My Favorite Affordable Self Tanners + Tips

I've gotten requests for this post for quite awhile and finally got around to putting it together! I look pretty pale in most of my blog photos due to my photography style and editing, but in person I get asked about self tanner multiple times a week - no joke! I naturally have very fair skin and a history of skin cancer in my family, so while I naturally tan pretty well, now in my twenties I'm good about protecting my skin from the sun. Also since working an office job I'm honestly not out in the sun much anyways. However, I do love the look of bronzed skin, and I seriously feel like self tanner takes off 10 pounds (for me at least)! I always feel like I look much more toned, and who doesn't want that? ;)

I've tried out A LOT of self tanning products and these are my favorites so far. Only one of these products was gifted, which I'll note below, but basically I've spent a lot of my own money over the years searching for my favorite tanning products! As a disclaimer I have not tried St. Tropez or Loving Tan products yet. I really want to but they're so pricey that I just haven't gotten around to it yet! 

My ride-or-die roducts that get you really tan...

If I had to pick one absolute favorite tanning product it would be this. At around $12 a bottle it's super affordable and you can pick it up at any Sally Beauty Supply. I use these mitts to apply, which I think is essential! I find that the best time to apply is after you've dried off from an evening shower. After I apply it I finish getting ready for bed while it dries. Then first thing in the morning I like to hop in the shower for a 30 second rinse to rinse off the top layer. In my opinion this washes off any splotches or any extra product from it developing. Then just pat dry with a non-white towel and apply lotion. You'll be so bronzy and it lasts for several days! When I shower again and still have color from this I don't use a scrub or loofah and instead use a gentle wash or soap so that I'm not scrubbing off all of my color. You can then apply again to darken your color even more or you can just leave your tan alone and you should still have a good amount of color! Several friends and family members of mine use this stuff and love it! I think it's amazing, especially for the price, and it doesn't smell bad at all.

This is very similar and a close runner up to the Tanwise, and you can buy it at Ulta for about the same price at the Tanwise. I'll buy this one if I make it to an Ulta before a Sally Beauty store. I follow all of the same steps/tips as the Tanwise. I don't think it's *quite* as flawless application-wise but it's still pretty darn good!

As you can tell by the name, this is a lotion rather than a mousse so the application is kind of different, but this product will get you just as dark as the mousse and in my opinion lasts a little longer. It has a green undertone rather than an orange undertone, which sounds weird, but makes you look brown/bronze rather than orange - yay! This takes me a little bit longer to apply than the mousse does, but I use both just as frequently. I apply this with my bare hands because you really have to rub it in since it's a thicker consistency. Your hands will turn a really scary shade of brown but don't be alarmed! Just wash them immediately after with warm water and dish soap! I usually wash 2-3 times and it all comes off :) Like with the mousses, I also apply this after a nighttime shower and let it develop overnight, then do a super quick rinse in the morning. I mentioned above that this lasts a little longer than the mousse. I used this before our Nashville trip this summer but didn't re-apply at all for fear of staining the hotel's sheets or towels, but I had nice color the whole time! I did use some of the products below to help extend my color though...

Products that gradually tan and/or extend your tan...

Not to be confused with the Tanwise lotion above, this one is more of a gradual tanner. However, my main use for it is to help extend my tan when I use the tanners above! I find that using this one or the Bondi Sands one makes a big difference, especially because self tanners can really dry out your skin. This has a little bit of tint to it, which helps to gently add to your color while also moisturizing. I like the smell of this one better than the Bondi Sands one below, but I think they both work just as well!

I also use this product to extend my other tanning products and it's great for that! It also has SPF 15, which is a really nice added benefit. It has aloe vera and vitamin E, which makes it nice and moisturizing, but it definitely also has a strong coco butter smell, which took me a little bit to get used to. I would like to try some of the other Bondi Sands products! Their foam/mousse is supposed to be great as well.

Other good products to know about...

1. Tanwise Self-Tanning Face Gel
I don't use normal self tanner on my face because I have very sensitive skin, but I've used this 1-2 times a week for months and it's never caused any breakouts. I like to apply it in little spots on my face and then blend it in with a big powder or kabuki brush. It's doesn't last a super long time - not more than a day or two - but it will help your face blend with your body. I also like to use it if I'm not going to be wearing makeup because a little bit of a tan helps to mask imperfections! We're going camping and to the lake this weekend and I will be relying heavily on this stuff ;)

2. L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Towelettes
These are so handy and I like that I can get them at Walmart, Target or any drug store. They have a little bit more of an orange tone than all of the other products so I don't like to use these on their own, but what I do like them for is to extend my base tan when I'm traveling. If you have other self tanner on as a base tan, then these towelettes are great to touch up with a couple of days later in a quick, mess-free way. Unfortunately you can't really see the color go on, so you just have to keep track of where you've been and you have to be pretty thorough. And definitely wash your hands right after!


I hope you found this post helpful! I would LOVE to know your favorite self-tanning products and tips! I'm always looking for new products to try out, but I will say that I've used Tanwise products for quite a while and love them all (as you can see from me having 4 in this post haha)! Also a quick shopping tip... Sally Beauty often has buy one get one 50% off deals and other sales with Tanwise products!  


Black tunic tank with distressed jeans
Side slit top with ripped jeans
Minimal high-neck tank
Black tunic tank top with jeans
Top: c/o Maude Boutique | Jeans: c/o Articles of Society
Sunglasses: Karen Walker (look for less here) | Heels: Steve Madden
Bag: Forever 21 (cute option here) | Lip color: Colourpop

This minimal tunic top is so chic and different from anything else I've seen...I love the sheer bottom section and the slits on the sides. Maude has soooo many cute new arrivals for fall! I have like 8 things in my cart...yikes.

Complete change of topic, but I think I've been so busy and drained from work that it's been taking a toll on my blogging and on my general level of inspiration. I know that with anything creative, you're bound to have moments/days/weeks where you're incredibly inspired and full of ideas, but also periods of time where you're simply not. I loved this blog post about the topic because it's always good to know you're not alone if you're going through a down period or are in a rut! This weekend I hope to spend lots of time immersed in September issues gaining inspiration + I think fall fashion in general is going to get me inspired again!

Bell Sleeve Tunic

White and denim
White bell sleeve top with distressed denim shorts
Bell sleeve tunic
white Free People tunic
Distressed jean shorts with a white top
White bell sleeve top
Bell sleeves
Top: Free People ('easy girl top' shown in navy) | Shorts: Rag & Bone (similar)
Heels: Splendid | Clutch: Clare V (look for less here)
Choker: Forever 21 | Sunnies: Le Specs 'liar liar'

I was instantly obsessed with this top! It works with so many outfits and for different seasons. It's fairly lightweight so you can wear it now with shorts but it will be so cute in the fall with jeans and ankle boots or over-the-knee boots! I made sure to include a photo of it from the side to show how long it is! Which I am a huge fan of because it covers the booty ;) Also, I've been wearing my new Le Specs 'liar liar' sunglasses pretty much non-stop since I got them last week! I haven't purchased any sunglasses since I splurged on my Karen Walker sunnies last year and two years ago (I have 2 pairs), so that should tell you how obsessed I am! The quality feels very high-end and I love that they're really oversized.


Casual outfit with sneakers
Black lace-up top
White sneakers with shorts
Adidas Stan Smith
BB Dakota black lace-up top
Weekend style with sneakers
Top: Jack by BB Dakota (also comes in ivory!) | Shorts: Levi's
Sunnies: Le Specs ('liar liar') | Sneakers: Adidas
Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (my specific color is sold out)

I have wanted these sneakers for sooo long. Back in the winter when I officially decided I wanted them they were sold out everywhere so I bought Adidas Superstars instead. I loved those too, but it turns out that my sister really wanted some, so I gave her mine and finally got my coveted Stan Smiths (which are just a little more "me")! Long story short, I frickin' love these sneakers. I wore them all weekend and they're simply the chic and so comfy!

Also this Jack by BB Dakota top was a boutique purchase last week but I found it online for you guys. I love that it's oversized and lightweight so it can be worn now with shorts (on non-sweltering days at least) and all fall and winter in a variety of ways. I love the lace-up detailing, but that it's not too low. You can wear a normal bra with it! It's the little things, #amiright?

When Styles From Your Tween Years Become Trendy Again...

Denim skirt with a utility jacket
Denim mini skirt
Denim skirt with a utility jacket
Olive green utility jacket
Raw hem denim mini skirt
Summer-to-fall transition outfit
Jacket: c/o Lookbook Store (old; love this one) | Skirt: c/o James Jeans
Tank: Topshop | Heels: Forever 21 (love these)
Belt: ASOS | Bag: Forever 21 (love this one one sale for $13!)

Do you ever laugh at some of the trends that are coming back in? I feel like I'm reliving my childhood to tween years with chokers, Adidas sneakers, and denim mini skirts, but I'm not going to lie...I love all of those things. If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would be blogging a denim mini skirt in 2016 I would have laughed at you, yet here we are.

I've been on a bit of a budget lately and haven't been buying a ton of new clothes (anyone else feel my pain on this one??), so I challenged myself to style this skirt with all existing items in my closet. My utility jacket and black Topshop tank are two of my biggest closet staples, and you've probably noticed how often I wear them. Then I grabbed accessories that I felt pulled the look together, and I feel like my double buckle belt is the real rockstar of the bunch.

As for denim minis... I think I'm embracing them more and more by the day. I've gathered up some of my favorite finds below, and I have to say that this black one is probably my favorite!    

I can't tell you how happy I am that it's almost the weekend. The last few weeks of work have just about killed me (hah)! Hopefully I will be back to blogging more frequently starting next week. For those of you who don't know, my husband Trey is a high school football coach. Their first game is tonight, so I'm excited to hit the road with some family after work to cheer on his team! It's my favorite kind of Friday night :)