Listen, I absolutely love self-tanning mitts, in fact, I wrote up a guide of the best ones, but sometimes we don’t have that luxury. So in this quick guide, I’m going to cover three of the absolute best ways to apply self-tanner without a mitt.
5 Simple Ways To Apply Self-Tanner Without A Mitt
Self-tanning mitts provide a ton of convenience, and you will probably end up getting a slightly better tan once you learn to use them. So, if you’re interested in trying them out, check out my guide on self-tanning mitts.
Many people opt to just use their hands, which is absolutely an option. However, using your hands can lead to orange hands and a slightly less even hand. Don’t worry though, if you’re planning to use your hands, we’ll talk about a few tips down below to do it effectively.
If we don’t have a mitt around, the best thing to do is actually try and replicate the benefits the mitt provide with things we already have around our house. So, let’s talk about a few of those.
Also, stick with me until the end, I have some great tips to apply self-tanner without a mitt, and get the perfect tan!
Sounds a bit silly right? However, using a rubber glove actually works quite well for a ton of people, in fact, a narrow few actually prefer it. The problem with some self-tanning mitts (or other alternatives) is that they absorb quite a bit of the self-tanner.
This not only wastes it but can cause it to apply a bit unevenly.
Simple rubber gloves (like these ones from Amazon) won’t absorb any of your sunless tanning product, allowing you to get the full value out of it.
Many fake tanning mitts also don’t have finger holes, in fact, almost none of them do. This works great for most of your body, but harder to tan places it can make it a bit tough. Rubber gloves work great for these areas giving us a ton of flexibility.
Rubber gloves also work well for self-tanning because you can simply wash the product off afterward. If your self-tanner doesn’t contain any bronzer or guide color, nothing should stick to the glove at all, allowing you to use it over and over again.
They also won’t allow any of the product to get to your hands, so you don’t need to worry about vigorously washing them afterward to prevent that orange color!
This is another fan favorite for applying self-tanner. Many socks can actually work pretty much like a mitt, allowing you to apply self-tanner without over-tanning your hands.
It’s usually best to turn your sock inside out, apply the self-tanner directly to your skin, and then spread it out using the sock. You’ll probably find that with a sock, the tan goes on a bit smoother than it does with a rubber glove since there is almost always some product being held by the fabric.
Think of painting a wall with a roller vs. a spatula (ok, that is a terrible analogy, but you get the point), the roller will always have some product, allowing it to go on nice and evenly.
I’ll also mention that if you stroll around tanning forums online like I do (weird, I know), you’ll find that tons of women actually like to use slipper socks like these ones for applying their self-tanner.
They tend to be a bit thicker and will protect your hands a bit better. However, one of the benefits of using socks is that they are inexpensive and can easily be replaced after a few uses.
However, be careful if you’re using your socks, or someone else’s, that you don’t ever use them on your feet again. Even after going through the wash (which you should never do) self-tanner can be left on them. There is a hilarious number of photos online these days of people who ended up with extremely tanned feet.
3. Use Your Hand
I know, sounds scary right? However, this is how the vast majority of people start to apply fake tanner, and I think everyone is ok.
In fact, using your hands to apply sunless tanner can actually work really well, you just want to make sure you do it the correct way. So first, do your normal routine: shower, exfoliate, shave, moisturize etc. (I don’t want to go too deep into this here because I’ve written about it so much).
After you’ve done all your prep, go ahead and pump some self-tanner (I like this one from Amazon) into your hands and apply liberally, but evenly, to your entire body. Make sure that the dryer areas such as your knees, elbows, ankles, etc. don’t receive too much self-tanner.
Once you’re happy with the spread of your tanner, it’s time to wash your hands right away!
The best way to do this is with a fairly rough exfoliator like a sugar or sand scrub. Rub it vigorously to really scrub off the self-tanner before it has time to set in. If you do this pretty much right away and do a thorough job with it, you really shouldn’t end up with any self-tanner left on your hands.
Make sure you don’t skip this step though, I’ve seen (and experienced) my fair share of orange hands!
4. Try Using Cling Film
I know, I know, this one sounds really weird, but it actually works quite a bit better than you’d think. Take some simple cling wrap like Reynolds, wrap your hand in it completely, and you have yourself a make-shift fake tanning mitt.
Make sure you wrap your hand really well and don’t leave any exposed spots, but don’t wrap so tight that you cut off circulation! The smooth surface of the cling wrap will actually apply the self-tanner really well.
There are some people that actually prefer using this method over anything else, so I’d encourage you to give it a try!
You can see my full guide on using plastic wrap to apply self-tanner right here.
Self-tanning wipes are getting more and more popular every year, and for good reason, they are fantastic!
If you don’t have a mitt and aren’t happy with some of these other options, self-tanning wipes might be just the perfect fit. Lucky for you, I actually have a complete guide to the absolute best self-tanning wipes on the market that you can check out.
Basically, though, it’s just a high-quality self-tanner on a convenient towelette. They aren’t quite as cost-effective in the long run, so you’re trading dollars for convenience. They are perfect for travel, or to use before an event, or if you just don’t have a ton of time but want a fantastic summer glow.
They also apply really well since they are already on a towelette and you don’t have to just use your hand. Word of warning though, you still will want to scrub your hands really well after you use them to avoid any discoloration.
Alright, now that we’ve talked about how to apply self-tanner without a mitt, let’s talk about how to prep for it!
Remember that the work you do before you apply self-tanner can be just as important as the self-tanner itself!
How To Prepare To Apply Self-Tanner Without A Mitt
Now, no matter what you use to apply your self-tanner, preparing beforehand will make a world of difference.
I chatted with a tanning expert and asked her to tell me exactly what she does before applying self-tanner, and this is what she said:
One of the most important steps you can take before applying self-tanner is to thoroughly exfoliate your skin (see my complete guide here). Remember that the main ingredient in self-tanners is DHA. When DHA comes in contact with skin cells, it has a chemical reaction that creates pigment on the skin.
If you have dead skin cells, the tan can come out looking uneven or blotchy. Try not to use any oil-based exfoliants as they can create a film on the skin. Instead, either use something like a sugar scrub, or my preference, an exfoliating mitt.
I just use mine in the shower before I apply the self-tanner.
2. Careful With Waxing And Shaving
This one is important, especially when you’re applying self-tanner without a mitt. It’s really important to do any hair removal at least 24 hours before you apply the self-tanner.
When you shave or wax, it can inflame the skin and cause micro-cuts. You want the skin to completely calm down before you apply any product.
It’s also really important that you don’t wax or shave after you’ve applied fake tan! This defeats the whole purpose.
The DHA sits on the outside layer of your skin. If you shave right after the tan sets, you’ll just remove most of the tan and cause it to be streaky and blotchy.
3. Moisturizing The Right Way!
Moisturizing is the absolute key to making sure you’re self-tan lasts! Be sure to keep your skin thoroughly moisturized after you apply the self-tanner. If your skin dries out, it can flake unevenly and cause it to look unnatural. Check out my complete guide to moisturizing to learn more.
However, on the day that you plan to apply the self-tanner, try to avoid using any products like moisturizer, deodorant, or perfume. Any of these products can have odd reactions with the product.
4. Invest In Quality Products
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg, but self-tanner is one of those products where you really get what you pay for.
Now I don’t want to turn this article into a review of the best self-tanning products, but the one I’m currently using and loving is this self tanner on Amazon.
Not every product is perfect for every person, so it can take a bit of trial and error! Stick with it!
5. Cold Water!
This is a tip that you wont’ see just anywhere, but it has worked extremely well for me and others who have tried it.
If you take a shower right before applying fake tan or going to get a spray tan, blast your body with cold water right before you get out. Not only does this have health benefits, it also helps to close your pores and allow your tan to apply super seamlessly. It also helps make sure that the product doesn’t block any of your pores.
6. Give Your Face Extra Attention
When it comes to fake tanning, your face is what shows the most. It’s important to take your time when applying self-tanner to your face.
I personally like to mix a little bit of moisturizer with my self-tan. This helps it to apply more evenly and keep my pores from clogging. Whether you’re using one of my DIY self-tanning mitt suggestions above, or an actual mitt, just mix the two together right on the surface of whatever you’re using and then apply.
If you apply all of these tips before, during, and after you apply self-tanner, you’ll end up with a beautiful tan even if you don’t have a mitt.
Any of the ideas above make for great DIY self-tanning mitts, and are perfect solutions if you buy self-tanner and aren’t sure how to apply it.
You can apply fake tan just about any way you like. Although using a self-tanning mitt is one of the best ways you can go about it, you’ll probably get similar results with any of the tips I laid out above.
However you do it, just know that applying fake tan really does take a bit of practice, and you’ll get better the more you do it. As long as you prep well, choose a good product, and apply it evenly, you’re going to end up with a great tan.
If you have any questions at all, or need help from an expert, feel free to reach out! You can just email me at: [email protected].