Living in Southern California means wearing skirts and even shorts year round, which means trying to keep that golden California glow. I’m just not one of those girls that looks good in shorts or a swimsuit without a bit of a tan. I’m very careful with my skin so I always wear sunscreen.

My skin is fairly light skin but I do like to have a tan in the summer, so I’ve become sort of a self tan expert. I don’t want to be really bronze, just a hint of color that is natural looking and not orange.

I’ve made every mistake you can think of trying to find the self tanners that I like and learn how to apply them correctly, and I finally feel like I have a good spectrum of products and tips to help me achieve the exact look I want.

Here are some of my favorites at the moment:

Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub

Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub

Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub

The first step to self tanning is to shave and exfoliate. If you don’t exfoliate you’ll have very uneven color. I love these sugar body scrubs by Tree Hut. They are perfect for exfoliating before self tanning and they smell heavenly! They are inexpensive and leave your skin feeling soft and polished. Tropical Mango and Brazilian Nut are my faves.

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Kate Somerville Tanning Towelettes

Kate Somerville Tanning Towelettes

Kate Somerville Tanning Towelettes

Kate Somerville makes great skin products that are so worth the splurge! These Tanning Towelettes are so easy to use and the color is very natural. The color lasts 4-5 days and fades naturally without looking fake (very important). Apply in a circular motion and wash your hands afterwards. Perfect for travel too.

I also love Kate’s Body Glow Sunscreen. It’s a lightweight cream that feels so elegant. It contains antioxidants and has a slight shimmer which adds a subtle glow to your skin. Shake the tube before applying to make sure the product is mixed. With a 20 spf its perfect for everyday use.

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Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning

Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning

Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning

Perfect for face and décolleté. Clarins has been a leader in the self tanning department for years and this is one of their most highly rated facial self tanners. It gives a lovely light tan to the face. It’s a lightly scented lotion which leaves your skin amazingly soft and moisturized. Apply with a cotton ball before bedtime. You can’t make a mistake with this one.

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St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse

St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse

St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse

This bronze tinted foaming mousse is a self tanning favorite. It’s easy to see where you are applying it. The results are a natural, streak free tan with no orange color. One application gives a nice natural glow. Apply at night and wash off when you shower in the morning. Lasts for 4-5 days. I recommend buying the mitt. It makes application much easier. Good instruction video here.

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Jergens Natural Glow

Jergens Natural Glow

Jergens Natural Glow

Last but not least, Jergens Natural Glow. This product is one of the most highly praised self tanner on Amazon. It’s perfect for daily use, especially if you want to maintain your tan.

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You can also tan gradually by mixing your self tanner with a light moisturizer and using daily. I always have wet wipes on hand to go over elbows, ankles and palms.

St. Tropez Self Tan

St. Tropez Self Tan

Go lightly on self tanner to avoid making mistakes. If you do make a mistake here are a few tips to help:

  1. Scrub the area gently with a good exfoliator with micro beads or pumice.
  2. Mix together 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup baking soda. Cut a lemon in half and dip in the baking soda mixture. Rub on streaky areas to lighten them.
  3. If your tan is too dark all over, apply baby oil and wait for 10 or so minutes, then soak in the tub. This will cause the top layer of color to loosen and lift making it easier to scrub off.

In the end we have to remind you once again that self tanners don’t protect you from the sun so always remember to use sunscreen.