How To Get a Tan While Wearing Sunscreen

Yes, you can wear SPF every day without giving up the glow

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Curology Team
May 02, 2018 · 3 min read

Hand with red fingernails rubbing sunscreen on arm with red and white striped towel and sunglasses
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Updated July 2021

We’re fans of self tanner for one big reason: it’s the only way to get a tan while protecting your skin from sun exposure. After all, Curology is a skincare company and we’re in the business of making great skin possible for everybody — and sunscreen is the first and foremost step in preventing aging and skin cancer.

That said, we also get how tempting it is to go for that bronzed glow — especially when summer rolls back around. It’s better to fake it than to do permanent damage to your skin. So we’ve rounded up a list of self tanners you can use to get the best of both worlds.

Pro Tips on How to Use a Self Tanner

  1. Exfoliate your elbows, around your cuticles, and around the ankles, where dead skin cells tend to build up before you apply self tanner to ensure an even application. We recommend Dermadoctor KP Duty scrub, but really, whatever exfoliation works best for you will give you a nice clean canvas for the self tanner to work on. Shaving your legs right before using self tanner can help, too.

  2. Use an applicator like the ULTA Sunless Mitt. It makes it way easier to get an even, consistent result — and at $6, it’s a smart investment.

  3. If you’re going outside, put on your SPF first, then your self tanner. Think of sunscreen as your base, or primer, before the self tanner.

  4. Self-tanning towelettes like TAN TOWEL Self-Tan Towelette Full Body Application For Face & Body are perfect for on-the-go application.

Our picks for sunless tanners:

One of the best sunless tanners for at-home use is Tanceuticals. They make one for body and one for face. Each tan lasts about three days, depending how much you exfoliate (and you definitely want to exfoliate before each time you put this on for a fresh canvas). We recommend buying directly from the Tanceuticals site for the freshest product.

For a serious spray-tan, go for HD Mystic Spray. If you miss a spot, use a gradual self-tan lotion to cover it up, so you won’t end up looking like Ross from that one episode of Friends.

Self tanners we love:

St. Tropez Self Tan Express Advanced Bronzing Mousse*Note: If the color looks scary at first, don’t worry — you won’t be that color! It just makes it easy to apply an even layer because you can easily see where you put it and where you didn’t.

Fabulous Self-Tanning Gradual Lotion by Vita Liberata

St. Moriz Instant Tanning Mist

Neutrogena Build-A-Tan Gradual Sunless Tanning

L’Oréal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Towelettes *Note: Perfect on-the-go!

Product Links: Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).

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