Let’s Chat | Self-Tanner

Spring has fully sprung in Texas…sure there are still a few chilly days, but the time has come to shed the tights. I’ve even been able to wear shorts a few times. But you can bet your boots if I’m showing bare leg, then it’s going to be tan!

I shared my How to Transition to Spring tips, and showed several of them in #SugarplumStyle posts over on Facebook and InstaGram….and all have had one common and recurring comment from you guys….‘Tell us about your self-tanner!’

Like most of us, I’ve had my fair-share of orange and streaky legs. Over the years, I’ve figured out what works best for me, and I’m happy to share my method with you. I’m no expert, but let’s see if you can tell the difference between my real and fake tan in these pics from previous posts…(the answers can be found upside down at the end of this post).

Dress (similar) | Floral Sandals (similar) | Sunglasses | Earrings


Pink Blouse (similar) | White Jeans (similar) | Leopard Belt (similar) | Earrings | Pumps


Dress | Crossbody Bag (similar) | Bag Charm | Earrings
Fedora (similar) | Aviators | Watch | Flip Flops


Pendant Necklace (similar) | Pave Hoop Earrings | Watch


Stripe Dress (similar) | Necklace (similar) | Gingham Shirt (similar)
Pumps | Clutch (similar) | Sunglasses


White Dress (similar) | Floral Sandals (similar) | Clutch (similar) | Earrings

Of course I’m not savvy enough to figure out how to invert text, so I’ll just tell you….fake, fake, real, fake, real, fake. How’d you do?

There are a million different self-tanners (give or take), but I’m a cheapo, so I prefer the drugstore variety. For the past few years, I’ve used the Loreal Sublime Bronze line, and loved it. It gives an even, natural-looking tan. The spray makes a mess of the bathroom floor, so I only use it for hard-to-reach spots, and stick with the gel for my arms and legs. It does have a touch of shimmer, so that might not be your jam.

This year I discovered the holy grail of tanners…Jergen’s Sunless Tanning Mouse with instant color!

Hi Sugarplum | Self Tanner

Oh yes, instant color! This is great because not only are you immediately tan, but you can see where you’re putting it. And it dries in less than 60 seconds…not a little bit dry, but completely, no-residue or stickiness dry. It’s also got the least amount of smell of any brand I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot).

So now that you know what I use, let’s talk about how I get the best results (these tips work for any brand).

{Application Tips & Tricks}


*The night before, shave and exfoliate. Not excessively, but enough to soften your skin.
*Moisturize immediately after bathing. These steps prime your skin for even absorption of the tanner.
Hi Sugarplum | How to Apply Self-Tanner
*The next day, apply a thin, even layer to small sections at a time. Don’t rub down an entire leg with a big blob…I apply it to each leg in three sections (ankle, knee area, thigh). Same for arms and chest.
*Don’t forget the backs of your arms and down your sides.
Hi Sugarplum | How to Apply Self-Tanner
*Lastly, apply a small bit to the tops of your feet and hands.
*Wash your hands immediately, scrubbing only the palms. The downside of the Jergen’s Mousse is how badly it will stain your hands if you don’t wash quickly, and aggressively!
Hi Sugarplum | How to Apply Self-Tanner

*Wait until that evening to bathe again. You’ll be instantly tan, but the sunless tanner will also develop throughout the day.*I don’t sun my face…real or fake…I use bronzer instead.

*I don’t want to have to apply it every few days, so I use the ‘dark’ shades so I can git ‘er done with a single application. It starts dark, and fades naturally over a week.

Can you tell which of these is sunless tan?


Swing Tank (on sale for $15!) | Lace Shorts (similar) | Flip Flops
Necklace | Ring | Chain Bracelet


Jean Jacket (similar) | White Tee | Shorts (similar) | Leopard Sandals


Striped Tee (similar) | Pink Shorts (similar) | Leather Belt

Answers: Real, Fake, Real. And just in case you think I might have naturally dark skin, here’s a shot from an unseasonably warm January day. #caspercalled

I typically just use tanner on my arms, legs, and chest during the Spring, then my whole body once pool season rolls around. Feeling tan makes putting on a bathing suit a little less painful! My kids actually got in the pool this weekend, but there’s a few more weeks before this mama hops in!

But after falling down the Nordstrom rabbit-hole of cute new swimsuits, I may have to make an exception! I’m eyeing these sassy one-pieces this year…especially this one and this tankini. And hello darling striped cover-up and hat!

women's swim
Miracle One-Piece | Stripe Cover-Up | Flip-Flops (hands-down my fave brand)
Mr. SP is a fan of the board short, but I’m hoping to get him in a shorter pair of trunks this year. #goodluckwiththat I just discovered the Men’s selection of $10 sunglasses, too! I know he’ll go for those!


Hi Sugarplum | Self Tanner

Do you use sunless tanner? What brand do you love, and tips do you have? Who’s ready for sun and vacation now?!

{Shop More Swim Favorites}

*This post is written in collaboration with Nordstrom, but all outfits, clothing selections, and Casper-impersonating are my own. Thank you for supporting Hi Sugarplum sponsors!*

Leave a Comment


  1. Um, I feel like I need a tan now. You look so good in each and every pic!! Girl crush 🙂

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  2. My tan definitely comes from a bottle as well. Since you mentioned the Jergens is "low smell" I'll have to try that cause I bet its less expensive.

    Tip #1: when outside wear SPF in addition to your tan, the fake tan offers zero protection from the sun

    Tip #2: I either use a rinse-able applicator mit (you can purchase a really good generic brand mit at Walmart) OR standard disposable plastic gloves to protect my hands from staining. Also I've heard that if you apply lotion to your hands right before applying the tanner, the tanner will wash right off.

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  3. Meghan wrote:

    I think I might have to try this! I desperately need a tan!

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  4. I love Jergens sunless tanner but I haven't tried the instant stuff. Must look for that! What kind of bronzer do you use on your face? I haven't had luck with that.

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
    • Honestly…nothing fancy! I'm not much of a make-up girl…I have one I picked up at H&M last year and love it. Of course, I wouldn't know if I'm doing it right or not! xo

      Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  5. I have really been wanting to try Jergens' Instant, and your post has sealed the deal for me. I'm definitely picking some up. I will say, though, I really like the Tan Towels that you can get from HSN or Kohl's. They're super easy to apply and are hard to mess up. I'd like to try those Sublime Bronze towelettes from L'Oreal, though, since those are a cheaper option.

    Thanks for the great tips today!

    "The Busy Brunette"


    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
    • Steph wrote:

      I use the L'Oreal towelettes and they are, in my opinion, awesome. Because I am SUPER INDULGENT,I use one on my top half and another on my bottom half. I do that once a week and use another just on my legs in between. They're $8 for 6 so for $16 a month, I'm knocking off the glare and camouflaging my spider veins enough to feel confident in shorts. LOVE the idea of instant color so will try your mouse, Cassie, thank you!

      Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  6. i've been trying to just accept/embrace my pale-ness but now im tempted to try the fake bronzer stuff! xo jillian – cornflake dreams

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
    • If my paleness were a creamy, pretty shade…I'd embrace it! Mine is more spotted blue! 😉

      Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  7. I need self tanner bad!! Will try this one out!

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  8. tinab158 wrote:

    Here's a tip for applying the bronzer/self-tanner…wash your hands with a moisturizing hand soap immediately before applying the bronzer lotion, and then wash immediately after.

    Why? The palms of our hands are one of the driest parts of our bodies and they soak up the first moist thing they can. If you make that "first thing" good old-fashioned soap or a regular hand lotion, they'll be nice and moist and won't need to soak up the bronzer that will turn them orange. There's your tip for the day….:)

    Signed, a tanning salon owner who's had their share of orange hands

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
    • Amazing tip…thanks so much Tina!!!! xo

      Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  9. Great post!!!!! Such good tips! And I love the swimsuits you chose!

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  10. Emi Cooper wrote:

    I really like that Loreal Sublime Bronze tanner! I've been using it this Spring and I am LOVING it! Thanks for the tips!!

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  11. shaeken wrote:

    I was SO excited to read this post because while I tan very easily (I'm Native American), those first few weeks bearing my legs are scary because I turn a weird shade of sort of dark pale over the winter! I'm in a wedding in May so I've been looking for a good self tanner that will give me a nice color – we are wearing pale pink dresses so I don't want to look too scary pale or fake orange! I will definitely try the Jergens Instant Sun and the Sublime Bronze spray. I've been using the Jergens gradual tan lotion for a while and I like it okay. I tired the "gradual" foaming daily moisturizer from Jergens this weekend and PLEASE warn people: it's not as good as ANY of their other stuff! I was a crazy, streaky, orange mess! https://www.jergens.com/products/natural-glow/foaming-daily-moisturizer.aspx I've NEVER had this result with self tanner from a bottle or a spray tan at a salon, so I never understood what people meant when they said they got streaky and orange… I discovered it and wanted to CRY! Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  12. steph wrote:

    I have a question about the Seanna flip flops that you are wearing with the swing tank top . This will probably sound strange but does the part that sits between your toes hurt at all? I'm having a really hard time finding flip flops that don't hurt between that area where the flip flip material touches between the toes. I love the neutral color of yours!

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
    • Hi Steph! The exact flip-flops I'm wearing are old, so I linked a similar pair. Unfortunately, I don't have first hand experience with those. But I have found that flip flops always hurt my feet for the first week or so of the season, until my toes get used to them being there! Hope this helps! And of course Nordstrom has free shipping and returns, even if you've already worn them, so you could always give it a try! xo

      Posted 4.21.15 Reply
    • steph wrote:

      Thank you for your response. I didn't know that about Nordstrom. I guess I could wear them around the house for a few hours so they don't get all scuffed up in case I had to return them:)
      I love the way you put together your outfits. So many great ideas that I never seem to think about trying!

      Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  13. Leslie wrote:

    Ugg, I always look orange, so I appreciate the tips!

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  14. I was always a fan of the bare minerals faux tan because it worked so well and had great color. Unfortunatley, I believe they changed the formula because it looks orangey on me now. I was using the L'oreal wipes until I found the Jergens foam a couple of months ago. Now I am addicted to Jergens! So easy to use and I love how the color develops!

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  15. I just tried the Clinique body tanner and I like it, but it's $$, so I may switch over to the Jergens. I will say the Clinique has very little scent, and it tans very well. Also, have you thought about using a thin latex glove for application? I buy the Mr. Clean gloves (30 for about $3.50) and just use one on my right hand ~ I figure the bag of 30 should last all summer.

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  16. lindley wrote:

    I have, like you, tried them all – even the $$$ ones hoping for good results. But you're right – this Jergens Instant Sun mousse is just amazing – even on feet! I got the Light Bronze (because I'm a chicken) and the color is great – like that Hawaii golden tan. Thank you for telling me about this when I saw your brown legs a couple of weeks ago! XOX

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  17. Jenn wrote:

    I found a great sunless tanner spray from Sephora for my legs. It's really easy to use. I spray my legs in the shower stall and then just rinse it out. For my face, the Clarins Radiance Glow Booster drops are fantastic! Just add a couple of drops to your regular face moisturizer. A little goes a long way so the bottle lasts a long time.

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  18. Cassie,
    Words cannot express how grateful I am that you posted this (not to mention the gratitude of others who won't have to be blinded by my white legs)! Thank you so much for the research and DIY details!


    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
  19. Jen Hauer wrote:

    Love the tips! One thing also- sunless tanners have a lot of dangerous, toxic chemicals. I thought I would never be able to avoid this (and just accepted it as my one splurge!) but I found this product that Target and Amazon sell:


    It's definitely more expensive but it works just as good as the cheap, toxic stuff! Just thought I would share a good organic alternative 🙂 It's also safe to use while pregnant!

    Posted 4.21.15 Reply
    • Anonymous wrote:

      Thanks for sharing! Jergen's tanners are filled with Parabens and Parabens are known hormone disrupters. Tons of products are full of them and people have no idea about them and that they are absorbing these ingredients and causing harm to their bodies! These are toxic. (Butylparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, polyparaben, isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben(polyparaben, methyparaben, etc…) Just Google and you will get an eye opener.

      Posted 4.22.15 Reply
    • Yikes…that's scary stuff! Thanks for sharing, I'll have to look in to that!

      Posted 4.22.15 Reply
  20. Anonymous wrote:

    I love sunless towelettes!!! so much easier to have even coverage. Target carried that Sonia Kushak ones but I haven't seen them in a year. The L'oreal ones are pretty good but the Sonia ones smelled better.

    Posted 4.22.15 Reply
    • Anonymous wrote:

      Wow – the typos! Oops! 🙂

      Posted 4.22.15 Reply
  21. I love the Loreal spray tanner too, but I use it at night since it takes a while to dry. And, I step in the shower to spray it on so it doesn't matter where the overspray goes. Will definitely try the mousse!

    Posted 4.22.15 Reply
  22. Amanda wrote:

    Thank you! I'm on the hunt for a self-tanner now that the weather is warming up, so I will definitely give this a try (:


    Posted 4.22.15 Reply
  23. Ooh! I can't wait to try this. Now that we have a pool I've got to get some sort of tan. 🙂

    Posted 4.22.15 Reply
  24. Anonymous wrote:

    You are beyond adorable in all of these pictures, but I actually think you look most beautiful in the one where you aren't wearing any sunless tanner! So pretty! But as a fellow fair-skinned lady, I totally get why the self-tanner feels completely necessary. Thanks for the sunless tanner recommendation, I love a good drugstore find 🙂

    Posted 4.23.15 Reply
  25. joalvinoth wrote:

    You’re right! All the points mentioned in the article seem to be truth and it is worth reading. Truly had fun reading this post.

    Posted 4.23.15 Reply
  26. mwimp wrote:

    i'll have to try them – I have the juergans (sp?) that "builds on each level" but I'm like u I want it done and over with – one swoop!

    Posted 4.23.15 Reply
  27. mwimp wrote:

    ps. I missed the floppy hat – grr! I need one for when we go to destin this summer. I'm stalking it now

    Posted 4.23.15 Reply
  28. Erin wrote:

    Thanks for the tips!!

    And great way to included a sponsored post. I hate when I feel like I'm starting to read an advertisement. :0)

    Posted 4.24.15 Reply
  29. Anonymous wrote:

    I love your style! You LOVE tassels, Charming Charlie has a ton of swim suit cover ups w/tassels & not very expensive!! You can look online or @ their store…if their not sold out & each store seems to sale a bit of different things! I think you will LOVE them!!

    Posted 4.30.15 Reply
  30. czp22 wrote:

    Thank you, Cassie!! I tried it and I LOVE IT – it's the best self-tanner I have ever used – no smell, works fast and thanks to your tips, I applied it evenly. Ready for my sundress and a Kentucky Derby party today 🙂 But I guess after reading the comments, I will have to use it only on special occasions.

    Posted 5.2.15 Reply