sunless tanning

Once  upon a time, I would regularly visit the tanning bed (gasp). I couldn’t help myself – I loved having a little color to my skin. You see, when I was a wee one I had strawberry-blonde hair and we all know how redheads tan – we don’t. We freckle and burn, only to become ghostly white once again.

So  when I discovered the magic of the tanning bed and how you could SLOWLY but surely build a tan, I was all over it.  Only it wasn’t so great… My skin started to look leathery and my freckles tripled. I love the freckles but leathery skin? I think not…

So I hit up the NEXT best thing – the spray tan. Back in the dark ages they had something called the Mystic Tan – and I was addicted. A few sprays in a booth and viola! Instant tan. However, looking back over some photos I realized I looked more like the ‘great pumpkin.Orange and me do not mix. Exhibit A to the left…

Next up was the Versa Spa – the newest thing in sunless tanning. I LOVED it. I would hit it up once a week and would order up the ‘dark tinted’ mixture to be saturated with. I love this and still do – but it’s costly. Exhibit B to the right…

Being on a budget meant that the weekly spray tan I wanted so much couldn’t happen as often as I would like… so I considered the infamously BAD tanning lotions. I tried many, many kinds and brands but my all time favorite? Loreal Sublime Bronze. Its AMAZING. Seriously. I do not even hit up the spray tans any more – just slap on a little of this and I’m ready for a night out!

It is tinted so that you can see exactly where you have put it and if there will be streaks or not. I like the medium color and prefer the gel instead of the lotion – but both work well. It dries quickly and gives you a little extra color right out of the gate. After a few hours on the skin you have a beautiful, natural-looking tan! It’s about $10 a bottle but the bottle will last me over a month – sometimes two.


So in summary – its cheaper than the spray, healthier than the beds, and overall looks better… And you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home!

Tips: wash your hands afterward, exfoliate the bod before application, shave the gams so that the lotion/ gel can spread evenly and smoothly, put lotion on your elbows and knees and ankles before application. (I prefer to do it at night so that I can wake up with a tan, wash off the lotion, and be set for the day.)

Happy Tanning!


22 responses to “sunless tanning

  • Kristen


    Love all your great finds and beauty suggestions! Keep them coming!

  • DD (@DishyDec)

    I need to try the Sublime Bronze. I alternate between Jergen’s Natural Glow Daily Lotion and Jane Iredale’s Tantasia (also tinted).

    I started using a big Kabuki brush to apply the tanner lightly around my ankles and wrists, and on the tops of my hands. It works GREAT and helps prevent streaks. It also keeps your palms free of tanner.

    • hadleysreality


      I use to use the Jergen’s but Mr. Big was complaining about the smell… he would walk up to me and ask me what the o-d-o-r was… not a good thing! He hasn’t mentioned the stink with the loreal brand so I’m loving that!

      The Kabuki brush is SUCH an awesome idea! I’m gonna have to try that! Thanks so much for sharing that little tid-bit!

      much love-hadley

  • Antoinette Seminario-Skinner

    Sublime is AWESOME, love it, and use it regularly. I lived in Las Vegas for 4 years, and by the time I moved back to Kentucky, I had (and still trying to get rid of) ugly sun spots on my face. I love the hint of color this gives!!

    • hadleysreality


      YES it is! So glad that someone else loves it as much as me! Yea the sun spots are NOT good… I’ve got some too – boo. But this tanning stuff sort of makes them blend away and not be as visible – which I LOVE!

      much love-hadley

  • Sara

    I love when you do beauty post!! do you use this in the winter too?

    • hadleysreality

      Thanks Sara!

      Yes… I am the silly girl who is tan all year long – even if there is a foot of snow on the ground! I just feel better with a tan – slimmer, sexier, and not pasty!

      much love-hadley

  • Jill

    Thank you for posting this. I used to go to tanning beds but I’ve been too scared to look like a pumpkin so I’ve just been ghostly white for a few seasons. Looking forward to trying this out this winter!

  • Melissa Hyberger

    Thanks! Where or what colors do you put on your hair to make it so natural looking? TKS;)

    • hadleysreality


      I go to a salon here in Louisville (Joseph’s Salon and Spa) and they use all natural products by Aveda. I simply highlight it… I get a blond color and a brown color alternated all the way through – then she adds a little extra blond around the face to frame it.

      Hope this helps!

      much love-hadley

  • abby

    Great tips! Do u have any suggestions of products for the face? Or do u just use a tinted moisturizer and/or bronzer? I see sunless tanning products for the face but I’m always too afraid to use them. Thanks again for all the great recommendations!

    • hadleysreality


      Very funny that you ask… I usually never put the lotion or gel on my face. I was always too scared that it would make me break out. Well this weekend I got a little risky and tried it – BAD call. I have incredibly sensitive skin and it made me look awful. My skin broke out and looked SICK. I am just gonna stick to my old routine… I use the same foundation I always use but put bronzer on (Bobby Brown) to match my newly tanned skin!

      much love-hadley

  • Ashley

    Great suggestions! I currently use the Jergens mist and it is awesome, too! Do you have any products that you use to even out skin tone from previous sun damage? I am an ex fake-baker myself and I have to admit I can see a few sunspots in the magnifying mirror!

    • hadleysreality


      Oh no… now there is a MIST?! I didn’t even know about this!! I will have to try this immediately – if not sooner 🙂 I do not use anything for previous sun damage… i tried some lightener or bleach creams but never saw a difference. That is one reason I love the sunless tanning products… they sorta make those spots blend into the skin and not be as apparent. I have a magniying mirror too – its my worst enemy! I can literally sit for hours and look at the ickyness!

      much love-hadley

  • G

    Hadley, was surprised to find out your a strawberry blonde! I am a strawberry blonde also and I have freckles around my nose, what is the best way you found to cover them up? Also, my strawberry blonde hair always peeks through and eventually changes the color of my blonde highlights to look more strawberry blonde, how do you keep your hair so blonde without running to the salon every other week?

    • hadleysreality


      Yes… the secret is out! My hair actually turns colors after a while – it almost looks brassy (if that makes sense). I don’t visit the salon too often but when I do I ask her to pull the color down a little bit (or fade it into) the previously colored hair. I do not want to re-color hair that has already been colored becuase of breakage – but it helps to blend everything together better. I am still unsure of how to keep it from changing color – its so frustrating!

      As for the freckles – I sort of love them sometimes and hate them others! So after I apply foundation, I will ‘pat’ concelear on my nose and cheeks to cover the freckles. I also use bronzer so it blends them in a little bit.

      Hope this helps!

      much love- hadley

  • Jennifer

    Love this post! I alternate between sunless tans and paleness. I want so badly to keep up with the sunless tan because it makes me feel better, but I end up stopping because of the smell. I know the smell is inevitable but do you have any tips for covering up the smell or neutralizing it?

    • hadleysreality


      I totally hear ya on the smell factor… Mr. Big ALWAYS comments on the smell – he HATES it. He hated the spray tan and the Jergens smell… but does not comment on this! It doesn’t smell half as bad as the rest. The best trick I know of is to do it before bed, so that the tan can set in and you can stink while you snooze, then shower off the stench in the AM. Then slather on the perfume!

      Hope this helps!

      much love-hadley

  • Sara

    Hey Girl! when you get your hair cut what do you ask for? my hair is really long like yours and I don’t know what to ask for


    • hadleysreality


      I avoid getting my hair but like a visit to the dentist! I HATE cutting my hair. I always feel like it is too short or too straight across or something. My hairdresser came up with something for me that she calls the ‘Fake Hair Cut.’ She takes her scissors vertically and snips the dead ends off – but not creating a harsh line going across the bottom. I LOVE it!!

      much love-hadley

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