Self Tanning Roundup


I’ve been seeing a huge rise in self tanners, bronzers, and “glow” oils (also called illuminators, luminizers, and all sorts of random names) these days! Not only do people seem to be buying them more and more, but brands seem to be pumping out new formulas all the time. On one hand, this is an amazing thing! I love that people are getting into self tanning as an alternative to sitting out in the sun without spf or my biggest nightmare – the tanning bed! 🙈 It’s so dangerous and bad for the skin. So I’m not complaining about this new self tanning trend… but on the other hand, it does bring up an important question. What’s the right method for YOU? Which products should you invest in, and which ones should you stay away from?

For beginners like myself, it’s easy to be scared off by semi-permanent self tanners. I call them semi-permanent because the effects ARE temporary (they only last 3-4 days usually) but if you misapply them or get streaky, it could be the longest, most hellish 3-4 days of your life. I’ve definitely had my fair share of “orange streak face”, as I lovingly call it. Honestly I was never interested in self tanning before I started blogging, and mainly got into for my followers’ sake. I'm still not a natural self tanner, although I'm trying to be. My pale face doesn't love looking like an anemic schoolboy, but it deals. 😂 Let's just say I'd rather be pale than look like a bruised orange. It's an ongoing fear of mine!

That said, my viewpoint has changed over time, as I’ve discovered more and more “natural looking” self tanners, and easier and easier applications. I'm all for getting that natural glow, especially when it comes to non streaky formulas that are basically foolproof! If you're a beginner, I think temporary color is the way to go, at least to start with. Which brings me to my first brand...




Bali Body is an Aussie brand that’s centered all around sun-care. They sell tanning oils, sunscreens, bronzing lotions, etc. The price point is very reasonable considering their ingredient lists. I've been testing out their bronzing lotion the past few weeks so I could weave it into this blog post. It reminds me a of other bronzing lotions I've tried like Baja Bae - equally streaky but thankfully with better ingredients! The cap is super fine point, so it’s easy to get exactly the amount of color you want, and no more. The formula isn’t greasy at all, so it could work for both oily and dry skin types. If you’re dry like me, you’ll want to mix it with a lotion. It’s the perfect way to moisturize the skin while achieving a natural looking color.

The downside to this bronzing lotion is that it does go on very patchy if you don't exfoliate first.  Because it contains dimethicone, it also pills if you don't exfoliate properly. Pilling & patchiness is actually quite typical of self tanners as well, really the number rule is ALWAYS exfoliate first. I don't usually bother when it comes to bronzing lotions, but this one from Bali Body does require a lot of prep work. That said, I like that the coloring agent is all natural, and this contains both humectants (aloe & glycerin) for dehydration as well as moisturizers (shea, jojoba oil, argan oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, etc). So even though my bronzing results with Bali Body are similar to any other bronzing lotion on the market, I do feel like the ingredients make it stand out a little bit more. Also the packaging is gorgeous. I just wish that it didn't require so much prep work. For that amount of work, I'd rather just go with a self tanner like Tan Luxe's.

Once you've thoroughly exfoliated (I'll get into my fav exfoliants later), the application process is a bit easier. Even at full strength this bronzing lotion isn't very pigmented. You'd definitely have to layer it on a few times if you wanted to get more than 1 shade darker than your natural skin tone. There’s no sparkle, no glitter, no glow whatsoever to the bronzing lotion which I SO appreciate! So many formulas are sparkly these days, and it can make the bronzing effect look a bit unnatural IMO. Bali Body’s bronzing lotion looks very subtle, I hardly notice it when it's on. It's like a slightly more yellow version of my natural skin tone, perfect for beginners! This product lasts about 4-6 hours but washes off super easily so it’s ideal for a short term event. I also need to note that I did get quite streaky when it washed off, which means I wouldn't recommend this product if you live in a rainy area. It might run down your leg a little. If you live in a sunny climate however, this is perfect for that!

The bb cream was a surprise favorite, and it's Bali Body's best product, hands down! It is a great way to bring a little color to your face, even out any pigmentation, and give your face a natural glow. I love pairing it with a self tanner, actually. At first I expressed concern that their bb cream would actually be too dark for me! But the formula is pretty genius, it seems to shape shift to your natural color! I’m not kidding, it was so strange. When I pumped some of the bottle out on my hand, it looked way too dark. But by the time I worked it into my face, it had blended in beautifully. There were no orange patches, no streakiness, no settling into fine lines & wrinkles, and very little mismatching colors. If I mix it with a facial oil it works even better! The bb cream blended beautifully into my neck so it didn’t actually look like I was wearing anything at all. Except for the fact that my skin looked WAY too good (suspicious, I know, haha), it really went on invisible. I double checked in sunlight because I was convinced it was too good to be true, but this stuff actually works. Even in harsh natural lighting, you couldn’t tell I was wearing anything.

So if you're going to go with any temporary tan\bronzing type product, I would suggest the BB cream wholeheartedly! It's also a great thing to pair with your self tanner, to touch up any "patchy" spots, and give your skin a more even complexion. As a side note, I like the lip balm too. It's very moisturizing & non-sticky. The ingredient list is gorgeous, minus the hydrogenated soybean oil and alcohol. Honestly I feel like this is a product where you get what you pay for. It's a big expensive for a lip balm but the ingredients, texture, packaging & efficacy more than make up for it.

I've already reviewed their lotion in my recent "what's in my bag" post so I won't do it again here. All in all, I think Bali Body is a solution for those who don’t want to accidentally get that “orange face” look. You all remember the post I wrote about tan luxe? Well that experience would never happen with Bali Body. Because their products are more subtle, you don't have to worry about overdoing it. In that way, they are perfect for beginners! On the other hand, tanning experts will probably need something stronger than a wash-off product, which I'll get to later on in this post. Bali Body's products are a quick and easy way to get some color in before a wedding, event, vacation, etc. The bronzing lotion is $26 for 5 oz, the luxe moisturizing lotion is $25 for 5 oz, the lip balm is $20 for 0.5 oz, & the BB cream is $30 for 1.2 oz. 




The next brand I want to talk about is Sol de Janeiro! One of my all time favs. They only recently launched their two glow oils, which is the first “bronzer\tanner” type product in their line. My favorite is copacabana… because it actually gives me a little color, almost like a body "bronzer". The ipanema color is extremely light and doesn't give me any color, it acts more like a body "highlighter". Basically these two glow oils are similar to Herbivore's rose quartz oil, just less pink. They smell like caramel goodness, they moisturize dry skin deeply, and they leave your skin looking like you just applied highlighter all over it. My favorite way to use these is actually at night. There’s something about artificial lighting that really brings out the “glow” in these glow oils.

I’ve tried doing swatches for you guys in daylight, but it’s really really hard to show via a camera! The sparkles are extremely subtle and can only be perceived in person. In that way this is also a good option for beginners, and people who don’t want an intense look. Unlike self tanners, however, these definitely don’t look like a “natural” tan so you wouldn’t be fooling anyone. I actually prefer to use a bronzing lotion or tanner FIRST and then follow up with Sol de Janeiro’s glow oils SECOND for some sparkle & shimmer. I use it sparingly, almost like a bronzer\highlighter with a bronzing lotion as my base.

So while I definitely would recommend Sol de Janeiro’s glow oils, I do not think they’re a good investment for people who want a natural looking temporary tan. For that, I would go with another company. But the glow oils are perfect for those who want something “extra”, something a bit more glowy and pretty. I think they really bring a special dimension to the self tanning game. Imagine what highlighting & contouring does for you face? Well apply that same principle to your body, and you'll understand why I'm so passionate about these glow oils! They add some much dimension to a tan, and can help cover up any patchiness, streaks, or trouble spots! 10/10




Next up is Tan Luxe! I’ve mentioned this brand to you guys numerous times, but I finally found a product of theirs that DOESN’T leave me streaky and orange. My friend Devan had recommended The Water to me numerous times and I finally got on board and purchased it. It's $50 for a little over 6 oz, so it's definitely a bit pricey for every day use if you're unemployed like I am. On the plus side, it’s WAY easier to apply than their face and body drops, it doesn’t leave you streaky, and it fades really well. Honestly, this was totally worth purchasing, just for the ease of application!

I wish it had a color guide but as long as you don’t over-spray, you’re golden. It’s very hard to mess up! Which is more than I can say for their face and body drops. I’m STILL amazed these products have so many positive reviews, to be honest. Even though I finally got the hang of them, they’re still some of the most difficult, time intensive products I’ve ever dealt with. I wish they had come up with an easier system, but that’s just my personal preference. I don't want to have to spend days working on my self tan, it's annoying enough to spend hours on it haha. To read about my experience CLICK HERE.


Lastly, I want to recommend the bioderma photoderm, also recommended by my friend Devan. I’ve only used this product once so far but it’s amazing for beginners! Even easier to use than Tan Luxe’s The Water, and much lighter in application. You won’t see a crazy tan from this product, more like a subtle golden glow. I know a few people use it to prolong their tan, instead of using AS a self tanner. It really depends on your natural coloring, IMO. I’m super pale so even though this is a very light product, it definitely shows up on me. I have yet to experience ANY streaky-ness or patchiness. It’s also one of the more affordable options you can get on amazon. So I highly highly recommend starting here if you’re interested in the self-tanning world!




When it comes to bronzing lotions, you usually just need a good exfoliant. Unlike self tanners, you don't need a mitt to apply them! Simply apply the exfoliant & wash off. Next, apply the bronzing lotion with your fingers and you're done. So if you're in the market for Bali Body products or Sol de Janeiro, all you need is a good exfoliant. If, however, you wanted to venture into the world of self tanning, be sure to read on!

First things first, exfoliation! Exfoliation is key to getting an even tan. My current favorite is Herbivore's Coco Rose (you can get it 20% off your entire order by using this link: CLICK HERE) but I also love Volition Beauty's Turmeric Brightening Polish and Frank Bod's Original Coffee Scrub. All are great options for exfoliating the body, so go with whatever works for your budget. I think Coco Rose is best for normal to combo skin, Frank Bod is best for oily skin, and Volition is best for dry skin. This assessment is based on how moisturizing the exfoliation base is, Volitions has humectants like glycerin to soften the skin, whereas Frank Bod is straight up coffee particles. ;) 

My friend Christina wrote a fantastic blog post all about Faux Tanning, which included some great tools! I haven’t tested these out myself but I trust her judgement implicitly. She recommends the Loving Tan deluxe mitt for application, because it's made of velour fabric and will never smear or streak a product. I’m planning on buying it asap! She also recommended the Loving Tan easy to reach applicator to help apply the self tanner on your back.


In conclusion, there are a lot of products out there when it comes to self tanning, bronzing, temporary tans, etc. Brands are coming out with new products every day! It can be hard to navigate, so I wanted to compile some of my favorites into one post. However, because I'm still a beginner, I'll be sure to do another self-tanning post in the near future, once I've had a chance to test more products out. Let me know if you have any tips, suggestions, questions, or favorites you'd like to share! I'll link the products I mentioned below if you're interested in checking them out...