If You Give a Mouse a Faux Tan

He’s basically never going to leave you alone


The old story goes that if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want a glass of milk. And that glass of milk is going to remind him of a song, which will remind him of the Jonas Brothers, and then he’ll want to visit New Jersey, or something like that. Who can remember. (If you can remember, remind me.) The point is that one thing triggers another, causing a chain reaction of events until the mouse is finally — finally — satiated.

I mean, he’s very high maintenance for a rodent.

But the same exact thing happens to me while I’m shopping online, and after reading Mattie’s story about her spray tan, it reminded me that I forgot to get mine for this weekend. Then it reminded me I need a new body scrub, and that meant a new loofah, and then a new lotion, and then it all spiraled….

Yes, the weather’s going to be shit, but still, I demand to be bronzed. With less than 24 hours to subtly brown myself, zero appointments available at Benefit (best spray tan award in my book if you have one near you), and despite my own self-described D.I.Y anxiety, I’m going to have to do this myself. Who’s with me?

So first thing’s first I’m the realest. Second thing’s first is we need to PREP. OUR. SKIN. If you don’t prep, you will be sorry. I apologize for threatening you but if you skip this step you’ll be threatening me later on when you look like a tiger and not in a good way. How do we prep? EXFOLIATION NATION.

If you wax, do it a day before, if you shave, do it right before applying tanner. Two super important notes: 1) shaving is exfoliating, so skip the scrub where you’ve shaved otherwise your legs will feel like they have a UTI. 2) Skip anything oil-based. Oil and faux tanner have drama with each other, and the oil will lesson the tan’s effect.

After you’ve scrubbed, dry off completely and apply lotion to the bottoms of your feet, your hands, and I what I like to call the Alien Areas: aka, your weenuses, the creepy bendy spot between heel and ankle, and your knees.

HERE IS SOMETHING I DO: I take a towel and wipe the lotion off my knees right after applying. That way only a little tan absorbs there — you don’t want it to look like you tanned with knee pads on, after all — but because it’s a dry area you want to make sure it’s hyper moisturized. Dryness = orange-u-glad-it’s-too-cold-to-wear-shorts-yet.

Now we tan. Never, ever, tan without a mit. This sponge glove will be your new skin color’s BFF because it offers even-application and eliminates orange paws. PRO TIP: stick your hand in a sandwich baggie, then put it inside the mit because often, a little solution will filter through.

As far as product goes, I swear by San Tropez. I use the foam when I need an emergency, immediate tan. I use the spray to maintain, or when I just want a little “glow.” (One layer, though guys. All you need is one layer.) The best part about San Tropez is when people ask, “Whoa, you wheredya get that tan?” You can be like, “Tan Tropez.” And it’s not a lie!

If you’re freaked about tanning, Jergins is ye old standby, and I honestly believe them when they say their new formula smells less. Less. The evil truth is that all tanners smell a bit like bread, but a lot of people like bread, so.

If you’ve tanned the night before, I recommend taking an AM shower. You’ll see some tanner run off — don’t worry, that’s the top coat. And besides, if you’re as white as I am, you want to look believably tan, not tangerine.

Once you’re officially sunkissed (but not sun-slobbered if you’ve followed my instructions!), a light touch with the makeup is key. All you need (if anything) is a tinted moisturizer, a dual cheek/lip tint, maybe a touch of powder bronzer (go easy on this, Baxter) and waterproof mascara.

Last but not least, it’s important to remember that a faux tan does not eliminate you from getting burned.

Sunscreen is still your friend, and hopefully, if your tan turned out well, then so am I.

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  • Thanks for all the extra tips!! I just ordered some self-tanner and am excited/nervous so hopefully if I follow all these steps I’ll be ok.

    The Fashionista Bubble

  • The tanning mitt is seriously a game changer. I remember having to eyeball it when I was younger…and didn’t use self-tanner again for almost 10 years because I looked like an orangey zebra!

  • GapToothedGirl

    I never try a self-tanner! Maybe that’s the right year…
    XOX, Gap.

  • boyfriendsandblazers

    St. Tropez is a saint. thats all.

  • as always, genius writing!

  • lavieenliz
  • s

    this was actually going through my mind today! i must be a bronze goddess dammit, and this weather is not permitting. i was going to go bed tanning…but this is definitely much safer

  • lionlionbazaar

    What I do, which i’ve always found full-proof, using spray tanner (whether it be st Tropez, or cheep dodgy le-tan) first pray my body all over, and the go ahead and moisturise right after, it blends perfectly and you dont go streaky.

  • Dominique
  • Andrea Cousiño Gonzalez


    NUEVO POST emn mi blog, hoy los looks de mis viajes!!


  • I love your references, if you give a mouse a cookie…. Brilliant

  • Lee

    this is amazing self-tanner! started using it again this week!

  • Anna Malcolm

    And remember “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” was the follow up book to “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”! Love the merging of childhood memories with adult DIY tans. Cookies and (faux) tans are happy things, but I’m to lazy to gather all the supplies and carefully do it myself and hope that everything turns out A-OK. And how do you get that part of your back that’s hard to reach? I think I’d need a self-tan buddy. The idea of giving myself a DIY tan gives me major anxiety and now I’m reaching for the cookies…

  • Bread! That’s what Jergens glow smells like…I’ve been trying to peg that for years haha!

  • Danny

    wowwww great post! Do check out mine too http://dannytheawesome.weebly.com/

  • AltheaLecompte

    what type of Mouse Tan?

  • MD.

    I’ve been thinking about trying self tanner this summer! The only thing that have kept me off is the fear of ending up looking like an orange freak! But following your tips I think I may be able to pull it off! xo


  • Athena

    What happens when the tan fades unevenly?

  • How do you get your back?! (or am I just reaaaally unflexible?)

  • skin care is big problem these days . you provide good tips and guide in this articles thanks for all these. 🙂

    Best Indoor lotions