6 Easy Hacks For A Bronzy Look Without Tanning (Fake Or Otherwise)

A healthy, radiant tan is how you make a statement with your bare skin. It's hard to resist the golden glow of beach-ready skin. According to a 1992 survey in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, people's perceptions of attractiveness and fitness are closely linked to their sun tan level. The more tanned you are, the more irresistible you appear. The easiest and cheapest way to get a tan is to go tanning. All you need to do is lie on the beach with your sunglasses on and sip on a glass of wine while waiting for the sun to deposit that surfer-girl sunkissed glow into your skin. 


While sun-worshipping looks like a picture of self-care bliss, it's the last thing you want to do because sunbathing puts you at risk of skin cancer, premature aging, and eye danger. The same can be said for bed tanning. Getting a fake tan is a good shout if you want to attain an airbrushed golden glow without traumatizing your skin — nobody has to know that you got out of burning your skin to look that good. Below, check out easy hacks to give your skin a bronzy look without tanning. 

Self-tanning lotion or tinted body moisturizer

If you want both the tan and the skincare benefits, get a self-tanning lotion or a tinted body moisturizer. It's the same as massaging hydrating lotion into your skin, with the bonus of a tinted shine. Most self-tanning lotions have a texture similar to moisturizers and are filled with substances that hydrate and soften the skin. In particular, self-tanning lotions contain Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a chemical that aids in developing a faux coat of tan without subjecting the skin to UV radiation. Although self-tanning lotions save you the need to tan in the sun, they can't protect you from damaging UV rays. You'll still need to slather with SPF before applying tanning lotion to ensure sun-safe skin.


As far as tones go, most self-tanning brands offer plenty of options. You can choose between sheer, medium, and full coverage depending on your preferences. You can also select formulas that best suit your skin conditions (i.e., lightweight, oil-free, or sulfate-free). Exfoliate before using the product to ensure smooth application. The color usually develops over a few hours and remains on your skin for several days. The saturation of your tan depends on the concentration of DHA in the product and how you apply it. You can easily rinse your fake tan off in the shower.

Body shimmer

If you have dull and lackluster skin, make body shimmers your next best friend. The light-reflecting properties of body shimmers can make you glow like a beach goddess in an instant. Available in both oil and spray forms, body shimmers can give your skin an immediate boost of soft radiance that replicates the look of being sun-kissed. You can spray or massage shimmer to any part of your body. Common application areas include shoulders, arms, back, collarbone, calves and thighs. You can also use a separate face shimmer mixed with foundation to give your face a dewy finish. 


A body shimmer cannot make your skin significantly tanner, but the leave-in glow and vibrancy it adds to the skin's surface can cause you to look fresh out of the sunlight. If you want to give your skin a more intense glow, opt for a tinted option slightly darker than your natural skin tone. Most body shimmers are not designed with skincare benefits in mind. Before applying body shimmer, sun-proof your skin with sunscreen and keep it moisturized with a body lotion.

Body bronzer

The easiest way to ooze vitamin D from head to toe sans sun exposure is with a wash-off body bronzer. Available in cream, liquid, gel, spray, and powder forms, body bronzers can temporarily darken your skin surface, giving it a golden brown hue with a healthy sheen in a blink. The star ingredients in body bronzers are DHA and erythrulose, which react with keratin amino acids in the outer layer of the skin to produce a tinted look. 


When choosing bronzers, it's safer to stick an option about one or two shades darker than your natural skin tone. The conventional wisdom is to pick a shade that matches your face bronzer — too intense shades can give your fake tan away. Also, look for bronzers that provide added benefits, such as skin hydration and imperfection concealer. After exfoliating and showering, towel your body dry and apply bronzer to the exposed parts of your body, such as your neck, V-line, and shoulders. Then, wait 10 to 15 minutes for the product to dry before putting on your clothes.   

Sunless tanning wipes

Sunless tanning wipes are also an excellent method to add instant warmth and definition to your skin. Although they look like regular wipes, they are pre-soaked in a mixture involving the color additives DHA and erythrulose.When you glide them on your skin, the pigments in the wipes will be deposited all over your skin's surface and adjust to your natural skin tone, resulting in a brownish hue sans streaks. Portable and convenient, these disposable towelettes can be used to touch up on any faded areas and are perfect for travel.


Although tanning wipes contain a rich concentration of pigments, you don't need to use mitts when rubbing them over your skin. One towel is enough to cover your whole body, but you can use more if you want to build up your tan or maintain it throughout the day. Before you get started, exfoliate and moisturize your skin to help it absorb the solution more effectively and evenly. Then, rub the wipe into your skin in a circular motion. Then, wait for at least 10 minutes until the product gets dry before putting on clothes. The full tan usually takes a couple of hours to develop, so consider using the wipe at least one hour before going out.  

Tanning pills

With tanning pills, you can achieve a tan-like effect without spending a minute in the sun. According to Healthline, canthaxanthin, a food-coloring additive commonly found in tanning pills, releases compounds that contribute to skin pigmentation, turning your skin into a darker tone if used over a prolonged period. In terms of efficacy, it might take weeks of usage before you start seeing results. 


Although tanning pills might add a tint to your skin, there's no guarantee it will be the hue you want. For instance, you might get orange-brown instead of golden brown. Experts recommend taking one pill per day. One thing to keep in mind is that tanning pills are not risk-free. Unlike topical products that temporarily deposit pigment on your skin surface, these pills cause your skin to change color from the inside out. A new layer of pigment produced by tanning pills cannot be washed off easily, so if you don't like your new tan, you'll have to wait it out. Besides, anything that goes into your body can harm your health, so you might want to consult your physician before introducing these pills into your diet. 


Tanning spray

Spray tans are probably the most popular form of sunless tanning these days. They're a much safer alternative than tanning beds; the results are typically instant. 

You can have your body sprayed-tanned in a salon or a pop-up booth. You can also do it at home if you have the right equipment. In a professional setting, an airbrush or airgun will produce a low-pressure spray all over your body for a smooth and even application. DHA, the active component in the solution, will cause a chemical reaction with your skin's epidermis to give it a darker tint.


Many spray-tanning service providers offer customized formulas with skin-enhancing ingredients that help you achieve the most natural-looking tan without compromising on the feel of your skin. A spray tan usually lasts you for over a week. Wear loose-fitting clothing to keep your tan intact and stay dry for at least four to eight hours after your tanning session.