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Secrets to a Great Sunless Tan

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Usually by this time in summer, I’ve spent a week at the beach and have a beautiful base tan, that with some time spent at a pool party or two, will last me until fall comes around. Since we’ve moved to Texas, there’s no beach trip this year, so I’m relying heavily on my sunless tanning lotion.

Every year, I start out the summer season with a self tanner until our beach trip towards the end June. I love the look of a tan, but I’m not really one to take the time to lay out in the sun and I don’t like the look or smell of a tanning bed. To me, it seems that my tan from a tanning bed is more of a gray brown color, which is not very flattering or natural looking. Since I tend to burn easily, I also find that a sunless tanner helps me to get a good base tan and not just burn.

Over the years I have used a few brands but have settled on Banana Boat’s Summer Color Self Tanning Lotion. This has been my go to for several years now and I love it. It is not nearly as expensive as other brands and gives me a very naturally looking tan. People have actually complimented me on my tan, thinking it was from the sun.

The secret to a beautiful tan with a sunless tanning lotion is when and how you apply it. It is best to apply it after you’ve showered and shaved your legs. This way the moisture in your skin will be more even. Since this is a lotion, it will soak into your skin more in dry areas, which will cause your tan to be uneven. Areas to look out for are around your knees, elbows, etc.

If you use the Banana Boat brand you will see that the lotion is very dark, almost scary dark, but don’t worry, it doesn’t go on as dark as it is out of the tube. This is actually very helpful because it not only helps you to apply it more evenly, but it also gives you a little color right away so you can apply it in the morning and be ready for the day.

When applying it, you will want to not stop at the ankle, but lightly go over your ankles and the top of your feet to give them some color too. Since my knees tend to be a little dryer, I generally will run my forearm over my knees to make sure it is applied a little lighter there. You will also want to do this on any areas that have fine lines or creases, as lotions tend to settle in those areas. Keep in mind that the more applied, the darker the tan will be so an even application is key.

Start with a thin layer to see how your skin responds to the tanner. You can always add another thin layer the next day if you do not have the desired look. Often times I will add a thin layer to spruce up my tan when it’s starting to fade. I've had to do that a lot this year since I haven’t really had any opportunities to be in the sun.

Wash the lotion off of your hands and forearms right away with soap and water, making sure to get in between your fingers as well. Having a dark tan on the palms of your hands will be a dead give away to using a sunless tanner.

Self tanners have come a long way over the years and are a great way to have a beautiful tan without the time spent or harmful rays of the sun. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below or email them to me at


Have a great summer!


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