Ah yes, springtime. When all of us midwesterners emerge from our winter caves only to realize that we are pale and pasty ghosts 👻 By now, I’m sure most of us are well aware of the dangers of tanning beds and excessive UV exposure. So the next best option is spray tanning or using self-tanners at home! While those are definitely better options, there are still some harmful ingredients that are used in conventional tanning products. So today I can’t wait to share a safe and natural option with you. And yes, it works! (spoiler alert)
How Do Self Tanners Even Work?
Most tanning products use dihydroxyacetone (DHA) ☀️ which kind of sounds scary, but it’s actually a carbohydrate derived from sugar beet or sugar cane. It temporarily darkens the skin via the “Maillard reaction” which is what happens when amino acids react with sugars. DHA interacts with the outermost layer of the epidermis (stratum corneum) which are already dead cells. It’s currently the only FDA-approved ingredient for sunless tanning skin.
Related blog post: “Your Guide to Non-Toxic Mineral Sunscreen (That Works!)”
Common Ingredients to Avoid in Self Tanners
But first, you might be wondering why choosing natural self-tanning options is a good idea in the first place! Let’s take Jergens, for example, which is a popular gradual tan lotion 🧴 that contains ingredients such as:
- Artificial dyes or caramel color
- BHT is a synthetic antioxidant used as a preservative that has been linked with liver and kidney issues
- DMDM Hydantoin is an antimicrobial agent that releases formaldehyde when it breaks down
- Fragrance/parfum/perfume can contain a cocktail of over 3,000+ undisclosed ingredients
- Parabens are known endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen in the body
- Petrolatum (mineral oil) is often contaminated with carcinogens and doesn’t allow the skin to breathe but is used as a moisturizing agent
My Experience Using Beauty by Earth’s Natural Self Tanner
I tried the brand Beauty by Earth, which is a natural and non-toxic tanning lotion. They incorporate a lot of certified organic ingredients and are really clean. It’s vegan, gluten free, made in the USA, and contains no dyes. Totally #OrganicallyBeccaApproved 👍 Keep reading for an exclusive coupon code!
This lotion can be used all over your body and face, although they do make one specifically for your face which I haven’t tried yet. It’s also available as a mousse if you prefer that to a lotion.
First, I used a dry body brush on my legs to make sure they were well exfoliated and smooth. After showering, I applied the lotion to my legs. It’s a water-based lotion so it absorbs easily into skin and doesn’t leave a residue. The lotion itself is white and applies clear and invisible (it’s one universal shade). Overall, it feels lightweight and nourishing! It smells so divine, like coconut 🥥 and vanilla. I’ve definitely used self-tanners in the past that have that strong, chemical smell so this was a pleasant surprise!
I experimented with using my hand and a mitt/glove to apply the lotion. I used my hand on my left leg and the mitt on my right. I did NOT really notice a difference between the two after it set. But I prefer to use a glove just to avoid getting the lotion on my hands. If you do use your hands, just make sure to wash them right away. And make sure to apply less around joints like elbows, ankles, and knees.
You’re supposed to wait 15 minutes before you put clothes on after applying the lotion, just to let everything fully absorb. But I LOVE that this doesn’t transfer or stain clothes and sheets! Mess-free is a win in my book because I’m typically pretty apprehensive and nervous when trying sunless tanners. We’ve all had those fun self-tanning disasters 🥴
Self Tanner Results
So…did it work? 🤔 YES! I noticed some color within about six hours. There were no streaks or harsh orange spots. Amazing! The next day, I applied another layer because it was still too subtle for me. That did the trick! It’s actually recommended to apply daily for multiple days in a row (4-6), but I was satisfied after only two applications.
Related blog post: “8 Best Tinted Mineral Sunscreens & Moisturizers to Protect Your Pretty Face”
Honestly, the whole process was SO STINKIN’ EASY. I didn’t have to be too careful and it ended up looking really natural and even. Not too orange or dark at all and I didn’t experience any irritation. Woohoo!
Tips for Extending Your Fake Bake Tan
Since DHA only affects the outermost layer of your skin, self-tanners usually last 5-7 days before fading back to normal. You can always keep reapplying or follow these tips after application:
- Avoid excessively hot showers
- Don’t shave, exfoliate, or dry brush for a few days
- Moisturize daily to prevent skin from getting dry and crackly
Are you ready to get your glow on (without the sun damage)?! Overall, I really think this is an awesome option and pretty foolproof. I recommend giving it a try if you’re looking for a quick and easy at-home tan.
You can use the coupon code BECCA12 for 12% off your purchase!
You can also shop Beauty by Earth products on Amazon.
Other Organic Sunless Tanners on the Market:
- Chocolate Sun Face & Body Sunless Tanning Creams: This is another fave of mine! It’s been a while since I’ve used it, but I was always happy with the results. There are Light, Medium, and Dark creams for different skin tones but they also offer gels and mists. Plus, it smells like vanilla pudding.
- NKD SKN Natural Sunless Tanning Mousse: This is a mousse that comes in Medium or Dark, but they also have a Gradual Glow Daily Moisturizer version if you prefer a slower build. This one worked well for me but I feel like I had to be a lot more careful with the mousse because it can look streaky!
- Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Self Tanner: This is a lotion and has a lot of nourishing oils, butters, and extracts. I haven’t tried this one yet myself.
- Zuii Organic: This Australian brand has a couple of sunless tanning options such as a spray, mist, lotion, and mousse. I have only tried the Gradual Tan Face Lotion personally, and it actually didn’t really seem to work. But I have heard good things about the other products and the brand does use high-quality ingredients.
Drop any questions below in the comments, I’d love to hear from you or if you’ve tried any of these options. Or perhaps you have some other natural sunless tanners that you swear by. Thanks so much for reading my blog. You’re awesome! 💚