Healthy Sunless Tanners

You may be surprised to find that many of your favorite conventional sunless tanners are filled with nasty ingredients that can cause a disruption to your endocrine system or give you an allergic reaction.

For several years, I have been on the hunt to find a healthy alternative to conventional sunless tanners. They aren’t easy to find but I have found a few that work well.

Like most of you, I’ve used tanning lotions that gave me orange and streaky legs and tanning lotions that smell horrible.

I’m not an expert but I’ll share with you what I use and how I apply it. I DO NOT do tanning beds ever! I have two that I have used and one I recently purchased.  

1. Vita Liberata (4 stars on Amazon) is a non-toxic self-tanning mousse and is free of parabens, perfume, alcohol, and all chemicals of concern and it also contains Odor Remove technology to ensure that you don’t get that gross self tanner scent (and it totally works by the way!).

I really like this mousse. It comes in three different shades, light, medium and dark. I am using the medium. It does NOT smell.

I apply this one 3 times in a 2 to 3 day period and it lasts for about a week.

2. Beauty by Earth (4 1/2 stars on Amazon) has no phthalates, parabens, artificial fragrances, or anything else that has the potential to harm your health. It has the best natural and organic ingredients out there.

Beauty by Earth is a white lotion and it comes in one shade and tans dark. I mix a small amount of regular lotion when applying this one because it gets dark. It has a very light smell of aloe vera. I barely notice any scent at all. I apply it one time and it lasts 3 to 4 days.

3. Eco Tan Invisible tan-(4 1/2 stars on Amazon) I have not used this one yet but I have ordered it. I will let you know what I think soon!

How I apply my self tanner:

  • The day before I use my self tanner (or you can do this the night before),  I use my coconut oil and sugar scrub to exfoliate my body. (I make this at home with coconut oil and I use organic sugar because it’s coarse.)
  • The next day I apply a thin, even layer to small sections at a time. I apply it to each leg in three sections (ankle/foot, lower leg area, upper leg area). I do the same for may arms, small sections. Make sure you get the back of your arms and your chest.
  • I don’t apply self tanner to my face. I’m picky about what I put on my face and I don’t like the way they feel. I use foundation and Bare Minerals bronzer.
  • Using a mitt helps the lotions go on smoother and helps it not stain your palms.

Are you ready to start using sunless tanners?

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Beauty for the Heart~~Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (The Message)

The best cure when you’re feeling down? Seek God!

Have a blessed day!

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Tell Me What You Think! leave a comment...

  1. I have tried some of the tanners you have suggested. They are great. My problem is I have large pores on my legs. I exfoliate with with sugar and coconut oil. Then shave. Then apply tanner. Is there anything that you know to do to make my pores smaller. When I apply the tanner and it gets darker it looks like I have not shaved my legs. I guess the tanner gets in my pores and makes it look that way. It is so frustrating. I would appreciate any help.

  2. I quickly scanned the comments to make sure I wasn’t giving duplicate info. I’ve used L’Oreal’s Sublime Bronze Tanning Towlettes with great success. They come in a box about 5″x5″. After applying, it works best to distribute the same way you would apply a tanning lotion to ensure an even application. I found out about these at the salon and was surprised how many friends were already using them. The best thing is they can be found at most drug stores.

  3. Susan, I am new to your blog and have enjoyed it so much. I wanted to ask if you feel like any one of the 3 self tanners are more organic than the other? I have had melanoma and basales cell so I have not tanned in several years. I am fair and blonde and did tan up to my skin cancer. Unfortunately, I have tried many self tanners and they also make me itch especially the more area’s I apply lotion to. I usually test an area. I have tired at least 12 but not any of the ones you recommend. I would love to order one of them and appreciate your feedback or if anyone else has also had any sensitivities and used on of the successfully, please let me know. Thanks so much.

  4. I have been using the Vita Liberata for about 7 months. I like it cause it is easy to use and it looks natural. But in the past few months, I seem to have issues behind my knee area wtih itching. So I stopped using it and the itching went away. So not sure why I have problems there. My arms and chest don’t itch. I may try the other products you suggested.

  5. Have you had any problems with any of these sunless tanners transferring the color to clothing or furniture? I want to try these but I am known to spend time on my sofa while wearing shorts and I worry about color rubbing off.

    1. Lisa……..I have worried about that too since moving here we have the natural colored sofa that was in the LR at our other home and is in the family room here. What I do after applying self tanner & watching tv is spread a quilt that we use in the winter to wrap up in on the sofa and if it does, it will get washed out. So far no problems.

  6. Last year when you did a similar post I ordered Vita Liberata right away. I am very fair and have tried many tanners. This is by far the best self tanner I have ever used. I love that it doesn’t smell like the others! As with any tanner, thorough exfoliating is a must. Thanks for getting me onto this product. It is a little pricey BUT it lasted me all summer. I need to get started for a Florida spring break trip soon!.

  7. I have just started to think about this with our recent 80+ degree days here. I just packed up my boots yesterday and will be unpacking all my sandals and short soon, so I need to start trying these out! I did try several new ones last year but none that I really loved. Thanks for the recommendations!

  8. My husband just has skin cancer removed from his face – 40 stitches. Our daughter is very fair, and she has reacted with hives every time she has tried a self tanner. Our family has just decided to be pale and happy;) Thanks for the organic tips though! We will try those. Blessings.

  9. I use the Beauty by Earth that you recommended last year and really like it. Just ordered more so I’ll be ready when it warms up enough for short sleeves. Funny story…last year the first time I put it on I didn’t think it was doing anything so after a couple of hours I put it on again. Oh my! I looked hilarious I was so dark. And of course since I wanted it to come off quickly it wouldn’t. Everyone, be sure and wait about four hours for it to fully develop😂

  10. Thank you for sharing natural self-tanning products. I had melanoma removed in my leg two years ago (spent my twenties in tanning booths & on the beach) so I’m a shade dweller now! Being naturally fair, I rely on self tanners to get color. Eager to try one of these!

  11. Thank you for your message. Its just what I needed to hear today. There is so much hate in our country today. So much that it ways heavy on my heart. Pray for our leaders and our country.

    1. I agree, so thankful for the word of God. I have felt down hearted myself today with tears…so when I read cyndi’s scripture for the day it spoke to me to keep my thoughts on the Lord!

  12. I’ve been using the Jergens and was happy with the results. But, now I think I should try a more natural product. I’ll be trying one of your recommendations.

  13. Thanks for sharing and I really need to purchase a self tanner. My husband keeps teasing me about my white legs.
    And I would like my 20yr old daughter to stop going to the tanning bed every spring, so maybe she would be willing to try one of these? Thanks so much for sharing and looking forward to your Spring fashion tips.

  14. Hi Cyndi – dumb question here but do you apply self tanner to your torso or only your arms and legs? I would never be able to get my back (or not all of it)! If you do your back, how do you get a streak free application?

  15. Oh my! Always something new to be concerned about! What are the chemicals I should avoid? I have a couple of self tanners in my cabinet (Rodan + Fields, Younique, and Jergens) and need to go read those labels!

  16. Cyndi, after reading your post about your favorite self tanners last year, I tried Vita Liberata Tinted Tan Mousse and loved it!! It dries really fast, never got on my clothes, and did not smell bad (seriously!). I’m fair and the color was just enough. There are actually two versions of the mousse. One lasts for 2-3 weeks ($54) and the other lasts about 3-5 days ($30). I bought a trial size kit that Ulta had last year that included the mousse and the Trystal Minerals Self-Tanning Bronzing Minerals (with application brush included). The Trystal Minerals are wonderful, and I use this on my arms, shoulders, chest, or anywhere I want a little color or touch up. Like you, I don’t like to use self tanners on my face, so the minerals are a great solution. BTW, the minerals will wash off in the shower, which is great when I want a temporary hint of color even in the winter. Thanks so much for all your posts and recommendations!

  17. I use Beauty by Earth and have had very good results. I am almost 67 years old and must be careful not to add too much color and add on more years.

  18. Thanks for sharing about using sunless tanners. I have always been afraid to try them since I am fair, but now I think I will give it a try. The verse was perfect for me today as I am struggling with the ups and downs of my husband’s unemployment. The verses you share always seem to be very timely.


  19. Let’s not forget that healthy sun exposure is a good thing. The sun is life giving, not something to be avoided. Of course we don’t let ourselves get burned, but many naturopaths and even conventional doctors are now changing their stance on avoiding the sun. We are so Vitamin D deficient, plus we put chemicals all over our body to get tanned! I know, balance and moderation is the key. Just thought I would share one link:

  20. PS So good to know the ones you use come out of your sheets or clothes. The one I’ve used before stains my white cami’s/shirts and sheets. 🙁

  21. Thanks Cyndi. Perfect timing. I had just looked back in your archives last night and finally found the post on the 2 sunless tanners you liked. I want to order one of them, but not sure which one. I read the reviews and what you said, but wondering which one would be best for fair skin. The Vita one sounds like the fair would be too fair. Most people in the reviews think they needed the dark to get any color. I believe you said you used medium? If you could say which one you like the best, which one would you say? I do like the idea that the Vita one has NO smell. I really don’t like the tanner smells. After 50, its nice to have some color for not only the fair skin, but the veins that are starting to show through. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and I probably will start with one you recommended, later in March or April. Probably at least by Easter Sunday. 🙂 Its usually too cold around here to go bare legs too soon.

    1. Kathy, I use the Vita Liberata in medium.. I like it a lot. I am fair with lots of freckles all over, big and small. I never tan, just sunburn because of my fair skin. I have reddish brown hair. It does not color deep, and looks really non-fake on my pale skin. Hope this helps.

  22. I loved your post- thanks for the tips! Ive been tanning for years and I still struggle to make it look natural on my hands. Do you have a particular way that you apply it without looking obvious that you’ve tanned your hands? Thank you! 🙂

  23. I am a 61 year old blonde turning gray with very fair skin and I want to just offer a thought. If you are fair, embrace it, work with it, and never, ever use derogatory terms such as “pasty” to describe your skin. I try to wear colors that complement my skin tone and forget about trying to be something I am not. Makes me much happier! Thanks for letting me stand on my soapbox and thank you for your fun and inspirational blog. Love it!

    1. Polly, I am right there with you. I’ve always said that if God meant for me to be darker skinned, He would have made me that way. You expressed the way I feel in a very eloquent way, so thank you!

    2. My daughters are very fair and we live in Florida. I tell them they are pale, porcelean princesses. I do like to self tan starting in late spring, and the safer product recommendations are appreciated.

  24. Have you ever tried the mystic or spray tanning booths? This year I broke down and purchased a monthly membership and go about once a week. I’ve had more success with that than any other artificial tanners, but wondered if there was a health concern that I should be aware of?
    I usually put some tissue in my nose to act as a filter from breathing the chemicals, but otherwise, it’s the best tan I’ve had.

  25. I love sunless tanners! and yes, exfoliation is a must. I haven’t tried any of those you have listed but I may. My go to for over 12 years has been FakeBake and I haven’t looked at the ingredient list – probably should. I guess my thought was at least I wasn’t baking in the sun, but you’re right, the ingredients could be nasty.
    Thanks for the great recommendations b/c I really dislike my uber-white body right now :-).

  26. I used Vita Liberata last year and loved it. It is easy for me to apply evenly because it is a tinted mousse.
    Looking forward to your and Jo-Lynne’s 27 Days of Spring Fashion.

  27. So looking forward to Spring Fashion Cyndi, I’m ready for it, however I think it will be awhile before I can bare flesh!
    I always self tan though.
    Nicky xx

  28. Questons questions questions. LOL. So like Julia I have very white legs (and all the old age stuff that goes along with them – ha). I have tried some sunless tanners in the past but they ALWAYS turn orange. I don’t know if that’s just my skin type or what.

    So my questions …
    1. “IF” you tanned naturally in the sun – do you tan easily? I cant decide if this is the reason I turn orange because my skin just doesn’t tan well.
    2. You mentioned how long these last but what happens if you swim or bathe or sweat? Does it come off sooner?
    3. So … if you do sweat – I live in Texas so you know we do – will it rub off on the underside of clothes?

    Would LOVE to look just a little tan but very afraid because of all of the above …


    1. Sorry Gina if you got the first email that was for another commenter. Ha!

      I have an olive skin tone and if I lay out in the sun I tan easily and I can get very dark. I haven’t done that in years.

      I shower everyday and they might come off quicker but I do apply them often in the summer months. The only time I notice they come off when I’m sweating is if I sweat at night and they do get on my sheets. I change my sheets more often in the spring and summer because of that.

      They do get on my white camis sometimes but I wear cheap ones in the spring and summer.

      I think you have to be willing to take the negatives if you want a little bit of a glow with self tanners. If they get on my clothes or sheets, they do come off when I wash them.

      Hope that helps!

  29. You bring up such a good point, Cyndi!
    There are lots of “bad” ingredients in many of our products and it can be hard to find a natural replacement.
    I finally gave up trying to look tan about 10 years ago. But I think this concept can hold true even for our makeup and beauty products!
    I’m going to try out a this Think Dirty box that is supposedly more natural. I’ll let you know what I discover!!

  30. Thanks for the recommendations! I wrestle every spring with wanting to wear skirts or dresses but showing my shockingly white legs (and all their faults!) deter me. I haven’t tried sunless tanners but I could see that that would be a good bridge until your legs are ready for their public debut!