How To Apply Self Tanner feat. Sun Labs Tanning Lotions

Ah yes, the wonderful world of self tanning! I’ve been wanting to create a post about this forEVER so when Sun Laboratories sent me their tanning lotion set to try out there seemed like no better time.

Since my genes blessed me with pale white skin, I’ve always been jealous of people who can step outside and get an instant tan. I am Irish and Scottish way far down the line of ancestry, and literally nothing else mixed in. I wish I had even one tenth of some exotic, gorgeously toned family member in my genes, but I guess my family has just been boring and continued marrying Canadians with ghostly appearances. So when you throw a self tanner at me, you bet’cha I’m going to give it a whirl! Even if it means posing in a bikini in front of the world.

The Sun Labs dark self tanning kit comes with three bottles. One is your tanning lotion, one is an exfoliating scrub, and the other is a tan moisturizer/maintainer lotion.

First impression of this tanning lotion was that it doesn’t smell funky like lot of other tanning products. It is brown with a green tint. The green tint told me right away that this stuff wasn’t going to turn me orange (if a tanning lotion has a green tint, that is the kind you want).

Check out my before and after photos and then I’ll explain how I apply tanning lotion to be free of streaks. Before:

3 hours after the Sun Labs lotion was applied:

bikini top: volcom

As you can see, it gives you a really nice natural glow. This was with just one application, but you can definitely layer another on top if you want to be super dark. Personally, this is enough for my liking.

How to do it:

Before you begin, you need to prep your skin. Don’t just get excited and start applying self tanner all over yourself. Take a shower and really scrub yourself clean. Use an exfoliating cloth or sponge and make sure you get every area of your body. Imagine that you’ve just committed a crime and need to get all traces of DNA off of you… that is how clean you should be! Shave your legs too!

Next, apply a moisturizer to all areas of your body that tend to be drier than the rest or places that would hold more product than necessary. These include:

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Ankles
  • Wrists
  • Knuckles
  • and I like to do my belly button and the area right outside my armpits (where they crease)


Then start applying the tanning lotion, doing one body part at a time. I usually start at my wrists and move up to my shoulders, then do the same on the other arm, then continue onto my chest and torso all the way down to my feet. Rub it around in circular motions until it starts to feel like you can’t really rub it anymore. It will almost feel a bit chalky. Wash your hands often after each body part.

It is SUPER important to get the product onto every inch of your skin. Look in a mirror and turn your body parts around as you go. To do your back, you might need to ask a friend or willing boyfriend/husband to help out. Once finished, don’t dress yourself right away as you will get the colour onto your clothes. Usually I wear dark garments until I can shower.

The Sun Labs tanner goes on brown so you can see where you put it. The added bronzer means you will have a bit of an instant tan, but the chemicals inside of the lotion also take a bit of time to react to the melanin in your skin, so after a couple of hours you will have a great glow.  You can shower a few hours after applying a tanner to get rid of the residue and be assured that your clothes will be free from marks.

Overall, I am definitely happy with the Sunlabs tanning products. It might be one of the best self tanning lotions I’ve tried. The colour is fabulous and one of the more natural tones I’ve achieved. The tan lasts about 4-5 days on me so if you want a continuous tan you’ll have to keep repeating this process every few days.

You can get this tanning kit here or check out the other products they offer!
You can also save 10% on their website with this self tanning coupon code 0333.

Do you self tan? What products have you tried?

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By Dana Fox

Founder of the Wonder Forest blog and brand and bestselling author of the Watercolor With Me book series.