Self-Tanning 101

Hello everyone, and welcome to your glow-up masterclass! It’s that wonderful time of year again when shorts and tank tops are making their reappearance. Coming out of winter and a year spent mostly indoors, finding the right self-tanner is a great way to make your favorite summer clothes pop against “sun-kissed” glowy skin.


Step one: Prep

The key to a flawless finish is prepping the skin. Regardless of whether you’re using a gradual or express tan, exfoliating with a sugar or salt scrub is a must before applying self-tanner. After buffing away the dead skin cells, it is recommended to use a body wash that is non-moisturizing. This simply means to use a gel rather than a creamy, milky body wash. But not to fret, you won’t lose out on any skin hydrating benefits, as the self-tanning products listed below contain skin-loving ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and coconut oil.


Tools of the trade: Applicator Mitt

For the best results, you’ll need to apply your self-tanner with an applicator mitt. For lotion and mousse formulas, apply self-tanner directly onto an applicator mitt, and sweep over the skin using circular motions.  If you’re using an oil or a spray, apply directly on the skin before going in with the mitt. This is the best application method for an even, streak-free tan. We have them in two different sizes for the face and body.



Choosing the right self-tanner:

Two major differences between self-tanning products are whether you’re seeking a gradual tan or a tan that develops within hours. Gradual tan products are used as a daily moisturizer, building the pigment up with every use and then using it periodically to maintain the color. For those of you who are beginners or just want to see what self-tanners are all about, this is a great place to start! If you’re ready to go all-in, traditional self-tanners offer various formulas and shade variations. These types of self-tanners develop in around four to eight hours, and most require to be washed off after developing.


Gradual self-tanner for the face:

St. Tropez Everyday Face Cream

Suitable for all skin tones, this lightweight face cream is enriched with hydrating essentials such as Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin E. Perfect for my blemish-prone and sensitive skin gals, as it is formulated without pore-clogging ingredients!

Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster

Your moisturizers new best friend! Add two to three drops to your favorite daily moisturizer for a lit within glow that develops with each use. PS: There is a version of this for your body as well!


Gradual self-tanner for the body:


Coola Organic Gradual Sunless Tan Firming Lotion (New & Noteworthy!)

The triple threat: Tan, Tone, & Tighten! This really is the body lotion that does it all. Not only does it provide a beautiful golden glow, but the list of the organic ingredients is incredibly impressive (Baobab Oil harvested from the mythical “Tree of Life,” fortified with vitamins A, D, and E? Yes, please). Also, if you’re someone who is strongly offput by the smell of self-tanners, this is the right one for you! The heavenly Pina Colada scent will transport your mind to warm, sunny beaches.


Traditional self-tanner:


St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse

The star of the St. Tropez brand! The multi-award-winning iconic Bronzing Mousse is offered in three different depths; Classic, Dark, and Extra Dark. The mousse is tinted to ensure there are no missed patches, thus leaving a flawless finish! Just one application lasts ten days.


Instant gratification meets lasting results:


Vita Liberata Body Blur

This product is known as the “Instagram filter in a tube,” and it is no lie! Body blur works its magic by minimizing blemishes and covering imperfections for an HD-ready skin finish. What makes this product so unique is that it gives skin a glowy, flawless finish immediately upon application but also has staying power post-shower. This is my go-to product when I’m in between self-tanner applications and spur-of-the-moment plans arise! It’s perfect to use just minutes before you dress because it is quick-drying, and there is zero transfer to your clothes.


Self-tanner alternative:

Searching for the glow of a self-tanner without the commitment? This wash-off alternative has you covered!


St. Tropez One Night Only Finishing Gloss

Perfect for a special occasion, photoshoot, or date night! Finishing Gloss gives the skin an instant high shine and luminous effect. It’ll last all day and night and comes off in the shower with soap and water. Application is a breeze, and no mitt is required!


Still, have questions on which product is best for you? Come by, and we can talk all things self-tanner!


  • The latest from Jennifer

Located in historic Old Town Alexandria, for more than 17 years Bellacara has been Northern Virginia's preeminent boutique for high end cosmetic, skincare and haircare products. At Bellacara you will find premiere beauty products that have been carefully edited by the store’s owner, Angela Sitilides, who personally tests all the products sold in store. The boutique carries only the best product lines – Kiehl’s, Jouer, Dr. Dennis Gross, Christophe Robin, Moroccan Oil, Bumble & Bumble, Fresh, Molton Brown, Skinceuticals, Smashbox, Stila, Mario Badescu, Clarins, Dermalogica, Kevyn Aucoin, Kai, Child, St. Tropez, Smith and Cult, and many more.

1000 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


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