I often find myself spending a lot of time in the cosmetics department wondering, “What is the best tanning lotion?” Like many other women out there, I can thank my heritage for a pale white hide, capable of blinding innocent bystanders on a sunny day. Due to my tendency to burn easily, and freckle abundantly, I find myself reaching for the artificial tanning lotions quite often.
But hold on, is it worth risking the ever dreaded tiger stripes, right before your special occasion?
Of course not! That’s why I have personally tried all of these different tanning options for you. From the best tanning lotion on the market, to in-salon spray tans, you can feel confident in the outcome of the best faux tan ever—even if you’re as pale as I am!
One month before the event
If you are starting to shop for options a month out, there are a couple different avenues you can take. If you’re looking to save money, the best tanning lotion to use, is one with spf and then just spend some time outdoors.
Neutrogena is a pretty reliable brand, I’ve never burned while wearing anything SPF 30 or higher, and most have a couple different DHA densities, depending on your starting skin tone and their products are pretty inexpensive. Besides, it’s healthy to spend time outdoors, and the sun is free.
Booking an Appointment for a Spray Tan:
If it’s the middle of January, you live in a place that is frequented by cloudy weather, or you just don’t think even the best tanning lotion will cut it, You should consider a professional spray tan. In this case, make sure you do your homework. You can search the best tanning salons in your area online, but the best way to feel confident in your decision is to ask a friend for a recommendation.
The biggest reservation I ever had about a spray tan is the worry about turning orange. I’m not going to say it isn’t a possibility, but if you go to an experienced professional, who has their own tricks and years of experience, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
I would recommend giving your spray tan a trial run, if you are hesitant. Go a month before your event, that way, if you hate it, it will be gone in 4-8 days (shorter if you exfoliate, longer if you moisturize.
A home spray tan could also be an option. For home spray tanning, it helps a lot if you (or a helpful friend) have had a few pro spray tans before, so that you have some idea of what you’re doing and how it can go wrong.
The Best Tanning Lotion for Pale Skin:
Build up a tan with a gradual tanning lotion:
When it comes to the best tanning lotions, I’ve often found that you get what you pay for. The lower end products tend to be a little more artificial looking, in my opinion, and they definitely have a tendency to streak more. That being said, apply with caution, and an application mitt and you can get decent results. Be cautious around the soles of feet, elbows and kneecaps.
I have two definite favorites, St. Tropez Self Tan Express Advanced Bronzing Mousse, is the first one. It’s pricey, but the color is unbeatable. And the application is very easy and doesn’t use very much product.
The second best tanning lotion I’ve used Bath & Body Works True Blue Spa – Glow and Steady, which retails for about thirty to forty dollars. (Or rather, it used to! Looks like this has unfortunately been discontinued, but there are still a few tubes left on Amazon. Click the link to check the latest prices—prices have risen since we first wrote this.)
A few things to note about these products, they take time to work. Thirty minutes or so for the product to dry, then a couple hours for the product to react with your skin, and you’ll look like you just came back from a tropical vacation.
Unfortunately, even with the best tanning lotion, there are a few downsides to bronzing at home, It can take practice to get it perfectly even and over time, after overlapping applications, you will eventually start to streak. This is why it is important to exfoliate your skin and moisturize frequently.
I Need to be Tan Today, and Only for Today:
Some find that the best tanning lotion is one that only lasts one day. They go on quickly, color your skin evenly, moisturize, and smooth out the appearance of imperfections. Being as fair as I am, I also battle keratosis, varicose veins, and cellulite, so it’s nice to have something I can quickly spread on if I step out in a short skirt, sleeveless top, or shorts. Not to mention, being tan makes you look thinner! These temporary tanning lotions are more like makeup, really, and I’m really alright with that. Not surprisingly.
St. Tropez – One Night Only is a definite favorite. It leaves my skin silky soft and produces the most beautiful and predictable color.
Sally Hansen’s Airbrush Legs is a crowd favorite, not quite as conditioning, but much cheaper. You’ll find this one is a great option to keep around for bridesmaids at a wedding. It’s virtually universal coloring provides the look of hosiery, without the discomfort.
The Reason I Haven’t Mentioned the Tanning Bed:
Exposing your skin to UVA/UVB radiation from the sun or tanning beds is dangerous. The World Health Organization has determined that the radiation from tanning beds does cause skin cancer. It’s not worth the cost, you are much better off skipping the chance and using a sunless tanning option.
Knowing what we do about radiation, though, has led to companies creating some of the best tanning lotions ever. Without the exposure, your skin will look healthy, even, and glowing!
St. Tropez One Night Only:
Temporary Bronzing lotion
This product gives amazing realistic color. It is build-able for a darker look, smoothes and moisturizes skin.
I’ve never experienced it rubbing off on clothing and it washes of easily after you shower.