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Ask a Redhead: What Is The Best Sunless Tanner for Redheads?

There should be no pressure for redheads to get a tan, but if you’re interested don’t shy away!


Every week, we put out a call for your redhead questions. This gives you a chance to get advice or input from our team of redheads. From beauty and fashion to lifestyle, redheads are in a unique boat, and we want to help make this community a place where you can turn to for all your redhead needs.

This week, we’re answering a question from Facebook and Instagram! Redheads wrote in asking: 

  • “What’s the most realistic fake tan that doesn’t turn people orange?”
  • “Self-tanner for redheads that don’t turn orange, I don’t want to be super dark but I’m pale and I’d love to have just a little color?’’ 
  • “Recommendations for self-tanner that doesn’t streak?”

We’ve tackled topics like why redheads should stay away from traditional sun tanning, but now it’s time to talk fake tan. Getting that faux glow is something many redheads are looking for, but many struggle with coloring, application, and aftercare. Today we’re diving deep into sunless self-tanning to tell you all the tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years. 

Find the right sunless tanner formula

Self-tanners come in a variety of formulas and it all depends on what you like. Tanning lotion, tanning mousse, and tanning drops are probably the three most common.

Gradual tanning lotions are usually applied every day for a certain number of days, each day the product will darken until your perfect color is achieved.

Tanning mousse is applied all in one go using a tanning mitt and then let sit for several hours or overnight, before being washed off.

Tanning drops are added to a moisturizer of your choice and applied as frequently as you like to keep up a gradual tan. Tanning drops are often used as maintenance tan on the face/hands where tan may wash off more quickly. 

Learn how to avoid the orange 

Now the question everyone has been asking is how to get a tan that doesn’t look orange. Many redheads find that when they self or spray tan, their skin ends up looking close in hue to their hair. This can cause the tan to look unnatural because most redheads naturally have fair skin. To avoid looking orange, you should look at the undertones in your tanning products.

  • LOOK FOR: Blue and purple are opposite of orange on the color wheel, which means that tanning products with violet undertones will help to reduce that orange hue. You can also opt for tan with green undertones which can help to balance out redness and give you more of an olive complexion. 
  • AVOID: Red, orange, yellow, or golden undertones because these will give you an orange hue. 

Learn how to apply sunless tanner

The key to getting the perfect sunless self-tan is perfecting your application. Here are a few tricks we’ve learned:

  • Prep your skin: One thing that can make a tan look worse is un-prepped skin. Tanner will cling to un-exfolaited, unmoisturized skin leaving behind orange splotchy patches. Make sure you exfoliate 24 hours beforehand and moisturize several hours before applying your tan.
  • Use a light formula: Opt for the lightest shade, you might want that super dark tan but it’s going to blend in with your hair. Instead, opt for a subtle glow. 
  • Apply with a makeup brush: For areas that need a gentle hand like your hands, feet, knees, elbows, and face, try applying your self-tanner with a light, fluffy makeup brush. This is great for getting a light coating and blending. 
  • Avoid deodorant: The ingredients in your deodorant can cause a reaction with the tan and turn your armpits green! Make sure you wash off all your deodorant before applying your tan, and avoid putting any more on until after you shower.
  • Use baby powder: Sunless tanner gets streaky when it gets wet, but if you’re tanning in the summer or are sweating, you might be worried. Apply some baby powder to any areas you may sweat after you’ve applied your tan and let it dry for about 15 minutes. This will help you avoid sweat marks. 
  • Wear loose, dark clothing afterward: Let your tan dry completely for about 15 minutes, and then put on loose, dark clothing. Tight clothing can cause rubbing, and light clothing may become stained. 
  • Let it sit for less time: Once you apply a self-tanner, there’s a waiting period where you let it sit. During this period the tan develops. Once you wash it off it stops developing color as rapidly. Let your tan sit for half the time to get a lighter, more natural glow

Redhead men can rock sunless tanner too

Sunless tanning isn’t just for the ladies! Fair-skinned guys who want to get some color can enjoy the benefits of sunless self-tanning or spray tanning too. If you head to a spray tanner, they will tell you they get guys in there all the time. Many of your favorite celebs and athletes probably get sunless tans for big events, and you should too.

7 Sunless-Tanner Products for Redheads 

Rock it like a Redhead! 


READ: Ask a Redhead: Feeling Pressured To Tan And How To Embrace Your Skin

READ: 6 Best Gradual Sunless Tanners for Redheads