Sunless Tanning + Nail Favorites

Today I'm joining Erika for her monthly Chit Chat series and this month's theme is all about beauty products. I recently shared my tried and true beauty products for cosmetics and hair products (in this post) but there are two categories that I didn't cover in that post, and ironically those are the ones you actually do see in almost all of my pictures! I'm referring specifically to my sunless tan and my nails.

Top: Express | Necklace: Express | Shorts: Old Navy (Similar) | Sandals: Nordstrom | Watch: Fossil (Similar) | Bracelet: c/o Zinnia West (Sold Out) | Bag: Danielle Nicole

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Sunless Tanning Favorites
Affordable pricing is really important to me when it comes to sunless tanners because I apply the stuff almost every single day, so the cost adds up! These are the three sunless tanning products I always keep in my cabinet (the first two are under $10, the third is under $20). None of these have a bad self tanner odor (to my nose) at all. The first two products are here are untinted, which I prefer because they don't stain my clothes, even when I get dressed shortly after application.

Favorite Affordable Sunless Tanners

Jergens Natural Glow Lotion: 
I typically use this every day on my legs since it works as a moisturizer and provides a nice, even color. The drawback with this one is that it takes a bit longer to dry completely than the foam products, so I make sure I have about an hour to dry before I put on my outfit of the day, otherwise my legs feel kind of sticky.

Jergens Natural Glow Foam: 
This is what I use daily on all of my body except for my legs. It's easy to rub in, dries quickly and provides a nice color. If I don't have adequate time to let my legs dry, I'll use it on those too, but I do feel like my legs get dry and itchy if I use this too many days in a row. Also, I also find that the lotion version gives more color to my legs than the foam.

Norvell Sunless Foam:
This is the most expensive of my trio, but I keep it on hand for occasional use on my legs.  It gives the most (and best color) to my legs of the three products, is easy to rub in, and dries quickly. Like the other foam, my legs get dry and itchy if I use it too often. Also, since it costs more than the others I only use it either before a special occasion or about once a week during shorts season to build up a nice color.

Last week I started working the Norvell tanner into my rotation again since we were having several days of shorts weather, so you can see how my tan progressed from day one (left, daily Jergens use) to day two (one day of Norvell use in the blue dress), to day three (black jacket outfit) after I had used Norvell for two days on my legs. Outfit four is the front view pic of the top-down photo from above from last summer for those who prefer that view (and naturally I'm wearing plenty of self-tanner there, too.):
For full details of Outfits 1-3 see this post. Outfit 4 Details above.

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It's not a dramatic difference from Day One (far left) to Day Three (third picture), because I was already using Jergens every day, but definitely a nice little color boost on the legs!

Favorite Sunless Tanning Tools
Sunless Tanning Tools

These are my must-have items for sunless tanner application:

I wear sturdy kitchen gloves like these while I apply my sunless tanner so it doesn't stain my palms. It doesn't have to be the exact brand, really any dish gloves or latex gloves will work. I cut the gloves down with scissors so they cover just my hands up to my wrists. (With this particular brand I'll be cutting the gloves right where the white meets the blue material.)

Barrier Lotion:
Before I apply sunless tanner, I use a take moisturizing lotion like the one picture and apply it to my knees, elbows and ankles. Those areas tend to "grab" the tanning product and get darker than everywhere else, and the lotion helps dilute it and make it more even.

Cosmetic Sponges:
After I apply sunless tanner to my entire body with the kitchen gloves, I remove those, put a dab of foam on one of these cosmetic wedges and apply it to the backs of my hands.

Foam Roller: 
This was one of those life-changing beauty hacks for me! I use a 6-inch foam paint roller just like the one pictured above (which you can purchase at Lowes or The Home Depot) to apply sunless tanner to my back. First, I apply a thick streak of sunless tanning foam to the paint roller. Then I use the roller to easily reach every inch of my back. It also helps to use a handheld mirror in your free hand to look at your back in the bathroom mirror while you do this (just like you would use to look at the back of your hair). I find the paint roller works best with a foam sunless tanning product rather than a lotion or spray formula.

Mani/Pedi Favorites

This Spring I wanted to simplify things in the nail department and just have a couple of signature colors instead of changing as often I have in years past. Here are my top three favorites:

Spring 2016 nail color faves

Essie Flowerista | Sinful Colors Easy Going | Essie Marshmallow

For Pedicures:
Essie Flowerista. I don't know why I like this so much as a pedicure color for Spring but I just do!

For Manicures:

1. Sinful Colors "Easy Going." I can't find this at a single online retailer, but you can purchase it in store at Rite Aid or Target. It's my all-time favorite nail color! It took years of trial and error to find just the right pinkish-white shade for my skin tone and this one is the best I've found for me.  I'm sure it won't be the best for everyone else depending on your skin coloring, but it's worth a shot if you have similar coloring to mine. And it's only two dollars!

2. Essie Marshmallow. If I feel like a change from pinkish-white I'll switch to this one. The difference between the two is very minimal, but it has no pink at all and is a semi-sheer white. It's not a white-out white like Essie Blanc, which I generally wear only during summer.

Here's how my favorite mani/pedi colors look on me (front view of this outfit shown above):
Jacket: Express (Similar) | Dress: Express | Necklace: Express | Sandals: Nordstrom | Sunglasses: LOFT | Watch: c/o Fossil | Bracelets: LOFT

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Long-Lasting Top Coat Favorites 

Top Coat Favorites

I shared my love for these two products in this post and I am still impressed with how well they perform for me. Before using these top coats my manicures would last 2-3 days (at most), and now they last 6-7 days! Typically I paint my nails at night and apply Seche Vite to the wet nail polish. I try to be done with that about 30 minutes before bed time because even though Seche Vite helps them dry quickly, I still feel like they aren't completely "set" right away. Then first thing in the morning I apply Gel Setter during my coffee and computer time. It's fully dry in about ten minutes. It's also very easy to remove these with just regular nail polish remover - no complicated process required unlike gel or artificial nails.

* * *

For my regular readers a lot of this post will sound familiar because I've shared most of these products in years past, just not all in one place like this. But every year I have someone new stop by whose spouse appreciates the fact that they no longer need help applying self tanner to their back! But if you were yawning your way through the recycled information, I'll be back on Wednesday with some entirely new content so I hope you'll stop by then!

Linking up with:
ErikaAndreaNarci |JoLynne | Katie | Megan | Lindsey | Amanda |



  1. your tan progress pic is really impressive, I'm in a gel rut right now but I need to try using those 2 top coats together.


  2. It seems like you have a great system for sunless tanning, I was never quite able to master it without looking streaky so I kind of gave up haha. Seche Vite is the best, I will have to look in to adding Gel setter to my routine!

  3. I use the Jergen's too but I've never heard of Norvell. I might need to try it! I completely forgot about the roller tip for your back! I'm so glad you reposted this today!

    Doused In Pink

  4. Last year you posted something about self tanners and I immediately purchased a foam roller, that is pure genius! I use self tanner daily (living in FL I need color!) and always had problems with getting my back. Thanks for the great ideas, I love how practical you are!

    1. I'm so glad the foam roller is working for you! Isn't it the best? I think I found the trick on a sunless tanning message board like 10 years ago so I can't say I thought of it myself, but happy to share. And thanks for the "practical" compliment. I love that! :)

  5. I was just telling my husband how dang pasty my legs are - this is such a great resource! Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Thanks for these helpful tips, Gina! The roller is a genius idea. I definitely will give it a try.

  7. Thanks for sharing about these products Gina as I haven't tried self-tanners before. I'm hoping I can find these products in Toronto. I recently bought the St. Tropez self-tanners but they were quite pricey, I haven't attempted those yet but I will with these tips and if I do like it I'd prefer something more affordable like these. Your nails always look amazing, I have serious mani envy everytime I see them on IG!

  8. Loved this post! I have the Essie Marshmallow and just love it, even on my toes! I need to look for the Essie Floweriest, that color looks like one I'd wear often! I just tried the Jergens Natural Glow and I really liked that it doesn't have a tint, so that it doesn't stain your clothes (or bath robe) while putting it on! I haven't heard of that other brand, but I should check it out for special occasions. I am going to pin it, thanks!


  9. This is such a great post and so informative. You always do look great with a tan and your nails are always perfect and your clothes are never wrinkled. And now I also know how organized you are about your workout DVDs (loved seeing all of that on Snapchat). I never have the patience to do my own self tanning. This year I thought about trying one of those airbrush tanning places and seeing how I like that. But your idea of using the roller on your back is genius. Pure genius.

  10. ooooh flowerista is super pretty.
    okay i have a stupid question because i know nothing about self tanning. does this wash off daily? i know you said you build it up, but i guess i am confused (which isn't hard). i am super nervous about self tanners, especially in the areas that grab like you said.. but i don't want to be scary pale for my cruise, and i'm not laying out, so... i guess i'm gonna have to do something!

    1. It does not wash off daily. (In general, self tanners are not meant to wash off daily, unlike a product like Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs, which IS meant to wash off). The two Jergens products I use are specifically called "Gradual" self tanners because they only give a teeny tiny bit of color with each application. They are much more mistake-proof than a regular self tanner. I would highly recommend something like this for someone like you who is new to self tanning. I use the "Medium to Dark" skintone self tanner even though my own skin is not actually medium to dark. I just want to look more tan! But if you're new and nervous, start with the Fair skin one. After one application you'll have just an ever so slight tan, and you can keep adding daily until you get to a color you want. If you apply it for 3-4 days and don't look as tan as you want, you'll have to go with the Medium-Dark version. And that goes back to your comment about building up. I find that with any Gradual Self-Tanner after about 3-4 days of applying you're as tan as you're going to get (and will just be maintaining with additional application) so if it's not the color you want, try another product. :) Let me know if that helps clarify!

  11. I love Jergens lotion! I use it all year long. I haven't tried the foam though, and now I want to. Love that Essie Marshmallow color too, and I still need to try your top coat favorites. I'm still using CND.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  12. I have to go try easy going by sinful colors! I'm really doing the same thing Gina with my nails. I've discovered that I like nudes, pinks, corals, and reds with a little variation in between. I'm not into crazy colors like I once was. I need to clean out my polish drawer!

    And although I'm not into tanning (real or fake) I have used the jergens in the past and did like the natural glow it left. I need to try it again for the wedding I'm in next month!

  13. Wow you've got the self-tan procedure down to a science! Love the foam roller tip...although I'm relieved i don't self-tan as my daily/weekly maintenance is already so time consuming! I picked up that sinful color polish to use on my Florida holiday - i loved the color (the most perfect shade ever) but not the formula (mine was slightly chalky)...if I could find that same shade in a different formula, it would be all I'd ever wear :-)

    1. I agree with you completely on the formula. It's really not the best, and if I could find an exact color match with a better formula I'd gladly pay a little more for it. But I swear I've tried every pinkish-white from Essie and some come close but none are exact. :/ So if you do find a polish with the same color and better formula, please let me know!

  14. The paint foam roller is such a great beauty hack!! I will have to give it a try.


    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

  15. Thanks for all the tricks! I need to start tanning again...so pasty white. Have you ever used any kind of tanning towels? I have the tan towels now and I like them a lot!

  16. Essie Flowerista is one of my favs! And loving that necklace from Express, it goes perfect with your green top <3
    Green Fashionista

  17. Gina! I love your sunless tanning tips. SUPER helpful. I need to get on that but it just seems like so much work. The tan progression pictures were dynamite!!! xx-S www.gaminestripes.com

  18. The olive top and white shorts is my favorite look as is the striped b & w button down with the cut off shorts. Great looks this week!



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