Get the perfect suntan without sunburn. Sunless tanning is the best way to bronze. But what if your budget is tight and you don’t want to spend extra cash on an applicator mitt? Will your fake tan turn out streaky? Not if you follow these tips on how to apply self-tanner without a mitt.
What can I use to apply tanning mousse?
Sunless tanning mousse is the most challenging self-tanner to apply without a mitt. Here is our favorite mousse from the award-winning brand, St. Tropez. It develops a golden tan within one hour and deeper color after three hours.
St. Tropez Self Tan Express Advanced Bronzing Mousse
One of the world’s most popular self-tanning companies is St. Tropez. Their products are foolproof and straightforward to use. You’ll never go orange and it’s rare to end up with streaks. The express mousse is the best if you’re in a hurry because you can shower after an hour and still walk away tan.
Of course, they always recommend using their brand of applicator mitt, but there’s no reason you can’t use something less expensive. More on that in a moment.
In the meantime, if you haven’t tried this express bronzing mousse yet, it’s definitely worth your while. It’s paraben-free and it features 100% natural DHA, the active ingredient that creates the bronze color.
DHA interacts with the amino acids in the skin and browns them similar to the way that a sliced apple changes color or bacon turns brown. It’s safe for topical use and the color lasts for approximately as long as a natural tan – about a week. Moreover, it fades naturally.
The downside of using tanning mousse is that you really need to go easy on patches of dry skin like elbows, knees, knuckles, and heels. These spots tend to turn darker. If you can exfoliate and moisturize those areas for a few days before self-tanning, you’ll get better results. Plus, save them for the last swipe with whatever is left of the mousse on the applicator after you’ve done the rest of your body.
It contains caramel, an instant cosmetic bronzer that shows you at a glance where you’ve already applied the product. This will wash off, too, when you shower. If you wait a couple of minutes before dressing to let it dry, it shouldn’t rub off on clothes.
Can you apply self-tanner with latex gloves?
So, back to the question about how to apply mousse without a mitt…Yes, you can use rubber gloves. Some people swear by them because they completely protect the hands from staining. (Sometimes the cheaper mitts leak).
What’s more, gloves don’t waste product because they don’t absorb it. They are easy to wash as well. Just rinse and let them drip dry.
One self-tanning pro explains how to do the back of the hands when using gloves. She recommends finishing the entire body, then removing one glove. Use the remaining glove to rub the mousse into the back of the exposed hand. Allow the treated hand to dry and put a glove back on it. Finally, remove the glove from the untreated hand and apply the mousse there.
St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist
Is there ever a time that you can apply self-tanner with your hands? Certainly, especially you use gradual tanning lotion or a water-based facial tanner like this one. It comes out in a very fine mist that requires little to no spreading with fingers. This is the easiest way to apply self-tanner to your face.
We love this spray because it doesn’t have to be rinsed, it doesn’t streak or go orange, and it doesn’t stink. Within a few hours, it develops a sun-kissed glow. Just as important, it can be worn both over and underneath makeup.
Happily, it’s non-comedogenic and gentle on sensitive skin, plus it’s infused with antioxidants and moisturizers from Mandarin orange and hyaluronic acid.
Can you apply self-tanner with a towel?
Yes, you can apply sunless tanning mousse with a towel and that’s what many people do on their backs. A folded hand towel can help you spread the product in places you can’t reach with your hands.
Unfortunately, there is a downside – a towel absorbs a lot of the mousse, leading to waste. You might be better off investing in a specialized applicator. Or try the next trick below.
Can you use cling wrap to apply self-tanner?
Yes, plastic wrap is a little more awkward but works just as well as using latex gloves to spread sunless tanner on the skin. Wrap it around your hand and get to work.
If you tear off a foot and a half strip and fold it two or three times, you can use it to put tanning mousse on your back. It’s a DIY back tanning mitt! What’s nice is that the plastic won’t soak up and waste the product.
Can you use socks to apply tanning mousse?
We suspect that you read our minds. We uncovered several discussion threads where people explained how they use socks in the place of a mitt. It makes for more even coverage than they could get with gloves or plastic wrap.
The main con is that socks absorb the mousse and allow it to soak into the hands. The trick is to coat your hands in lotion to keep the skin there from absorbing the product while you take care of the rest of the body.
How to apply self-tanner without streaks
If your goal is a streak-free tan that looks as natural as possible, preparation is key. Keep your skin exfoliated and moisturized every day. Shave, but not right before as the tanning product may settle into pores.
On the day you plan to tan, let your skin dry completely before applying the mousse. You can put a little moisturizer on dry areas like knees and elbows, but make sure it absorbs completely before tanning. Every other place should be oil-free.
If you can cover your hands with a mitt or gloves, it prevents staining the palm of the hand and fingers. If you use a sock, lotion your hands first to keep the product from immediately soaking into the skin.
When you apply the tanner, use long strokes and try not to overlap. It’s much easier to see what you’re doing if the product contains a guide color, usually an instant bronzer like caramel.
Save elbows, knees, heels, and knuckles for when you finish the other parts and the applicator is almost dry. Just give them a quick swipe so that they don’t get too dark.
If you’ve overdone it on any part of your body, wipe that area with a damp paper towel. You can also use a damp paper towel or a makeup sponge to blend the tanning product into the hairline if you use it on your face and neck.
Once you’re done, wait 10 to 20 minutes before dressing or putting on perfume if possible. This allows everything to dry properly. If you must moisturize, use an oil-free lotion after the product has completely dried.
Avoid showering, swimming, and sweating (if possible) because moisture will prevent the tan from developing properly. That’s why express tanning products are handy because they only take one to four hours. Otherwise, consider tanning at night before bed. Most self tanners won’t rub off on the sheets once your skin has dried.
How to apply self tanner on the back
If you don’t have an applicator or a buddy to put it on your back, you can use a towel or a strip of cling wrap to distribute the product. If you’re a little flexible, you can try putting the mousse along your arm and the back of your hand and rubbing it in that way.
Another idea is to use a loofah on a stick. Failing that, the best solution might be a sunless tanning spray like the one below.
Neutrogena Micromist Airbrush Sunless Tanning Spray
Neutrogena’s self-tanning mist is like an airbrush in a can. The spray is ultra-fine and just a little goes a long way.
It may take a little practice, but it’s possible to apply it without using your hands to rub it in. Hold the can at least 6 inches away from the skin and spray less than you think you need. Think mist, not rainstorm.
On the bright side, the can sprays at any angle which is convenient for coating the back. It dries in about five minutes and takes a few hours to deepen the skin’s color.
There’s no strong odor and the formula isn’t oily and won’t clog pores. What’s interesting is that it has witch hazel, a natural astringent that moisturizes the skin. Sadly, it also has parabens and an artificial fragrance. Therefore, those with sensitive skin should use it with caution.
One container lasts for as many as four to five applications.
Beauty by Earth Sunless Tanning Lotion and Bronzer
Are there any self tanners that are safe for sensitive skin? We found this one that has no artificial fragrance, no parabens, and no harsh chemicals. The bulk of the formula consists of organic ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, pomegranate, and argan oil. It’s very moisturizing and super easy to apply.
If you don’t have a mitt, self-tanning lotion is the simplest to apply. You don’t have to worry about staining your hands because the lotion doesn’t absorb as quickly as mousse or serum. Just wash them once you’ve applied it.
Moreover, gradual tanning lotion has a lower concentration of DHA so it’s less likely to cause dryness or irritation. It may take you a few days instead of a few hours to build the perfect tan, but the same would be true of laying out.
If you’re new to sunless tanning, we highly recommend starting with a product like this one. It has a lovely natural fragrance, provides visible results, and requires no special tools to apply.
What’s the easiest way to apply self-tanner without a mitt?
Barring lotion, the next easiest way to apply self-tanner is with a tanning towel. You can find them in different sizes that can cover the whole body or just the face, for example.
They are infused with DHA, the essential sunless tanning agent. In most cases, they have no guide color so there’s no worry about staining towels or clothing. Just be sure to wash the palms of your hands and the fingertips once you’re done using one. (This keeps your skin from going orange on those parts).
Tan Towel Self Tan Towelette Classic
If you have fair to medium skin, this is the perfect self-tanning product. It’s one of our favorites as it’s travel-friendly and straightforward to use. It contains a clear liquid with DHA that starts developing color within 2 to 4 hours. The best results can be seen after a good night’s sleep. It looks flawless and natural from the color to the streak-free application.
Unlike applying tanning mousse, they suggest moving the towel in a circular motion to spread the solution anywhere on the body. We found that the towels are resistant to tearing and have enough liquid to get the job done head to toe on an average-size person. If you plan to do every nook and cranny, you might need two.
Furthermore, the liquid dries momentarily so that you don’t have to walk around naked for ten minutes before dressing.
Norvell Sunless Streak-free Self-Tanning Washable Applicator Blending Tan Mitt
This article has been about applying self tanner in alternative ways. But if you plan to use tanning mousse, it really is easier to have a mitt. This one is offered by the number one spray tanning brand in America. It’s way cheaper than other options, yet still machine-washable and durable. It helps blend any sunless tanning product for a seamless appearance.
We’re glad you’re thinking about sunless tanning today. It’s an excellent way to enjoy a gorgeous bronze. If you have more questions about self-tanning, or want to tell us about your experience, feel free to leave us a comment below.