Sunless Tanning

Instead of heading to the tanning salon or lying in the sun all afternoon, why not fake that sun-kissed glow with sunless tanning? It’s the only safe way to tan, and there’s no cancer risk involved.

Today’s sunless tanning methods are easy to use and won’t leave you orange and streaky. We do recommend a trial run if you plan to use a sunless tanning product for a big event, though. If your tan turns out less than satisfactory, you only have to endure your fake bake for a few days. And if you’re really in crisis mode, a good scrub will leave your carrot-colored oops behind.

Sunless Tanning Products

Any sunless tanning product will last longer and give you an even coat if you exfoliate first. By ridding yourself of the top layer of dead skin cells, you won’t get varied layers of application — which can result in a patchy or blotchy tan — and the product should adhere to a fresh layer of skin more evenly. Sunless tanning products also take 1-3 hours to show up, so don’t be fooled into thinking you need more product! Just be patient and your color will gradually turn.

A little scared to dive in? Don’t be. We’re here to give you the lowdown on the best way to fake your bake!


One of the easiest ways to ensure coverage is to use a lotion. You apply it the same way you would regular body lotion, just make sure to rub it in and apply an even coat. Sunless tanning lotions come in the drug store variety as well as high-end makeup counter brands. They are successful across the board, and it really comes down to personal preference when using one brand over the other.


Foams aren’t recommended for a first-time user. It’s more challenging to get an even coat with foam tanners, although many people prefer its light application. If you’re a seasoned user, the difference between foams and lotions will come down to what you like best.


Applied the same way as a lotion, a gel product is easy and controllable. The only difference between a gel and a lotion is the consistency.


These disposable towelettes are soaked in sunless tanner and you simply rub the wipe wherever you want to see some color.

Automatic Spray Booths

Most tanning salons offer an automatic spray booth as an alternative to a tanning bed. The process is pretty simple. You wear a net over your hair for protection, a lotion barrier on your hands and feet (so you don’t end up with dark stained hands), strip down, and climb in. In just 30 seconds you’ll emerge with an evenly sprayed tan.

Spray applied by hand (either self or by tanning artist)

The sunless tanning spray for handheld use has gotten a big upgrade. Whether you prefer the experienced hand of a tanning artist (great for body contouring and a natural look) or the privacy of your own bathroom, a self spray is easy breezy.


A bronzer is the least permanent of all tanning products. It’s a form of makeup, and therefore washes off with soap and water. With varieties ranging from drug store to designer makeup brands, adding this to a makeup routine is pretty simple.

What About Tanning Bed Use?

Myth: A tanning bed isn’t as dangerous as being in the sun, because you’re exposed for less time and the UV rays aren’t as powerful.


The dangers of tanning beds have long been underrated. Tanning salons play down the adverse affects of tanning beds and promote them as a healthy way to get your vitamin D intake. However, the UVA and UVB rays emitted in a bed are far stronger than anything needed to get your daily intake of the vitamin. Using a tanning bed once a month before age 35 boosts the risk of getting melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent. Not only does this fake-baking increase your risk of getting skin cancer, it prematurely ages you. Sun damage will cause sun spots and give you wrinkles, neither of which are reversible.

For a long time, a golden tan has been a symbol of health and wellness. But did you know that being tan is a sign of the same damage as a sunburn? Even one blistering sunburn raises your risk of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. Always remember that tanned skin is injured skin! Although it isn’t as serious as a bad burn, the effects of UV damage can be severe and the more UV exposure you get, the more you increase your risk of skin cancer.