Recipe for the Best Self Tanning Lotion…


A couple of years ago, I did tons of research on the best self-tanners on the market. I tried everything out there and nothing was even close to what I wanted. You know the standard wish list, a self tanner that doesn’t streak, doesn’t turn orange or yellowish, lasts longer than 5 minutes and doesn’t rub off on clothes. I even special ordered some self tanner from Canada that was “suppose” to be the best (sigh), talk about a waste of money. Really, all I wanted was a good self tanner that didn’t make me look like, well… an Oompa Loompa…

Just when I was about to give up, I stumbled on a skin care message board (can’t remember the website) and I saw a posting from someone who swore that she had discovered the best self tanner recipe that turned into a gorgeous natural color, lasts 5 days and gives amazing streak free coverage. Yea, right, heard that before! But, what really caught my attention were all the responses (at least 50) to her posting of happy ladies who had tried her recipe and came back to the message board to basically proclaim her the self tanning goddess of the mythical sun world. Hmmm… This is interesting.. Maybe I should try it? What the heck huh? Well I did, and boy was she right! I ran back to the board as fast as I could to pay my homage to this brilliant sun goddess as well. Finally, my search was over! Goodbye orange!

The crazy thing is that this recipe is super simple as you just mix two existing self tanning products together. Used separately, these two products are just ok, but something magical happens when you mix them together in equal parts. I have now used this recipe faithfully for a couple of years and it works beautifully every time, gives me a fabulous deep dark natural real tan color, never streaks and lasts for at least 5 days. I have shared this recipe with several friends of varying skin tones and all of them agree, it’s amazing and perfect! So what is this recipe? Here you go:

*****UPDATE 5/8/13!!  This is an old post and there has been a recent formula change with the L’oreal Sublime Bronze and it now has a shimmer/glitter in it and it has a strong odor!  While it’s not as amazing as the original mix, it does give a pretty color tan that is more natural.  However, it is a little greasier and takes longer to dry.


I mix equal parts of both products right in my hand before I apply. I mix enough for my legs and wash my hands. I then mix enough for my arms and then wash my hands, and I keep mixing and washing as I go along.

Keep in mind that both of these companies offer several variations of self tanning products on the market. When I haven’t been able to find the exact product above at the store, I have “substituted” with another one of their products and I have not had the same great results that I do with the exact products above. However, Banana Boat makes two colors in the Sunless Tanning line which include a light/medium color and Deep Dark Tan and both work perfectly but I only use Deep Dark Tan in the thick of summer because it is really dark. I have an olive complexion and the Deep Dark Tan is really dark and only use it when I am already tan in the summer to even out my tan. I highly recommend using the light to medium first because it’s pretty dark itself. Also, I do not use these products on my sensitive face.

You will not see the best results until about 12 hours later and unfortunately, the first day you will get that self tanner smell. I always put the self tanner on a day before I really need it.

A few other things that I do is that like all self tanners, I exfoliate first. If I don’t, I get patches of darker color and the tan will not last long. Also, even though these products are streak free, I blend and rub in as much as possible. It’s hard to see if you have these products blended but I just keep blending. I also moisturize faithfully everyday that I have my self tanner on to make it last longer.

Ok, so there you have it! Happy sunless tanning my friends!

I know that I have veered the last few postings from decor projects and I have a fun one coming up shortly. As always, thank you so much for your sweet comments, emails and notes! I really appreciate your feedback.

Have a fantastic week!

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81 Responses to Recipe for the Best Self Tanning Lotion…

  1. I'm excited to try this. I just hope it doesn't make me look bad having red hair and WHITE skin 🙂 Definitely staying away from the face and arms on my first try.
    Thanks for the tip.

  2. The Exchange says:

    I think you will be very happy with the results. Although, this is fairly dark, so for your first time you may want to use the bare minimum amount of lotion. Just enough to cover your skin. Be sure and come back and let me know what you think!

  3. I will be brave and try yet ANOTHER self tanner. Thanks for the tip.

  4. WobiSobi says:

    this is so great I use L'oreal Sublime.. now I am going to run out a get the other and try this for sure, So excited. Thank you for sharing this with us..

  5. I'm getting ready to go on vacation and can't wait to try this! Thanks for the tip.

  6. Cool. I'm excited to try this too. Will keep you posted. Thanks for "veering" off today!

    Connie (akalou)

  7. I'm definitely going to try this! 🙂 Thanks!

  8. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Becca says:

    This is SOOO funny! I do the EXACT same recipe! Love it!

  10. Thanks for the great tip!

  11. Diann says:

    I was just talking to my mom today at lunch and we were discussing whih self tanner we were going to try this year and keep our fingers crossed. I am excited to give this a try. My big problem areas are my ankles and elbows they always get "creased and streaked". Arghh!

  12. I love this!! I hate looking orange after self I will try this. If I turn out looking like an Oompa Loompa im coming back to tell you lol!

    Delighted Momma

  13. Veer all you want, this is a great tip! Sometimes we find out the best tips through our girlfriends (virtual or otherwise), so off-topic from time to time is welcomed!

    Thanks for sharing!



  14. Oh, the anticipation that I feel right now, awaiting my next trip to the drugstore to find these products and give this a shot!!

    I'm going to share this on my fb page too, in hopes that it really IS as wonderful as you say, so that everyone can benefit from this tip!!

    Thanks…. 🙂

  15. Lisalulu says:

    thank you this white white girl thanks you!

  16. Here On Crow Creek says:

    Thats what I do to! It really does work. I have no streaks at all. I am now using the banana boat dark with the gel.

  17. Thank you for sharing Ididnt know there was such a perfect mix out there. I pinned this. Come and say hi I love visitors

  18. Just saw you on Savvy Southern… I am definitely going to try this! Thanks!

  19. Judy says:

    That sounds great. I use Faux Tan by Bare Essentials and love it as well. I will try yours as well. Thanks for sharing at my Swing into Spring party.

  20. Cindy says:

    Wow, I'm going to give this a try…thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

  21. I love it. I already use the L'oreal product. I think I may have to try this. Now that it is sundress weather I need all the help I can get. How the heck did you ever think to mix them?

  22. I don't tan anymore, and I think lots of us miss having "color"…I am def going to try this recipe!

  23. Ok, my curiousity is piqued, so I will be giving this a try!

  24. Jill says:

    Just saw your blog for the first time on Savvy Southern Style. I can't wait to try this! Love your blog:)

  25. I am the whitest girl in the state of Florida and I have tried it all. I can't wait to see how this does. I have paid major bucks to get some color and haven't used fake tan in the last few years because it never works out. I will let ya know!

  26. thank you so much for sharing…i am excited to try this!!

  27. Mary Ellen says:

    I am going to try it! My legs don't tan at all- I don't have a problem with my arms – crazy huh!?

  28. Shelley says:

    I'll admit I'm scared, but will give it a shot anyways! Anything has to be better than looking like I forgot to put on pants when I'm actually wearing white bermudas 😀


  29. Jo says:

    YEAH!…just wrote down the products names,gonna give 'er try!

  30. Joycee says:

    OK, I'm trying this today! My poor old winter body is white, white, white. We haven't seen much sun this spring in the Ozarks and there's more rain on the way :o(

  31. I am going to try it too! I have to do something about my farmer's tan lines!

    JamieS@ Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom

  32. I have always loved Banana Boat the best. Something I do too is to mix tanning lotion with some regular inexpensive body moisturizer. It seems to help the tanning lotion cover easier and better

  33. Rachel says:

    Hooray! I use the banana boat one now, so I am excited to add to it. I live in Arizona, so in the summer, you only last about 10 minutes laying out in the 110+ degree weather! Even with my olive skin, I'm never as tan as I should be living in this climate

  34. thank you thank you thank you!! i will try this out and see if it works!!

  35. Congratulations, your Best Self Tanning Lotion made this week's top hits @ Thanks for sharing such a timely recipe with all of us…I'm on my way to the store and will report my before and after results. Keep calm and tan on!

  36. I'm excited to try this, but the true test will be if my legs break out in a rash from it like all the other self tanners I've tried in the past. Have you ever experienced that?

  37. Jacqueline says:

    Ok, this is on my list of things to do. I hopped over from Sining With Birds who recommended your post.

  38. I have used both of these great products separately — but never thought of putting them together! Thanks for the scoop! 🙂

    xoxo laurie

  39. Well, I'm going to give it a try!

  40. Kim says:

    Can't wait to try it!

  41. Jess says:

    I'm a fan of Beautisol's self tanners Summer Glow and All Seasons Glow! Banana Boat streaks easily on me 🙁

  42. Haley K says:

    i hopped on over from Under the Table and Dreaming…thanks for the tips!! I used to only use SPF 4 and even went tanning to get a nice glow (but haven't gone in a couple years:) and now I'm dedicated to using SPF 50 all the time (perspective changes once you have children;) But I still would LOVE a little color! SO THANK YOU FOR THIS POST 🙂 I'm going to add those two products to my grocery list for tomorrow and hope they're there 🙂

  43. Thanks for sharing, I'll have to try it!!

  44. Congrads! This was the most viewed post at the Whatever Goes Wednesday party last week. I featured it today! Grab my "featured" button.

  45. I'm really eager to try this! I have tons of self-tanners in my bathroom now because I also could never find one I like, although, the Loreal one you mention has been my fave so far! Who would have ever though of mixing them together?! Thanks for sharing!

  46. I can't wait to try this! I already have the first one, but I think it stinks!!!

  47. Susan says:

    I have a question…..You mentioned that you don't use the Dark color with the Banana Boat product to start off with. What color do you start off with in the L'Oreal? I see that they have a light/med and a dark color. Do you use the lt/med L'Oreal and the lt/med Banana Boat?

    • Julie says:

      I have the same question. I found the lt/med L’Oreal and the lt/med Banana Boat, but not a deep dark L’Oreal or deep dark Banana Boat. (i even double checked all the price tags on the shelf). Will this combo work? I’m running in a race on Saturday and want some nice tan legs:) Thanks!

  48. Anonymous says:

    I don't have sensitive skin…could i still use it on my face? or would it come out completely fake looking?

  49. Chiara says:

    Like so many, I truly appreciated this post! I am so scared of self tanning–having orange and streaky flashbacks. . . Ah! I am on a quest to find the ingredients. I found the L'Oreal at Target but still am trying to find the Banana Boat. Thank you for the tip! I shared your blog and this post on my Friday Favorites today. I hope others come visit your great blog! Have a wonderful weekend . . .

  50. Anonymous says:

    i tried this recipe and asked my kids "what color am i"…..they said mom you have orange skin!! Guess it doesn't work for me 🙁

  51. Tried it and LOVE it! Everyone thought I looked so tan after our beach vacation, but most of it was "faux."

  52. tara says:

    I am always trying different self tanners and already have both of these in my bathroom so I cant wait to try it!!

  53. Sue says:

    I used L’oreal’s self tanner and was really happy with it, but i really want darker and bolder results. I’ll buy the other one and try it out. Can’t wait! I’m already a tan color because I’m middle eastern, so i think i might just buy the darker banana boat stuff. Hopefully that’s a good idea.

    • Cyndy says:

      I think you’ll like it a lot better Sue! I too am olive and the darker mix is closer to our tanned skinned color and you will be blown away by the streak free coverage. It really doesn’t look it’s best until the next day, so do it a day ahead of when you really want it. I did last week and its still on and looks great! Please come back and tell me what you think! Thanks for stopping by!!

  54. Lisa says:

    This recipes sounds great, but I haven’t heard anyone say whether or not it comes off on your clothes or bed sheets. I heard that using a bronzer can cause this to happen. Any thoughts???

    • Cyndy says:

      Pretty much all self tanners are going to come off a tad on sheets. I don’t get a lot but I do find a little here and there. It all comes out in the wash. Thanks for stopping by Lisa!

  55. Jackie says:

    You said you do not use this mix on your face. Is there another self tanner that you would recommend for the face?

    • Cyndy says:

      I haven’t been able to find a self tanner for my face yet. I have such sensitive skin on my face and I have broken out from everything so far. I would love to find one! Thanks for stopping by Jackie!

  56. My daughter is getting marry march 2nd i want to try the self tanner..i just hope hope it does streaks or turn me daughter will kill me if i come in and I’m all orange..and can i used the tanner on my face..please help!!!

    • Cyndy says:

      I would highly recommend that you do a trial run on your legs as soon as possible just to make sure you are happy with it Patty! I would also recommend going with the light/medium for wedding so you are not too dark, even if you are dark complected. I cannot recommend either way about putting it on your face as I break out from all self tanners on my face. Again, you still have time to do a trial run and I would make sure that I was comfortable with it ahead of time. Good luck Patty and congratulations!!

  57. Stephanie says:

    I think that L’Oreal has changed their formula. 🙁 I used to get the sublime one all the time!!! Like I went through I know 5-6 tubes of it. And one day I bought it and it smelled different, like old man cologne… and I could tell the next day after I showered that it doesn’t last as long. 🙁 I use the fakebake flawless now with out the mitt and it works GREAT!

    • Cyndy says:

      Yes Stephanie, I too think in the last few months the formula has changed some. It still works well for me when I mix the two products together but I noticed the change in the scent. Thanks for stopping by!!

  58. J says:

    Hello! I just purchased these two ingredients, but I got sublime Bronze in Medium and not dark….have you tried this? Did it pan out? thanks!

  59. Kaitlyn Smith says:

    I’m going to try this but has anyone ever tried it on their face? I’m naturally dark in the summer but my face doesn’t seem to tan the way I want. I’ve done the tanning bed been outside everything but still my face stays pale. I used to get so dark in the summer as a kid. Makeup makes me orange even in the right shade or makes me look plaer then the rest of my body. Anyone know how to fix that? cause my husband hates me to tan at the tanning salon and I fell beter dark and not pale but when my body is tan and my face isnt kinda awkwars. Can someone help with a solution to my face not tanning?

    • Marie says:

      I use this on my face and am happy with the results. It darkens a bit much throughout the day, but looks nice after I rinse it off before bed. Be careful with the hairline and ears. Blend Blend Blend!

  60. KK says:

    What do you use on your face?

  61. Kay says:

    Sounds awesome. I’ve also found using a tanning MITT really helps with application! ThAnKs!

  62. Scarlett says:

    For your face try a liquid self tanner. FakeBake Flawless is an example. Also Sally’s Beauty Supply has a few that come in an aerosol can. I clean my face and then use a light moisturizer. Apply liquid to a cotton pad and apply to face making sure you blend well on the jaw line and don’t miss your ears. Fake tan fades quickly from the face, and this is a simple application you can do as needed.

  63. Al says:

    Ok, girls! Tried it.
    I am caucasian, brunette, so not very-very pale, and tan easily. Still, my legs are pale, or should I say, were. The mix gave my skin a natural quite dark tan. Two problems: it looks streaky the next morning (although applied with a good quality mitt, and have been fake tanning for quite some time now), as opposed to a nice even application with Banana Boat Summer Color. Also, L’Oreal is sticky, sparkly, and STINKY! Yuck! I have no idea what happened to Sublime Bronze, and why, but I agree with the previous commenter – it stinks like an old men cologne! There is no other way to describe it. I put it on, and later in the evening was watching a movie with my husband, who suddenly went, “What is this smell… like a cologne?” 8-] It is strong.
    So, a dark, a bit streaky tan and smelling like a funky men cologne (and it did not fade the next day either), or a shade or two lighter, but smelling clean… that is not a tough choice for me. :0)

    • Cyndy says:

      Hi Al! I’m pretty sure there has been a formula change with the L’oreal Sublime Bronze recently. I agree, now it stinks more than ever and has some strange body glimmer in it. Last week, I switched and mixed it with the Sublime Bronze Tanning LOTION and it made a huge difference. Wasn’t as smelly and I got a beautiful tan but not quite as pretty as I use to get with the old formula. The other problem is the lotion is greasy and takes longer to dry. However, there is no body glitter in the lotion.

      Thank you for your comments and I’m going to update this old post and let everyone know that there has been a formula change.

      • Al says:

        Oh, you are a doll, Cyndy!!!
        Thank you for your post and your reply! I will try it, and see, what happens. 🙂
        About formula switch: it happens everywhere. Clothes, shoes, bags, makeup. Companies are trying to cheapen the production to gain more profit. :[ I just do not understand, how adding some stink to a product can be cheaper then not to add anything at all. I honestly missed that self-tanner smell when I started spreading Sublime Bronze. 8)
        Thank you for update, again! Happy tanning! 🙂

  64. Hope says:

    Does this work if you’ve started useing a self tanner and have orange spots? Going to Florida next week and need to fix my orange problem.

  65. Maggie says:

    Could you possibly post a picture of the lotion that you use now that the formula has changed? I do not want to get the wrong bottle.

  66. Maggie says:

    Could you post a picture of the lotion that you use since the formulas changed? I would like to know what the bottle looks like so I don’t accidentally get the wrong one. All the stores near me don’t sell anything from that company with the word lotion in the title. Thank you!

  67. Morgan says:

    This recipe worked perfectly for me! Love it! Thank you so much!

  68. terri says:

    i hear cocoa brown is wonderful. i believe you can get this at amazon for the one hour tan… my friend has it and looks real.

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