Sugarplum Style Tip | Self-Tanner

Thanks so much for the love on our Zion post yesterday! I’m thrilled you guys are excited to hear more about our trip, and I can’t wait to share the next stop on our itinerary…Bryce Canyon!

But today we’re talking tans. Self-tanner, to be exact. I actually wrote this post a few years ago, but it remains one of my most popular…and with the first official day of Spring coming next week, I thought it was a good time to revisit. Soon we’ll be pulling out the skirts, dresses, and even shorts, and you can bet your boots if I’m showing bare legs, then they’re going to be tan!

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 bottom of the post)

Similar Top | Favorite White Jeans (on sale!!)Similar Wedge | Tassel Necklace
Pom Pom Clutch | Sunglasses

Pink Blouse (Pink Swing Tank) | Favorite White Jeans (on sale!!) | Earrings | Pumps


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


Dress | Jacket | Monogrammed Bag | Nude Wedges | Sunglasses
Watch | Cuff | Necklace

Pendant Necklace (similar) | Pave Hoop Earrings | Watch

Striped Dress (similar) | Wedges | Sunglasses | Tassel Necklace


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

Off-the-Shoulder Top | Distressed Jeans | Wedges
Color blocked Clutch | Sunglasses

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

Then 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 of the tanning mouse to small areas 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! But that’s just the pigment that allows you to look immediately more tan.


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?


 Striped BagBag Charm

Answers: 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!


Do you use sunless tanner? What brand do you love, and tips do you have? I hear really good things about these tanning wipes, so I’ve got them on order to see for myself.


Leave a Comment


  1. Shay Shull wrote:

    I am totally going to try this! Your faux-tan looks fantastic!

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  2. Lori wrote:

    I use the St. Tropez mousse and it looks very similar to the Jergens. The first time I bought it, it came with a mitt for application that is awesome. I recently saw that they sell the mitt separately! It completely solves the problem of hurrying to wash your hands. Brilliant! Will have to try the Jergens–it’s a much better price!!

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • Kristen wrote:

      I use the St Tropez mousse too! It’s the most natural looking self tanner I’ve found for my pale skin. 🙂

      Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this mitt!! Thanks for sharing!! My hands thank you, too! 😉

      Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  3. Kellyann wrote:

    Living in Florida I use self tanner year round. I have tried them all, including regular spray tans at the salon. A few years ago when you posted about the Jergens mousse I tried it and NEVER LOOKED BACK! It’s so good. The color is fantastic and it develops fast. I use latex gloves to put it on and then use a beauty blender to put it on the tops of my hands. Thank you for sharing this information, it has saved me major $$$$!

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Great tips about the gloves and blender, too! Thanks Kellyann!

      Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  4. Kristen wrote:

    I discovered the Jergen’s mousse last summer, and it’s so good! I have to admit that I did make a bit of a mess during the whole application process, so I’ll be trying your tips this time around. Headed to Miami for a girls’ trip in a few weeks, and these legs are not ready!

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  5. Christina wrote:

    Well I’ll have to give this a try! I’m starting to match my white denim so that is no good! Thanks for reposting.

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  6. Brittany wrote:

    I’m a self tanner hoarder and I love have all of these… They are amazing!! Your skin looks flawless!!! Here’s to hoping the real sun will come out soon!

    Brittany 😉

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  7. Love these tips! I’ve used both of those L’Oreal products before, but not the Jergens mousse. I didn’t like the scent of the Jergens tanning lotion at all, and that’s when I switched to L’Oreal. Now I use Alba Botanica lotion (I always combine it with a little bit of regular lotion to prevent streaks) and sometimes Kate Sommerville tanning towelettes, which are a little pricey. I’ll have to give the mousse a try!!

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  8. Sam wrote:

    How do you do the hard to reach areas, like your back? We just booked a trip to Dominican Republic and being as pale as I am, I want to bronze it up a little before we go so I don’t blind the other guests 🙂

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      For all over body, I usually will get a spray tan at a salon…I guess I could ask Mr. SP, but not sure how even it’d be! 😉 I use the self-tanner mostly for my arms, legs, and chest areas…basically the part that pokes out of clothes! 😉

      Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  9. Sarah wrote:

    I have very fair skin similar to you. Do you choose the dark or light/medium Jergens? Amazon offers both.

    Also, do you wear white jeans the same day you apply after it dries? With the Jergens lotions I let it dry but some always rubbed off on white jeans or taupe bras….

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      I go with the dark so I don’t have to apply too many days in a row! Also, I do try to avoid white clothes the day I apply it…just to be safe!

      Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  10. Maryellen wrote:

    I’d used the Jergen’s Natural Glow lotion for years (and liked it) but, when I read your post last year, I tried the mousse and then lived in it all summer. It was amazing. I loved being able to see exactly where I’d applied (or missed spots) and the self-tanner works even better than their lotions. Getting ready to stock up on some more for our upcoming trip to Charleston.

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  11. Megan wrote:

    I’m a huge fan of St Tropez tanning mousse but now you have me intrigued by the L’Oréal mousse. may have to give it a trial run before next week’s spring break trip. A tanning mitt solves the hand staining problem. Worth every penny!

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  12. Jen wrote:

    I also love the Jergans moose. Try using a sunless tanner mitt to apply… will change your life 😉 They have them at Ulta or Sephora

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      How have I never known about this mitt!?!?

      Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • K.C. wrote:

      I recently told to try the oval brush to apply tanner and I LOVE IT. I used to use the mitt too, but the oval brush applies it very smoothly and evenly. You can find them @ Nordstrom or TJ Max (paid $7 at Max) They have been showing up on the beauty blogs to apply foundation. I bought the largest one I could find & lime it better for blending at knee, ankles & hand. I was turned on to this by a make-up artist. Good luck ladies ….happy summer.

      Posted 3.17.17 Reply
  13. Libby wrote:

    I am very fair and must use self tanner because I am no longer baking in the sun to tan. Over the years I have tried all the self tanners. I recently discovered Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer. It is the bomb! You lather it on after the shower while your skin is still wet! With a towel you pat dry. I am loving it!

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Ooooh, good to know! I’ll have to look for that one, too!

      Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • Allison wrote:

      Ooooohhhhhhh I have that and I love it!!! It actually works really really well!

      Posted 3.17.17 Reply
  14. Missy B wrote:

    I’m 43 and have had basal cell skin cancer 3 times!!! So I’m all about sunless tanner and I preach it to everyone. My favorite is St Tropez Mousse. I buy the largest bottle on Amazon and it lasts forever and I use it 2 times per week usually. My trick is to use surgical gloves to apply. Then when I’m done I fold them back to expose the tops of my hand, rub a little on the tops, then pull the gloves all the way off and voila, done! So easy. The color is very natural and I always get compliments. It isn’t very dark so sometimes I will use two days in a row to get more color. If I’m going on a trip, or special event, then I book a spray tan.

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Such a great tip, Missy!! I’m so grateful you’re healthy now!!! xo

      Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • Allison wrote:

      Hi, I liked your comment and congratulations and big happy hugs for your amazing victory!!!!!!
      As far as the self tanning i wanted to know, what skin tone are you? I am as fair as anyone could possibly be, and it is EXTREMELY hard to find a sunless tanner that doesn’t scream “FAKE!”

      Posted 3.17.17 Reply
  15. Christine wrote:

    I love the Jergens mousse. I put a dab of hand cream on my palms and back of fingers so the mousse doesn’t sink in as much. It works really well. I also scrub with a shower pouf and that always gets it all off. Super fast and easy.

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
  16. Angela wrote:

    If you don’t apply on your face (which I totally understand) where to do stop applying? I’d think there would be an obvious line somewhere along your neck.

    Also, never spray tanned before. Is that a good idea before hitting the beach? I’ve heard that the sand can rub off the tan and make you look really splotchy.

    So many questions since I’m new to the sunless tanning world!

    Posted 3.16.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      I kind of just blend the ‘leftover’ on my hands up my neck. The tan isn’t so dark that it creates a line…and it’s usually blended with makeup. xo

      Posted 3.17.17 Reply
  17. Allison wrote:

    Can anyone help me???
    I am the palest, most fair skin tone ever and I am having SUUUCHHH A HARD time finding a sunless tanner that doesn’t look so fake and crappy.
    Does anyone have any suggestions?
    Thanks in advance!!!!! I’m beginning to lose hope!!!!

    Posted 3.17.17 Reply
    • Allison wrote:

      P.S. To give u an idea of my palest of pale skin tone, think of a red head with blue eyes and freckles and milk white skin……
      Has ANYONE found a self tanner that i MIGHT be able to use?????

      Posted 3.17.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      I would try this Jergons Mousse, but in the light shade!

      Posted 3.17.17 Reply
  18. Mary wrote:

    Off topic….but that red/pink/white tassel necklace is so cute. Do you remember where it was purchased? Thanks!

    Posted 3.17.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Yes ma’am…it’s linked under the image…or you can find it here:

      Posted 3.17.17 Reply
      • Mary wrote:

        HI Cassie, I should have been clearer in my question. I meant the multi-tassel necklace you’re wearing with the pink shorts. I’ve pinned it multiple times because I love it so much. There’s a similar one at AC, but not as cute as yours.

        Posted 3.20.17 Reply
        • Cassie wrote:

          Ooooh, in that last pic!! I’ve had that thing forever…I love it, too! I found it at Furbish (, but I don’t see it on their site any longer. Fortunately, tassels are everywhere this season, so hopefully similar will pop up!! xo

          Posted 3.20.17 Reply
          • Mary wrote:

            Thanks Cassie, and thanks for being so good about responding to questions! Appreciate it so much! XO

            Posted 3.21.17
  19. Sidney wrote:

    Now that I’m in my 40’s I’m getting age spots on my legs and chest from sun damage. Sunless tanners actually darken the spots and make them more prominent. I just use Sally Hanson air brush legs to give me a fake tan AND cover the age spots!

    Posted 3.17.17 Reply
    • Amy wrote:

      Me too– and I’ve used a small dollop of moisturizer on a Q-Tip to wipe off the tanner on any dark spots. Works well!

      Posted 3.18.17 Reply
  20. Nancy A wrote:

    My favorite for many years has been Bare Essentials Faux Tan. It has a color in it so you can see where you applied it and it looks great day one without waiting for it to develop. (applied with latex gloves) Recently I tried Vita Liberata mousse…it comes with the mitt and has a really nice smooth application leaving no streaks or blotches. The color is beautiful and there is zero smell, but the only drawback is that you have to apply it 3 times in 12 hours to get the best/most long-lasting color. The Jargons mousse appears to be very similar.

    Posted 3.18.17 Reply
  21. Charlotte wrote:

    I’ll definitely have to try the Jergans! We have similar skin tones.
    I use tanwise, from Sally’s beauty supply after reading about it on the “maskara” blog post on self tanners. I use the dark bronze (even though I’m pale.) It’s a mouse & it’s only $11. There is also a face tanner and it is a gel. It gives a pretty tan and the smell is not bad at all, to me, barely noticeable. I’m super sensitive to the tan smells, so this is a huge plus for me! Oh, and I too apply with medical latex gloves, then for hands apply a small amount and rub the top of my hands and wrists together.
    Can’t wait to try your suggestions!

    Posted 3.20.17 Reply
  22. Padhma wrote:

    Really nice information you had provided here. And i hope this will be useful for many people. So please keep update like this.

    Posted 4.5.17 Reply
  23. Julie Higginbotham wrote:

    Such great info! I am a big believer in the tanning mitt too! One quick question – what exfoliators do you like to use? I can’t seem to find any I like…

    Posted 4.7.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      I just use a drugstore loofa pouf thingie, and some lathering body wash!

      Posted 4.7.17 Reply
  24. Michelle wrote:

    I’m going to try the self tanner again. Somehow i never get it on right! Fo u ‘rub’ it in or just more like ‘stroke’ it on? I rub it in and thjnking maybe thats the reason? There is a new place that does the self tanner spray that gaurantees a ‘no orange’ after effect. But thats $$$. I’m gonna try one more time

    Posted 4.9.17 Reply
  25. Shalini wrote:

    It’s interesting that many of the bloggers to helped clarify a few things for me as well as giving.Most of ideas can be nice content.The people to give them a good shake to get your point and across the command.

    Posted 4.11.17 Reply
  26. Abiya wrote:

    Great Article… I love to read your articles because your writing style is too good, its is very very helpful for all of us and I never get bored while reading your article because, they are becomes a more and more interesting from the starting lines until the end.

    Posted 4.12.17 Reply
  27. Ellen wrote:

    What do you look for in a salon spray tan? I have had some really bad ones! The good ones are great, but the bad ones have scared me off…

    Posted 5.12.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      I’ve gone to Benefit a few times, and they always do a great job. Other than word of mouth, it’s hard to know if you’ve got a good place or not!! Hence why I end up doing it myself at home a lot of the time.

      Posted 5.15.17 Reply
  28. wow, great write up, very well research and engaging! I’m going to try some of the products.Thanks for this post!

    Posted 6.23.17 Reply
  29. Ajay Varma wrote:

    I really like what you have acquired here,
    certainly like what you are saying and the way in which you say it.
    You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it sensible.

    Posted 12.20.17 Reply
  30. CR wrote:

    Thanks for info. What bronzer do you use for your face?

    Posted 2.7.18 Reply
  31. CR wrote:

    Thanks for the info. What bronzer do you use for your face?

    Posted 2.7.18 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      I love Laura Gellars!

      Posted 2.8.18 Reply
  32. Walatra wrote:

    Thanks a lot for the information, very useful and very readable

    Posted 2.15.18 Reply
  33. thank you for sharing info

    Posted 3.8.18 Reply
  34. Nancy wrote:

    I’ve recently discovered Tan Ceuticals and it’s hands down my favorite self tanner! Unlike every other self tanner that promises no lingering funky odor, this one delivers! It has a nice soft coconut fragrance with absolutely no yucky smell! And it tans beautifully! I found it on Amazon for under 30.00. The product has excellent reviews! One tip I suggest with any self tanner is to apply a thin layer of lotion to elbows, knees and ankle bones before applying the tanner. Self tanners tend to show up darker on the rougher areas of our bodies and the lotion prevents the product from absorbing so much.

    Posted 5.12.18 Reply
  35. Rubina wrote:

    Great way to be stylish and Loreal is one of the Genuine brand for your skin.

    Posted 10.9.19 Reply