DIY Self-Tanner

It's the middle of winter.

This time of year is normally characterized by dry skin, chapped lips, and pale skin-- just a few of our favorite things!

While real suntans are really just signs of skin damage, fake tans are actually really safe and make you feel pretty great when it's 20 degrees outside. We've listed out the steps for our favorite DIY Self-Tanner that leaves your skin feeling soft and smelling delicious.

The best part? it's 100% natural and can be made from just 3 ingredients found in your kitchen!




First, bring your 16 oz of water and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract to a boil. Pour over tea bags and let steep for at least 8 minutes. Once steeping is complete, discard of the tea bags and give your DIY self-tanner plenty of time to cool. This could take half an hour or more but is worth waiting unless you want to spray nearly-boiling tea on your legs, which I did, and it was horrible (learn from my mistakes).  Once it's cooled pour it into a spray bottle. You can buy cheap ones at Walmart, Home Depot, or your local grocery store.


There are a few steps to take before you apply the homemade self-tanner. First, make sure your skin is exfoliated. scrubbing your body in the shower usually does the trick-- make sure you give the target areas (legs and/or arms) a good scrub with a washcloth a few hours before you need to use your tanner. I say this because I did not do it, and I wished that I had. I will next time. It’s also a good idea to moisturize your skin. Moisturizing your skin will make it easier to get a good, even skin tone (I actually did this!)

After your skin is primed and your DIY self-tanner has cooled and been poured into a spray bottle, it’s time to apply it. Spray the liquid where you want it to go and rub in thoroughly with a washcloth (or your hands). When I had rubbed it on evenly and let it dry, I added another layer. I did this four or five times, which sounds like a lot, but the tanner dried quickly. I didn’t spend more than ten or fifteen minutes applying it.

Recipe Alterations

This recipe worked well for fair skin, but darker-skinned folks might want something stronger. The ratio used here was 1 tea bag to 2 ounces of water, but for a stronger solution, you could use a 1:1 ratio. The regular recipe calls for steeping the tea for 8 minutes, but steeping it longer would definitely result in a darker solution. One thing I would not do is to add more vanilla, though, because that will result in a sticky solution. 

Okay, but does it really work?

It does! It gives your skin a really nice, natural glow and it smells delicious! It’s not perfume or anything, but if you’ve ever suffered through the burnt chemical smell of store-bought tanner, you will agree that this homemade tanner has a much more pleasant aroma.

Keep in mind, tea is perishable-- it's best to keep this self-tanner in the fridge in a glass container and to use it all up in just a few weeks. If you find that you aren’t using all of yours before it goes bad, consider cutting the recipe in half.

(Safe) Tan on!