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At-Home Tanning The DIY Way

Written by 173 comments

It’s no secret that getting your tan on is terrible for your skin, and tanning beds? Well they ain’t so great either. So what is a girl to do if she wants to rock her inner sun goddess but save the skin damage? Make your own self tanner of course!

That’s right! You can give yourself a bronzed glow from the comforts of your own home for, oh, TWO DOLLAS! *leaping fist pump*

And what’s even better is that this at-home tanning recipe I’m about to bestow on all you beauties is not only cheap but it’s also healthy for your skin and will last for about 4 days!

I mean, today is a damn good day.

All you have to do is:

1. Grab yourself a clean spray bottle, 4 black tea bags, and 2 cups of water.

2. Find a spot in your bathroom you don’t mind getting a little messy in, such as the shower or your bathtub.

3. Boil your water and let your tea bags steep for about 15 minutes. 

4. While your teabags are steeping, have a quick shower to get any excess oil or sweat off your body so your tan doesn’t end up looking streaky and will dry evenly.

5. Once you are done your shower, are completely dried off, and your tea has cooled down enough to touch without burning you, simply pour your tea, sans tea bags, into your spray bottle and sit down in your bathtub or shower. 

6. Then spray yourself evenly with your tea mixture, giving it time to soak in and dry before doing your next coat. 

*I find it best to do one body part at a time and let that section dry before moving onto another area so you can be sure your tan looks exactly how you want it to look.*

7. If you are after a darker shade, spray yourself a third or fourth time until you get your desired color. 

8. Make sure that you are fully dry before getting dressed as you don’t want to run the risk of staining your clothes. 

Et voila! A healthy, cheap, at-home tanning recipe that won’t leave you looking like Snooki! Not that there’s anything wrong with that….wait….yes there is.

Of course if you eventually grow tired of DIY’ing you can always order yourself a badass sunless tanner so you can keep your summertime glow year round. My favorite right now is Fake Bake Flawless. Just be sure you check out my post on how to fix a bad fake tan, you know, in case you overdo it on the spray tanning.

Now I want to hear from you ladies! Do you have any DIY tricks for tanning that you want to share or are you thinking of giving this DIY tanner trick a try? Leave a comment and share your DIY tricks, thoughts, experiences, or even questions below. Happy tanning, you sun goddesses you!

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  • Homemade recipes for sun and sunless tanning lotions.
  • After-suns
  • Tanning accelerators
  • Pre-tanning scrubs
  • And WAAAAY more!

All you need to do is pick up a copy of my Amazon Kindle book – Getting Baked: Home Remedies For Tanningfor ONLY $3.99!

Just click the order button and download your copy instantly from Amazon. And if for some reason you’re not a fan of my writing skills (rude!), you can always ask for a refund, no questions asked.

172 comments… add one

  • is it water resistant or do I have to avoid water?

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  • you should probably avoid swimming if you want it to keep for as long as possible but it usually only last about 3-4 days anyways :-)

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  • really the prob i have is how do i spray my back side ? Can i make a tub of water with tea and soak in it ? front and back gets covered that way .

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  • You could have a friend spray your back!

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  • Do you just spray it and let it soak in, or do you spray and rub it in?

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  • Thanks for the comment Erin and happy to hear you might want to give it a shot :-)

    All you have to do is spray it and let it soak in for a few minutes…then if it’s not as dark as you would like, just simply spray it again.

    Hope that helps and let us know if you decide to give it a go :)

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  • Does it matter what kind of tea? Black, green… ….

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  • I always found the darker the tea, the better :-)

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  • Can’t wait to try this! I like spray tans but a DIY tan sounds even better!

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  • So happy to hear you are going to give it a try!! Let us know what you think :)

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  • So it only lasts 3-4 days and that’s if you don’t shower/swim?

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  • Well I guess if you are showering or swimming every day it might last 2-3 days but I showered and it stayed on for about 2-3 days. Either way, it’s so easy to do that you can keep spraying it and refreshing your ‘tan’ as much as you like :)

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  • Can we re-use the spray or do we have to make new everytime?

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  • No you can definitely re-use it. It’s just tea so it should keep for at least a week….just shake it before using it :-)

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  • does peppermint tea work? i have lots of tea but they dont say what kind, one has licorice roots, one has ginger, one has hibiscus, i dont know which one to use!

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  • ahhh you have way more tea knowledge than I do! lol I used black tea but I guess any dark tea would work really :-)

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  • Chai tea is really dark and would smell even better! awesome tips! i’ll definitely give it a try!

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  • Awesome! If you do try it out let me know how it goes :-)

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  • I am so stoked to try this! Thank you for sharing :)

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  • Awesome! Please let us know what you think :-D

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  • How long does this tan last?

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  • I found my answer, after I read the comments. I will have to give this a try, since I have such fair skin I never have a real tan.

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  • hahaha no worries, glad you sorted it out :)

    If you do give it a try, make sure you let us know how it works for you!!

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  • I’m so excited about this! Especially because I’m a freak about the health of my skin and tea is SOOOO good for skin! This lets you get a healthy, safe tan but also has its own health benefits for your skin! You, my friend, are a genius <3 thanks so much!

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  • Aw thanks girlfriend, that’s very kind! Super thrilled to hear you will give it a go…make sure you let me know what you think of it :)

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  • Can’t wait to try this. I usually use a
    lotions self tanner but this doesn’t sound as messy.
    My daughter wants to try it too.

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  • It’s definitely a lot less messy :)

    Let me know what you gals think of it!

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  • Can I just pin my hair up and fill my tub with black tea water? I realize this would probably take a lot of tea, but I’m no good at spraying my back side…lol…

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  • Hahaha! At least you’re honest ;)

    I’ve never tried it that way but if it works for you please let me know…it does sound a lot easier!

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  • Oh my gosh that would take so much tea. Just get a friend to spray your back for you if you can’t reach. Seriously, that would take an inordinate amount of tea.

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  • It doesn’t take that much tea, 5 bags of black tea is more than enough for a few applications. It depends on how long you want to keep it up for…if you’re thinking months then yes, you will need a lot of tea lol! But if you just want to do this a few times here and there for a subtle glow, then you aren’t going to need that much.

    Besides, it is much cheaper than using tanning beds and having to buy all those lotions…not to mention waaaay better for your skin :-)

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  • Do you have to let the tea spray air dry completely? How long does it usually take to do this? It’s a great idea! You are all over Pinterest now!

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  • Hahaha I’m obsesssssed with Pinterest!! I could spend freakin’ hours on that site :)

    I let my spray completely dry…I found the one time I didn’t, it got a little streaky. And all up it took me under an hour…so happy to hear you like the idea! Let me know if you give it a go :)

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  • Does the tea ‘stain come off on your sheets?

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  • it hasn’t stained my sheets as of yet, but then again I have darker coloured sheets. Let me know if it stains anything of yours :)

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  • Super curious to see if this works on my skin! Summer is coming to an end and I don’t want to tan in a bed!
    I’ll let you know when I try it out. Thanks for this

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  • Crossing my fingers it works for you :) And I too, hate that summer is coming to an end because I haaaate tanning beds lol

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  • Do use let it air dry or dry yourself with a towel? I may try the with coffee as well. Thanks for the idea!

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  • I always let it air dry :)

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  • Is it okay to spray on your face? And also, if were gonna reuse it, should we keep it in the fridge??

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  • I’ve sprayed my face and I have also stored it in my fridge…it’s just tea and it’s supposed to be cool enough to spray it onto you so you should be safe :)

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  • I love this idea!

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  • i just used this…so far no change in color…does it take a little after it dries to show up? i used black tea.

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  • Did you just do one coat? You might want to try a second, or even third coat :)

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  • i used the entire thing on just my legs. i had no results whatsoever. what brand tea do you use?

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  • I can’t remember the brand name I used but did you do a bunch of coats or just one?

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  • I am boiling the water now!! I’ll let you know how it comes out in a little while!!

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  • Ohhh definitely let me know :)

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  • Multiple layers.

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  • hmmm that’s weird, I guess all skin types are different :)

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  • I am also wondering about just soaking in the tub with tea. I am suuuuper fair and really don’t mind that I don’t tan well, but it bugs me when my arms and legs don’t “match” since my arms pick up a tiny bit of color during the short-sleeve months. I am thinking about just soaking my legs in the tub and leaving the rest of me alone. We’ll see…. :)

    Thanks for the tip!

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  • My pleasure :)

    Please let me know how it turns out!

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  • Mine is looking splotchy. Tips??

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  • Did you spray it a few times or just one? And if you did do a few coats, did you wait for it to dry each time before spraying again?

    Finally I JUST wrote a post on how to fix a botched fake tan that you might find helpful:

    http://topbeautybrands.com/how-to-fix-a-fake-tan/

    Hope that helps you out :-)

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  • I can’t wait to try this! Thanks

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  • yay! Let me know how you go :)

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  • On my 2nd coat! So far very subtle difference but I’m super pale sO I’m probably gunna do like 6 layers. I’m super impatient so I’m drying myself with my blowdryer in between layers. Will post results!

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  • Looking forward to it! Is the blowdryer working or is it sort of smearing it?

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  • have you tried this? do you have pics of yours?

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  • I have tried it but I never even thought to take pictures…sorry about that!!

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  • Hi! Thanks for the tanning tip! I have already done so much sun damage to my skin that I’m always looking for healthy way to get some color. One question, like getting a spray tan, does it take a few hours to develope? I just brewed my tea and spray my top half 5 times and my bottom half 3 times, I haven’t seen a difference yet. Do you think it takes time to stain your skin?

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  • Did you let it dry between coats? If not, that could be why :)

    Also I don’t believe you’re supposed to apply lotion afterwards or even for a few hours after (as per your other comment)

    I hope that helps somewhat :-)

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  • Thanks for this i’m extremely pal and i cant tan and after i saw one of my friends spray tan i am terrified to try, but im on my second coat of this and i definitely see a difference! :) My boyfriend is very tan and he is now happy im not a ghost!

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  • Ahhh so happy to hear it’s working for you! And I agree, spray tans can be a little too orange and Jersey Shore-ish lol ;)

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  • I bet if you exfoliate first it might help. And baking soda and water is a great cheep
    exfoliant!

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  • That’s a great idea and a wicked tip! Thanks Kim :-)

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  • Do you think coffee would have the same effect? It’s even darker. I might give both a try

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  • Give it a try and let me know if it works :)

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  • What about sweating? I have gym class everyday so I end up getting pretty sweaty… I know it would fade quicker and I would have to reapply more often because of the sweat and the showers, but would I sweat a weird color or anything? If not, I really want to try this!

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  • Lol I’m not entirely sure but I don’t think you would sweat a weird colour…but if you do try it and you do, please let me know :-)

    Sorry I couldn’t help you out more!

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  • Do you have to rub it in after you spray?

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  • Nope just let it air dry….if you rub it, it could get streaky :)

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  • Does anyone know how this fairs with swimming in a pool or the ocean?

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  • It will fade quicker if you get it wet but you should be fine for at least a dip :)

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  • can I blow dry my skin to get it to dry faster??

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  • I’m a little hesitant to tell you to blow dry your skin because it could make your tan streak….and we don’t want that. However if it does streak and you need to hit the delete button, check out my post on how to fix a botched fake tan :)

    http://topbeautybrands.com/how-to-fix-a-fake-tan/

    Hope that helps!

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  • awesome, I spelled my name wrong haha ^

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  • lol blame it on Monday ;)

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  • If you exercise and sweat, will it streak?

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  • It shouldn’t streak just because of sweating…and because it has dried by the time you exercise I think you should be fine but I haven’t exercised after spraying it so I can’t tell you for sure :(

    I would THINK you would be okay though!

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  • Naturally I am very fair, but I did get on a big tanning kick once. Then I realized I didn’t want to look like leather and switched to the fake stuff, but it got expensive. Once I decided to embrace my fair skin it occurred to me — porcelain skin is pretty! So I haven’t used any type of tan in the last two years. I need something different though and this could be fun, less mess and no chemicals is a plus too. I may be giving this a try, thanks!

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  • Oh happy to hear you’re going to give it a go! Let me know how it works for you….and I totally agree, no chemicals is such a plus!!

    Hope you like it :-)

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  • So, I really want to try this but was wondering will it turn out streaky at all?

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  • If you let it air dry completely it shouldn’t streak…also you might want to try a few coats to even it all out :)

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  • Do you think coffee would work too?

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  • I’m not too sure because I’ve never tried it but would definitely be interested in hearing if it does work :)

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  • Is it safe to put on your face too?

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  • Oh yeah, it’s tea so it’s good for your skin :-)

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  • Does the tanning look real or like a total fake tan?? does it last for three days? Can you take a shower to wash it off?

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  • I think it looks pretty real…it’s quite subtle in my opinion. Mine lasted 3 days and I did shower but it didn’t come straight off right away….in my 2nd shower it did :)

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  • Love it! It left my skin a little sticky, but I’ll take it. It gave that subtle glow I always envy, but don’t have the money for. Thanks!

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  • Ahhhh awesome! That’s what I like to hear :-)

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  • can’t wait to try it! i love tans but i’m so pale i don’t tan at all, i hope it works, will let you know every detail, except maybe when my husband helps me with my back ;)

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  • hahaha okay great, looking forward to hearing your results :-)

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  • I just tried this and it turned out great. I did 3 coats, I have very sentitive skin so I cant use tanning lotion or anyhting with tanner or bronzer in it. Although I am naturally tan, it gives me a really pretty glow and leaves my skin looking healthier. this is great!

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  • Aw yay! That’s what I like to hear! Thanks for sharing your results :-)

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  • I was wondering how long should we let it dry before we can shower?

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  • I’d honestly recommend not taking a shower that day if you can. Otherwise if you’re absolutely dying, wait at least 3 hours.

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  • I’ve always loved being tan, but for the past couple of years I have stopped tanning completely and started spray tanning. I’m so glad I read this! I can’t wait to try it and I can’t wait to tell my friends how this works out! This is perfect since I love all kinds of tea and have so much of it! I think it would be interesting to use lemon/peppermint tea. I’m sure it would feel great on your skin and smell much better than some spray tans!! Thanks Vanessa!

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  • My absolute pleasure! Let me know how it goes for you and if it works :)

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  • Will this run or stain clothes if you go dancing and get swweaty?

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  • It didn’t for me but I was wearing darker colours…maybe just don’t wear white?

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  • Can’t waiiiit to get my tan on! ;)

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  • Holla! Let me know how it goes and keep your eyes open for our DIY tanning guide launching on Nov 15!

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  • I’m going to try this tomorrow! Hope it works for me. I’ll be sure to let ya know how it goes!

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  • Awesome Beth, can’t wait to hear how it goes! And if you do like the results you should sign up to our notification list (right above the comment section) to receive our debut Kindle Book – Getting Baked: Home Remedies for Tanning – for FREE!

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  • I think this might work!!! I’m only twelve and I want to not have skin damage. I really want a natural looking tan without the bed for the cruise I’m going on.!!

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  • Oh wow, you just might be the youngest reader I’ve had yet! Let me know how it goes and I hope you have a great time on your cruise….I’m jealous ;)

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  • Hi Vanessa!
    Thank you for the recipe, I sure will try it!

    Just want to know…do you maybe have any recipes for tanning in the bathtub? I used to get tanning crytals at our pharmacy, but they don’t stock them anymore! Just thought it would be another nice recipe to have!

    Happy blogging!

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  • Hi Elbie,

    Thanks for getting in touch, so happy to hear you are going to give the remedy a try :)

    As for other recipes, I don’t have a bathtub recipe….YET! lol

    However, we do have a full guide on self-tanning just above the comment section and if you sign up to our notification list you can download a copy for free when we launch it!

    Let me know what you think :-)

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  • Just in case anyone was wondering, instant tea works, too! Not sure if the results are exactly the same because I didn’t try bags, but I used Nestea Unsweetened Instant Tea and go the subtle glow I love! So far, it has lasted three days, and I work out 6 days a week with no weird-colored sweat.

    It stained my towel during application, but that washed right out in the washer.

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  • Awesome! Thanks Chrissy! I hadn’t tried instant tea but definitely will now :-) And I’m happy to hear how long it’s lasted! Thanks for keeping us updated :)

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  • Can’t wait to get my taaan on! I use a tanning bed every once and a while (it’s terrible, I know) to keep from looking ghostly pale & I was juuuust thinking I might want to get a 14 day package bc my summer color is fading. Buuuuut I’m definitely going to try this! It’s 122349857334098546x better for your skin then a real tan aaaaaaand its super cheap! Hope it works! :)

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  • Awesome Hannah! Definitely let me know how it goes for you AND if you like the results then you should sign up to our notification list to get our debut Kindle book on DIY tanning for free!

    Thanks for the awesome comment…gave me a good laugh :-)

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  • Wow I’m so trying this out:)! I’ve been looking for something like this! Thanks!!!

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  • That’s what I like to hear! Let me know how it works out for you :-)

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  • I tried this using black tea. Followed the directions correctly and I saw absolutely no results even after the 5th-6th coat. I smelled like tea for a good two hours though, I didn’t mind, but it would’ve been nice to smell like tea while being tan. Haha. Any suggestions of what I may do differently next time?

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  • That’s weird but maybe your skin type just didn’t take to it? Why don’t you try adding some brewed coffee to the mix and giving that a shot?

    Also you might be interested in our upcoming debut Kindle book called ‘Getting Baked: Home Remedies for Tanning’ it has all sorts of DIY tanning tips and if you sign up to the notification list right above this comment section then you can get it for free when it launches in a week!

    Hope that helps :-)

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  • SOOO I first heard about this on the radio and decided to do more reaserch on it. That’s how I found your page. My friend and I are going to try it this weekend.

    I’ve read through some of the comments. I’m wondering if rubbing it in with gloves on would help or blotting it with a sponge. I’ve used organic spray tans before and they suggested using gloves (because it stains your hands) and rubbing it in. That seemed to work for me.

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  • Great tip Cait! I’ve also found if your hands are a little stained after application, sugar and lemon tends to remove the colour :-)

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  • Will the tea mixture make your skin sticky afterwards?

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  • It hasn’t ever made my skin feel sticky :)

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  • Works Great! Just tried it and I am now a whole shade darker!!!!!!

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  • Awesome! I’m so glad it worked out for you :-)

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  • I would think the cafine would absorb through ur skin and make u jittery.

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  • It does absorb into your skin but it makes you thirsty more so than jittery…but I guess it depends on your body and everyone is different :)

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  • so since the caffeine seeps into the skin pregnant women shouldn’t do this?

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  • Ohhhh maybe, that’s a good point. I didn’t think about that because I’m a few years away from that stage but you may want to avoid it. However, you could always use decaffeinated tea and that would work, no problem :-)

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  • Just wanted to say THANK YOU! I tried this today and it turned out great, I used 5 teabags instead of 4 because I have really fair skin and did 5 coats and its perfect! Thanks :)

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  • awww it’s my pleasure, I’m so happy it worked out so well for you :-)

    Happy new year!

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  • Wondering if the tea will stain tub and/or shower? I will definitely try this but don’t want to have to scrub tub 2 or 3 times a week.

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  • Mine didn’t…do you have a pure white tub/shower?

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  • can you use a sponge and dip it in the tea, then scrub your legs?

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  • I don’t recommend that since it would leave you really streaky…but if you figure out a different way to do it, let me know :)

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  • So i want to try this bc it sounds super easy. Was just wondering if you smell like tea for a long time? lol bc i don’t want to smell like tea : )

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  • haha you should be safe….and if for some reason you do, just spritz some perfume :)

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  • Does it really not leave your skin sticky after spraying?

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  • Nope! It’s pretty light and moisturizing :)

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  • I was a bit skeptical to try this but it works! I have fair skin and only did 4 coats. The only problem I had was streaking in a few places but I blame that on the bottle I used. I’m almost as dark as I was with 4 months of tanning. Pretty great!

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  • Yay! So happy it worked for you! Think of all the money (and skin damage) you could save by no longer having to hit the tanning beds or bake in the sun! High five, girl :)

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  • What an awesome tip. We moved to a very small town in Missouri from Southern Cali 18 months ago. I got so used to getting a tan just from running a long the beach etc, that I never thought about tanning, now my tan is gone. I don’t do fake n bake and from what I have seen of the local salon spray tan here…hmmmm….let’s just say, a pop of orange should not be your skin tone. Will definitely be trying this, especially the idea for Chai tea. What a great idea, thank you for sharing. I actually did a happy dance after reading this. :)

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  • baaahahaha love the ‘pop of orange’ comment! Happy you like the tips..let me know if it works out for you :-)

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  • Thanks so much for this great tip Vanessa. I tried it today and voila…no more awful winter pasty look. A healthy glow without tanning ..awesome!

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  • Awesome!!! That’s what I like to hear Barb :)

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  • Danielle Clark April 8, 2013 4:28 pm

    Can you use Earl Grey Tea?

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  • I haven’t tried it but if you do, please let me know how it turned out :)

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  • Vivian Fuentes April 17, 2013 12:07 pm

    Oh man! thanks for this!!! I can’t wait to try it. My sis loves tea, she has like 200 boxes of tea! I am sure she won’t notice if a few of the bags are missing. I’ll let you know how my “tan” comes out. :D

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  • hahaha it definitely sounds like you’re safe to ‘borrow’ a few ;)

    Looking forward to hearing your results!

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  • Is it essential to boil it? I am wondering if I don’t have time, can I just throw it together in the morning and let it sit and soak until the end of the day? Is the boiling just to let the tea soak in faster? I havn’t tried it yet but it sounds great! I have extremally pale skin so I hope it works!

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  • It’s probably best to boil it, yes. As for being strapped for time, you could always boil it while you’re getting ready in the morning then just pour your tea bags in and let them steep while you’re away. Would that work?

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  • What spray bottle did you use? Like was it more of a mister one? Because I was wondering if it would streak if the bottle didn’t spray evenly? Just wondering but this is an incredible idea!

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  • I used one that you could also use for spraying Windex on your windows or something to that effect :)

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  • Does this turn orange and if it does how do you get rid of it

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  • Nope it won’t turn orange on you whatsoever because there isn’t any orange pigment really in black tea. And it should wear off within a few days but if you want to get rid of it right away, here’s a post that might help –> http://topbeautybrands.com/how-to-fix-a-fake-tan/

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  • I wonder how a combination of self tanner and concentrated tea water would work. Some of the DARK self tanners I’ve used take 3 application before you get any color, and its still never dark enough. Wonder if the tea would help increase the effectiveness.

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  • Hmmm I’m not entirely sure as I’ve never tried mixing a self tanner with it. I’m wondering if it would make it a little runny? Or do you mean apply the tea after the self-tanner, separately?

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  • Hmmm thinking about givin it a try. I tried the cocoa powder and moisturizer one and it works pretty good wasn’t quite sure on how to apply it without smearing. First time trying it wasn’t to bad some streaks so was going to try this one does it stain ur tub?

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  • It shouldn’t stain your tub but if you do notice a little residue left over just give it a good scrub :)

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  • Just tried this and it works like a dream!! I am so excited! I used one big coffee cup full of hot water and put 4 tea bags in and let it steep while I was in the shower. When I was out, I dried off and sprayed over the bathtub! Didn’t stain my tub (I have a putty colored tub so idk if that helped?) and dried pretty quickly. I did 3 coats on my legs and 2 on my face. I am probably an entire shade darker and I could have done more coats and gone darker! The only issue I had was it was difficult to spray it on evenly .. I think it was the sprayer I used. Thanks for this amazing tip! I will definitely add this into my weekly routine!

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  • Hey, I actually found your site by looking at another DIY self tanner. there wasn’t a link, just a few words of instructions. 2 tbsp cocoa powder, mixed with your favorite moisturizer. I don’t know how well it works, but i’m as pale as a ghost, so i’ll try your idea first (i have tons of black tea in the house) and then i’ll try the cocoa just for fun! thanks for the tan!

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  • Nice! Let me know how it works out for you :)

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  • Am dark – skinned and want to do a tan for a photoshoot, please advice. Thanks

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  • Not sure what you need advising on? This remedy should work for any skin type :)

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  • Quick question, do you put the tea bags in the spray bottle with the water? Or do you strain the tea bags in the water?

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  • Strain the tea out of the water once you have it as dark as you want :)

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  • Could you use a hair dryer to dry it?

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  • Sure, if you wanted to. It doesn’t take long to soak in naturally, tho!

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  • Caffiene will tighten your skin n make it look more toned. I’m guessing if we’re using the DIY tan for summertime we’ll be showing some skin so I’d deffinately advise using caffinated tea, black tea has a lot of caffiene.

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  • What happens when you start sweating?

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  • If it starts to drip, just blot it so yo don’t get streaks. Otherwise, once it has set there shouldn’t be an issue.

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  • How long should I wait between sprays? My skin doesn’t dry all that fast and is pretty oily… Any tips or solutions?

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  • I would wait a few days at the very least. If you have naturally oily skin, just make sure to wipe off any drips that could cause staining. You want it to come out as even as posisble!

    Reply

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