙂


      it definitely took me some time! Now it’s just part of my weekly routine!

  • I’m using LovingTan for the first time today! Thank you for all of the tips. Longtime Jergens gal over here! 😉


      Good luck girl!!! You’ll love it!

  • Ellie Chan

    Oh I needed to read this! I’ve never had any luck with self-tanner before but I’m pale as heck and need a tan this year lol. Great tips!



      I’m right there with you!! I rely on self tanner for that faux glow, it takes some practice but once you get the hang of it you’re good as gold!