Tanning beds are absolutely out of the question, but we don’t always have time to self-tan. The solution? The 5-Step Fake-a-Tan Plan.

STEP ONE: Sunscreen

To begin the real part of your tan (because this really works better when you’re not channeling Casper) promise me you will always apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30. I love Pevonia Botanica Hydrating Sunscreen – it’s one of the top spa-recommended sunscreens, and it’s what I used on my recent trip to Cali. It’s chock full of vitamins and completely oil-free, so it can work as a moisturizer as well, even if it’s not a pool day. $40 on Pevonia.com. Also, check out these 3 eco-friendly sun shields under $10.

STEP TWO: Maui Babe

You may or may not be familiar with my obsession with Maui Babe, a vestige of my tanorexic years that I just cannot seem to kick. Nor do I want to. As long as it’s used over SPF you’re safe, and it is still hands down the best tanning formula on the planet. And when I say tanning I mean browning. I’ve still yet to burn with the Babe. Starting at $13.99 on mauibabe.com.

STEP THREE: A Misting Sunless Self-Tanner

Since you should never be sitting in the sun all day (and who has the time, really?), this is where you mix your real bronze with your fake one. At-home tanning formulas allow you to build gradually, as needed. Applying every other day is a good pace when you want to be building your tan without looking orange. This one from Mystic Tan gives an incredibly rich and even tone. After drying off from your shower, hold about 8 inches from your skin, spray all over, stand still for a few minutes to dry, and in a few hours you’ll be “back from vacation”. $38 on amazon.com.

STEP FOUR: Liquid Bronzer

The funny thing about beauty products is that sometimes they don’t do what they promise, and sometimes they do even better things they didn’t promise. This MAC Skinsheen Leg Spray doesn’t actually do much for your legs, so I’ve found, but it works wonders on your face! It has never caused me to break out, but if you have sensitive skin, I’d try it in the store first. Put a spritz on your fingers, then apply evenly to your face and neck for an added out-the-door glow. $26.50 at MAC.

STEP FIVE: Powder Bronzer

I’ve used a lot of great bronzers – NARS Bronzing Powder, Lola Sand & Sun, HOOLA by Benefit… but none so readily available and affordable as Physicians Formula Powder Palette. Don’t use the baby brush it comes with unless it’s an emergency though – it’s too small to apply it well. Someone should really tell them this. $11.99 on drugstore.com


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