How to Find the Right Shade For Your Sunless Tan

Maybe sun tanning might not be for you. You could be worried about the UV rays being especially harmful during peak hours.

But thanks to self-tanners, you can now tan at home while choosing the spray tan color for you.

Advantages to Self-Tanning

Sun tanning is the natural way of getting a tan. All it requires (well apart from the important pre-tanning steps like exfoliating, moisturizing, and putting on sunscreen) is to lie down for ten to twenty minutes.

But such a simple method of tanning does come with some disadvantages. The first one is because of its health risk.

The biggest risk to sun tanning is the damage caused by harmful rays of the sun. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause your skin to burn or lead to skin cancer.

Ultraviolet light (UV) can be unpredictable in its intensity. However, there are peak hours when the sun’s UV light is most intense.

This is why it is possible to tan before peak hours (early morning until 10:00 am) or after (4:00 pm until sunset).

You can tan during those times to avoid peak hours. But not everyone may have the time to sun tan before 10:00 am or after 4:00 pm.

You might have some other matters to attend to during those times. There is also the possibility of raining during those hours. This makes the routine inconsistent as you have to check if it will rain when you are free to tan.

With the extreme intensity of UV rays posing a health risk and the unpredictability of the weather present, is there another way to tan?

Self-tanning solves these two issues by tanning anytime without having to go outside.

The different shades of self-tanners

There are some things to choose from when you go buy your self-tanner. The one thing you will come across is the shade of the tanner.

There are different shades available when it comes to self tanning. They may vary depending on what self-tanner brand you choose from, but there are four base shades that you might be familiar with.

These four shades are red, brown, violet, and green.

Out of the four, brown is considered the universal “one size fits all choice.” Well, in this case, it’s more of one shade that fits all. You can’t go wrong with this shade as it works well for almost anyone.

The other three are more specific and depend on the type of skin tone you have. Violet shades work best with warmer skin tones and green works with cooler skin tones.

As for red, they also fall into the same camp as violet.

Now that you are familiar with the common self-tanner shades, this leads to the first step in choosing the right shade of tanner.

Choosing the right shade

Identifying your skin tone is a good way to figure out which shade to choose.

There are different skin tones with different variations, but here are three common types of skin tones.


This is the lightest skin tone and is commonly referred to as fair or pale.

While fair can be considered another level of light, it is usually lumped together with light.

If this is your skin tone, it is wise to go for a lighter shade of self-tanner. This will result in a more natural glow that compliments your fair skin.


Medium skin tone ranges from olive to brown. As the name suggests, the medium range lies between light and dark skin tones.

Medium skin tone already has a tan with them, so this skin type is browner than the light one.

You can get a nice glow for your skin or go further into the last level of skin tones. It should be easier for both options, especially with the latter, since it’s closer to the last skin tone level.


The last skin tone may make you think that tanning is no longer necessary. But if you want a more glowing type of skin, then this is still possible.

There is another thing you can watch out for apart from your skin tone. This is your skin’s undertone.

Undertone is much more subtle and difficult to identify. The best way to identify your skin undertone is to check the color of your veins. There are three skin undertones: cool, warm, and neutral.

A cool undertone has a pinkish tone to your appearance.

The warm undertone has a golden yellow or regular yellow tone to your skin.

Neutral gives off a greenish-blue to gray hue on your skin.


Identifying your skin tone is just one way of figuring out the correct shade for you. You might be thinking about what you want out of your self-tanner.

This is more in line with what kind of tan you want.

You might want to just get a nice glow to compliment your natural skin color, or you want to darken your skin tone. These considerations will help you decide what kind of tanner you will use.

At the same time, you still need to consider your own skin tone to see which tanner or shade will help you achieve your desired tan properly.

Your skin will affect the turnout of your new tan. The DHA (dihydroxyacetone) in the tanner will react differently depending on the skin tone.

This is why there are recommendations for different skin tones. Even then, the turnout might still be different.

Patch tests are a good way to see whether or not the tanner you use will give the desired outcome. Apply a small amount of tanner on a small part of your skin and see the results.

If the results are to your liking, it is the one for you. If not, then you can try using a different product.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to avoid an orange-looking tan?

Applying too much self-tanner is a reason why your tan turnout is orange. Apply a moderate amount of self-tanner to avoid this from happening.

Are there other things I should know before putting on self-tanner?

The pre-tanning steps are as vital as choosing the right self-tanner shade.

Before putting on a self-tanner, you should do things such as exfoliating, moisturizing, and applying sunscreen.

How long should you wait after putting on a self-tanner to shower?

It should take about 6 to 8 hours for it to take effect. It is also best to take a quick shower with lukewarm water as it can still wash off if you take too long.


Getting a tan has now been made easy as you need not worry about the harsh effects of UV rays and think about when is a good time to go outside.

With self-tanning, you can tan in your own free time and get the results you desire by having a golden glow.p