Well Being

In Which I Attempt To Make DIY Self Tanner (And Take Photos)

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DIY self tanner

Last week, I wrote about how, despite a lot of scary headlines, spray-tanning isn't some stealth killer–but that some store-bought self tanners do contain crappy ingredients, like parabens and fragrances that may be toxic (or at least icky). Which started me on a rabbit hole of DIY self tanner recipes, courtesy of (who else?) the Internet. Turns out, making your own self tanner is actually a pretty popular thing to do. And, because I am a hero and I am willing to sacrifice my own appearance for you, the readers…I tried two of them. On my own skin. That's how much I love you all.

There are basically two kinds of DIY self tanner that I've found on Pinterest and other places on the internet. They are:

  • Some combination of cocoa powder and lotion
  • Very strong black tea of some variety, possibly mixed with oil

Of course, there are various iterations and recipes, but for the most part, these two were the ones that most people swear by–and the ones where I had every ingredient in my bathroom and kitchen.

And while most store-bought self tanners contain DHA (a vegetable derivative), which colors your dead skin, self tanners like these actually work better with exfoliated skin, because the color is actually in them. So before trying either of these, exfoliate your skin.

Cocoa Powder Fake Tanner

cocoa fake tanner

You need:

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Some kind of lotion that you like, preferably without parabens or sodium lauryl sulfate or other undesirable chemicals

Then you:

  • Mix together the cocoa powder and lotion at about a 1:4 ratio (1/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1 cup of lotion) in a bowl.
  • It will smell delicious and look like chocolate mousse. Resist the urge to lick your finger.
  • Pop it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, to ensure that the cocoa powder has a chance to really mix in.
  • Put it on your skin.
  • Give it plenty of time to dry.

Here are my actual arms, for comparison.

DIY fake tanner

I'm going to be honest–I do not recommend this method. If you could see my face, you'd see how displeased I am.

It's really messy, makes your skin predictably sticky, and is damn near impossible to get even. See that giant streak? I couldn't get it to go away. Though it kind of looks like I have very toned forearms, so maybe that's a plus. Also, my dogs kept trying to lick me afterward, and chocolate is not good for them. Moving on!

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