Sun-Kissed in February

February can be a stressful time for Vandy girls. First, school is back in session, which means that the time for baking gingerbread cookies and watching Elf is sadly, but officially, over. Second, there is the whole Valentine’s Day ordeal, which creates varying levels of stress for everyone, regardless of relationship status. And finally, Spring Break is right around the corner, and many girls are starting to worry that all of those nights spent staying in are starting to show… No, I’m not referring to winter weight- I’m talking about pale skin!
Luckily for you beautiful ladies, there are self-tanning options available for every budget and lifestyle- and after trying most of them myself, I have uncovered the best of the best! Read on to find your perfect glow.
1.  Best Spray Tanner: Neutrogena MicroMist Airbrush Sunless Tan
2.  Cost: about $11                      Where to Find It: CVS, Walgreens

Why I Love It: This product is perfect for self-tanning beginners, because there’s really no way you can go wrong. The mist goes on smoothly and does not streak. Plus, the range of shades (light, medium, and dark) means that no matter what your starting point, you can build a natural-looking, sunless tan.
Downsides: First, it’s a mist, so dorm-room application is a little tricky (it works best if you’re completely naked and in a well-ventilated area…. Common room anyone?). Second, Neutrogena has yet to find a way to hide the smell of DHA, the smelly active ingredient in most self-tanners.
Bottom Line: Great deal for the money, but tricky to apply in a dorm room setting (unless you have a very patient roommate!).
2.  Best Wash-Off (Gel) Tanner: Fake Bake Original Self-Tanning Lotion
Cost: about $30                        Where to Find It: Online, beauty salons

Why I Love It: Fake Bake promises an instant deep tan, and it delivers. I used this product every other day for a week before pageants and big events in high school and always developed a deep bronze look. This product also gets rid of the smell problem by being wash-off – you apply it before bed, and wash it off in the morning. As long as you use a good-smelling, non-abrasive body wash (I am in love with Nivea Body Washes lately!) in the morning, you will be beautifully bronzed and sweet-smelling! It also contains Vitamin D!
Downsides: This product is not for everyone, specifically those who have naturally fair skin. Application can get messy, as you have to use gloves to keep your hands from staining. Luckily, this gel formula dries quickly and all clothing stains will come out in the wash.
Bottom line: Great for naturally medium- or dark-skinned ladies who do not mind showering in the morning to rinse away residue.
3.  Best Tanning Lotion: Hempz Black Label Bronzer
Cost: about $40.00                        Where to Find It: Online, beauty salons

Why I Love It: Words cannot express how much I love this product. Although it is the most expensive on this list, it is by far the most convenient and simple to use. You apply it in place of your regular lotion, and it smells like all other Hempz products (similar to Aloe Vera, a very fresh scent). The results are a natural, glowing, shimmery tan that lasts for weeks when applied regularly.
Downsides: Really, the cost is the only downside. This stuff is liquid gold.
Bottom Line: My personal favorite self-tanner, because of its convenience and gentle smell.
4. Best Powdered Bronzer: MAC Mineralize Skin Finish
Cost: about $30, plus cost of brush                        Where to Find It: MAC stores

Why I Love It: True, this is a mere bronzer and not a self-tanner, but this stuff is awesome for an everyday glow. Apply it over your foundation along your cheekbones and on the sides of your forehead for a “back from the beach” look. (Try it in Gold Deposit for a true bronze, or Redhead for a peachier look.)
Downsides: To apply this product properly, you really need to buy the MAC brush that is designed with it, which adds to your beauty costs.
Bottom Line: Great, long-lasting bronzer with pretty (and flattering) shimmery effects.
5.  Best Sunscreen!: Aveeno Continuous Protection Sunblock Lotion with SPF 55
Cost: About $7                        Where to Find It: CVS, Walgreens

Why I Love It: When it’s finally warm enough to step out into the sun, this is always my sunblock go-to. SPF 55 may seem like a high number, but if you regularly use any of the above self-tanners, you won’t have to rely on the sun’s harmful rays for your beautiful bronze glow. I like this formula because it oil-free and not greasy – it feels like a normal lotion. It is also hypoallergenic and waterproof, which means no breakouts and less frequent application!
I can’t think of any! This is my favorite sunblock.
Bottom Line: Great protection in an oil-free, non-greasy, waterproof formula!
Happy Bronzing!