DIY: Self Tanner

Self tanner

Chicago is teasing us with summer-like temperatures, and the urge to bronze is great.  I’ve tanned (both outdoors and indoors) and used self-tanner in the past, but am no longer willing to bake myself or use chemicals I cannot pronounce.  So, I went on a search for home-made tanners:

Natural e-How recipe
Less-than-natural e-How recipe
Examiner recipe
e-How options

The popular bases for home-made tanners were cocoa powder and black tea – obvious once you think about it.  I digested as much information as I cared to at this point and formulated a game plan.  I liked the idea of using tea over cocoa powder because the cocoa sounded sticky and maybe a little messy.  Though, I’m sure you end up smelling delicious.  I tried a version using black tea:

Oil-based tanner: (pictured)
black tea
baby/body oil
essential oil, optional (I ended up not adding any)

Directions: steep black tea in about 1 cup water until you’ve extracted ample color (approx. 30 mins); add slowly to body oil; add drops of essential oil of your choice to your fragrance level preference.

I slowly added the black tea and emulsified with a small whisk, periodically testing the oil on my leg to get the desired color.  The tanner in the picture to the right looks really extreme, but it doesn’t actually apply nearly as dark.  The solution settles and separates, but a quick shake before application does the trick.  As a side note, you can see the tomato plants I bought at the farmer’s market in the background!

Depending on how this ends up working, I might try a cocoa powder tanner based:

Cream-based tanner:
cocoa powder
body lotion
essential oil, optional (since I suspect the cocoa will have a pretty strong scent, I recommend using an oil that is complementary, such as vanilla or almond)

Directions: add cocoa powder slowly to body lotion until desired color is achieved; add drops of essential oil

UPDATE: I tried to the cocoa-based tanner mixed with body lotion, and did not have success.  The lotion absorbs into the skin as normal, but the cocoa is left sitting on the skin surface and rubs off.  Not recommended.

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