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how to sunless tan like a boss

Posted by Melissa Bailey on

My family is British. My grandparents moved to Canada from England, so while I didn't get an adorable British accent, I did get that highly sought after British skin of theirs. Pale and dry #blessed. My skin is basically translucent and I blend in with the snow from the months of November to February. Needless to say, self tanner is the best thing since sliced bread in my eyes and I like to think I've gotten a pretty good handle on how to apply it.

Since this time of year most of us could use a little bronze boost, I'm sharing my tips on all things self tanning with you. Read on to find out what you need for that golden glow and how to apply it for a flawless finish. 


what you'll need:

1. self-tanner (obviously)

Choose your brand wisely. Different brands work on different skin types and tones. It'll take some trial and error but to point you in the right direction my goes to are: The Base and St. Tropez.

Choose your shade. Most lines offer a light, medium and dark range. You can select a shade depending on your skin tone and how comfortable you are with using self-tanner. 

Instant tan vs. gradual tan vs. bronzing vs where do I start and can I give up already?! Facing these options can be like facing Forever21 on Boxing Day (my actual nightmare) and I could write a post on all the different options and what's good for when. But for now, I buy this one: St Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Mousse or The Base Instant Tan Mousse. Both of these give dark, fast results with a bronzing agent so you can see where you applied your tan. For beginners I always suggest using one with a bronzer so you know where you've applied already.

2. applicator mitt

Always always always use gloves and a mitt. This helps give an even tan and stops the tanner from staining the palms of your hands. Stained palms are a dead giveaway you've been sunless tanning. I use disposable gloves from the drug store and The Base Application Mitt.

3. dry brush

You'll need a pair of exfoliating gloves or a dry brush. Whatever you do, avoid using an oil based body scrub. They will leave residue on your skin and make your tan application uneven. You can get exfoliating gloves or a dry brush at the drug store. 

4. dark, loose clothes

Your tan will rub off slightly onto clothing so it's ideal to wear dark, baggy clothing that won't strip your tan and you can throw in the wash right after. Your tan may transfer to your bed sheets as well so it's good to was them after or, use a sheet protector. Yes, that's actually a thing. Check out Tanzee.


    the application process:

    1. exfoliate

    Exfoliate before you shower and avoid using soap or oil based products in the shower. Remove all makeup as well. 

    2. shave

    Silky smooth skin makes for the best tan. 

    3. dry off

    Pat skin dry, don't rub. 

    4. apply

    Use your gloves and mitt to apply tanner all over. I usually start from the bottom and work my way up. Apply 1-2 coats depending on how dark you want it. Just remember, a lot of it will wash off in the morning and you'll be about a shade lighter after. For your back, either have someone apply tanner to your back or use an back applicator (yes these do exist). You can buy one here. Take gloves and mitt off and apply to face, rinse off hands then apply tanner to back of hands. Use a towel to wipe around knuckles to avoid product sitting in the lines. 

    5. air dry

    Allow tan to air dry for 15 minutes. 

    6. sweats on

    Put on dark, loose clothing. Avoid showering and sweating for at least 8 hours.

    8. wash off

    Rinse to remove the top layer. You'll see some of it wash down the drain, don't worry that's just the top bronzing layer. 

    7. apply oil

    After the shower, apply moisturizer or an oil. It's so important to keep skin hydrated so that your tan lasts. Tip: our oil mask can double as a body oil. 

    8. show off

    Show the world your new golden goddess glow and hope they can handle it.

    9. keep the glow going

    Exfoliate after 4 days so your tan fades evenly. 


    melissa bailey

    Founder + Creative Director at Coast



    Image source: Boracay Skin




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