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How To Find a Natural Brown (and No Fake Orange) Self Tanner

Updated on May 13, 2011

Brown Not Orange Self Tanners

We all want to find a natural brown self tanner and not a product that gives us a fake orange tan. But how do we know which tanner to choose?

First of all we should find a quality tanner. All products work by the same principle and by using the same active ingredient (DHA) but not all are of the same quality. Some manufacturers use DHA of lower quality.

Furthermore are there a few things to keep in mind apart from choosing the right product. This has to do with the right preparations and a proper application of the tanner. Read on to learn more.

The Principle of Self Tanners

Self tanners (also known as sunless tanners, or UV-free tanners) are creams, gel, lotions, or sprays applied on the skin to achieve a natural natural brown, bronze, golden tanned skin.

The mechanism of self tanners is that they work by staining the most outer layer of the skin. This part of the skin exists of dead skin cells mostly. That's why the tanner has to be re-applied within a few days to a week in order to maintain the tan. (The dead skin cells shed and the tan literally falls off.)

But what to keep in mind when determining which self tanner gives you the best brown tan?

Self Tanners To Avoid

There are some nasty disadvantages to many self tanners. The most common downsides of lower quality self tanners are;

  • Some do not give you that natural brown tint but result in an orange hue.
  • Several tanners have a, sometimes very, unpleasant scent
  • Especially the very cheap tanners tend to dry out your skin.

Being aware of these disadvantages we know what we want in a product:

Criteria of a Quality Self Tanner

  • Dries quickly
  • Moisturizes
  • Smells pleasantly
  • Provides a natural brown and not an orange tan

My Favorite Brown (Not Orange) Self Tanner

A few months ago I started using a sunless tanner that didn't turn me orange. After visiting the website and trying the product's free trial offer ( I believe it is still available) I noticed this product to be really satisfying.

It does not have any adverse effects such as leaving patches or even breakouts as some products I tried did. This product also is easy to use because it is applied really smoothly, absorbs really well, and does not smell.

This will probably be due to the fact that Idol Tan is a tanning lotion with natural ingredients.(the company is member of the Natural Products Association) That's why it is also a very safe product to use which I find very important considering the fact that many tan sprays contain harmful chemicals.

Furthermore this is a moisturizing tanning agent so it hydrates my skin instead of drying it out. I also found it to be the best tanning lotion I know of for camouflaging skin blemishes.

Some Other High Quality Natural Brown Self Tanners

I have tried various self tanners and I found these to be the best on the market. They provide you with a realistic, natural looking tan without the orange cast.

Fake Bake is a great self tanner with a big share of satisfied customers.

I find the Banana Boat tanner has a penetrating smell that tends to stick relatively long which is why I stopped using this product but it does give a great tan for a very good price.

The self tanner by Sun Laboratories was recommended in Consumer Reports. Check out the Amazon reviews to read more user experiences.

Tips For a Natural Brown and No Orange Tan

Use a body lotion or another moisturizing cream every day for at least a few days before starting to use the tanner. Dry skin will get soak up the self tanner which will lead to an uneven tan. When you have prepared your skin with a moisturzing cream the tanning lotion will come on more evenly.

Think and choose what suits you best
Think about what type of self tanner suits you best. There are gradual tanners, dedicated face tanners and specialized body tanners. The latter are generally more rich in fatty ingredients so if you are prone to break outs a facial tanning lotion might be a better choice since it lowers the chance on irritation and does not clog the pores. If you don't have a sensitive skin you can use the same product for both.

Avoid Too Dark Tanners
Self tanners come in light, medium, and dark tones. It is strongly recommended to choose a tone that matches your skin. When you have a fair skin go for a light toned tanner because if the lotion is too dark using it could lead to an orange tan.

Wear gloves or wash your hands
Always make sure you wash, scrub your hands when you are finished when using a non-natural ingredient product. Or wear gloves.

Scrub! For a Realistic Brown Tan

Scrubbing is Key

The last but certainly not the least tip: Scrub!

Exfoliating before applying the self tanner is key to getting a realistic brown tan. If you don't your tan might flake off. It's recommended to start exfoliating a few days before you start applying the self tanner.

Personally I find that exfoliating works best with gloves. But you can also use brushes, towels, soaps, or pads. I would certainly recommend using one of these for optimal results. Make sure to pay extra attention at the dry parts of your body such as your elbows or knees.

How To Apply a Self Tanner on Your Back

The body buddy is a handy tool which helps you apply lotion to the unreachable parts of your body. It does not absorb and is easy to wash.


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    • 07Angel01 profile image

      Diane Marie 7 years ago from Broomall, PA

      Thank you for writing this hub!, it is very well written, and is going to be very useful for me. I have always had a hard time figuring out which self tanner to buy; I also didn't know about the techniques to applying it. Your information is going to help me a great deal. Thanks! :)