It all started with tanning oil, then baby oil, then the tanning bed boom, and by the end of college, I was going “tanning” nearly every single day. A year-round tan was just a “natural” thing for me in the tropical oasis that is Oklahoma (where I grew up). I’m not so evolved from vanity to not admit that I love the look of tan. It’s just a thing, so let’s accept it and move on. But here’s the thing…a couple of years ago, I had a weird mole that turned out to be melanoma. That will rock your entire sun-worshipping world, in the least of ways how will you maintain your tan. I will write that whole story for you on another day, but for now, I want to tell you what I’ve implemented to keep my skin safe and maintain that tan I can’t quite quit.
For the past couple of years, since stopping my tanning bed routine and staying out of the sun, I’ve tried a lot of things to keep a tan. First was self-tanning lotion. At first, it looked pretty good! And almost overnight, I was orange. I saw a picture of myself from a race, and I looked like a straight up Oompa Loompa (see below), so I threw that tube in the trash. Next, I tried self tanning wipes. Again, these worked pretty well at first, but ultimately orange. What I found about these is that they are good in a pinch when you need a quick color for a temporary amount of time. But they should not be part of a regular routine.
Next was regular spray tans. And honestly, this lasted the longest, in every sense. I got a membership at a local tanning salon, paying around $40 a month, which gave me unlimited access to their spray tanning booths. A tan would last about 4-5 days, so I was going every week. It looked as natural as a tan can look in February in Kansas, and it was fairly easy to accomplish. But it did come with some considerations: you have to make an appointment, you have to budget for it, you have to plan around it with showering, work, events, etc. So even though it worked the best of anything I had tried so far, I kept searching. Enter tanning drops.
For about a year, I had a subscription to a service that sent me different beauty products to try. Some hits, some misses, as is the case with most subscription boxes. But the last box I received had a bottle of MineTan Self Tanning Drops, and I was intrigued, and then hooked.
Here’s the way they work: you mix the recommended amount of tanning drops (typically 1-4 drops) with your daily facial moisturizer and body lotion and apply as normal. The drops work to gradually tan you, versus the other aforementioned products that are most instant solutions.
Here are my tips for morning use: After my morning shower, I complete my daily skin care routine, with my moisturizer being the last step. I mix in 2 drops with my moisturizer and apply as normal, covering my face and neck. I wait for the moisturizer to completely set before applying my makeup. Yes, you can still wear makeup! The drops are so light and, again, are mixed in with your moisturizer, so you can proceed as normal. Then I apply my body lotion with the following measurements–4 drops per leg and 4 drops for my upper body (arms and chest). This formula seems to give me the most natural look, and you can certainly adjust the number of drops for your desired shade.
Here are my tips for use for evening use: I complete my nightly skin care routine, with my night cream being the last step. I mix in 2 drops with my night cream and apply as normal. Then I sleep with this on so it can work overnight.
That initial bottle lasted for almost 3 months, and it worked so well that I cancelled my membership at that tanning salon. Since that time, I have tried a couple of other brands, so here are my recommendations:
Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops–These are fantastic! They have great reviews, and I agree that they have the best overall performance.
TAN-LUXE Illuminating Self-Tan Drops–These are the priciest of the bunch, but for good reason. They work really well and are kind of the leader in this space. They do have separate formulas for face and body, which will give you the best experience, but it will double the price.
Ulta Bronze Glow Self Tanning Glow by Morning Gradual Tan Drops–This is the most cost effective option and would be a good way to dip your toe in the drop pond. I think they work very well for the face but not as well on the body.
Stay safe and stay sunless, and let me know if you try the tanning drops!