I never sunburn. I am that jerk friend who has a golden tan after one afternoon at the beach with no sunscreen. Before you get all bent out of shape, this is literally one of 4 genetic pros I posses. Fast metabolism? NAHHHHHHHH. Coordination? HAH. Acne? YES SIR. You get the point. Sadly my love for tanning was quickly rained on when I spent four years at my college job watching people of all ages get skin cancer removed. Reality is a bitch and I hate her. She can't sit with us. Since then I've experimented with all sorts of tanning products, from drug store finds to expensive no-groceries-this-week lotions. I've braved the worst of the worst with the orangest of hands and now I'm sharing my two favorite products.
A general rule
If you can afford it or it's a major event (like your wedding or a photoshoot or you're going on a date with Drake/Justin Timberlake/Alexander Skarsgard), I 100% recommend being airbrushed. If you're a Kardashian, you have a personal spray tanner who comes to you every 4 days and you're not even reading this article. But generally as a broke-twenty-something I don't have the cash flow for an airbrush.
For the "I know I have a *blank* coming up and I'm planning ahead"
St Tropez Self Tanning Bronzing Lotion - purchased at Sephora (see more here) - I do this on a Thursday night to get read for a busy social weekend. This bottle is life saving and so worth every penny. I have tried COUNTLESS tanning lotions and this is the only one that has never left me hiding under a sweatshirt from zebra lines.
The "application process" - and I put that in quotes because I don't even use a mirror when I put it on - is simple: shower, exfoliate, shave, hop out of the shower, towel off water, pump it out in your hands, and slap it all over your body. Don't worry about perfectly even application, just make sure you cover all areas. Sometimes when I finish I have weird dark patches but they never remain the next day. WASH YOUR HANDS. Hang out naked (avoid windows and creepy neighbors) until it dries. Put on long pants and a long sleeved t (protecting your sheets) and then crawl in bed and sleep as long as possible. Wake up in the morning and rinse (no scrubbing) the liquid off. BOOM - perfect natural looking tan. If you want to be darker or maintain the tan, repeat process as necessary. I find that even as this wears off it generally fades at the same rate so I never end up with patchy skin << which has definitely happened with other products. Not cute.
For the "oh shit my legs look like two stick ghosts and I have to walk out the door in five minutes"
Laura Mercier Body Bronzing Makeup - purchased at Neiman Marcus or Sephora (see here) - I would like to thank this product because without it, all my last-minute-out-the-door changes wouldn't have been possible. Perfect for just a little color on your extremities. Unlike other similar products the LM smells like summer in a bottle...and not in a creepy way. However, I always mix it with lotion to lessen the color effect. I go for a 50/50 mixture with my regular lotion, but depending on your skin color you could do less. My regular lotion usually masks the scent.
sidenote: Thanks to my roommate and her beauty obsessed Mom for introducing me to these two things and changing my tanning game completely
photo by me for Mimosas in the Morning