What Is 'Quarantanning'? 10 Ways To Self-Tan Safely At Home (& Avoid The Beach)

We're still in a pandemic, after all.

What is "quarantanning" and how you can do it safely at home LStockStudio / shutterstock

It's summer time, and under normal circumstances, it would be the time of year that people take tropical vacations, host cookouts, or visit pools and beaches.

It would also be the time where we get more sunlight and our skin has that summer glow. But as people are trying to spend a lot more time at home, they've had to find ways to adapt their summer traditions in a more isolated way.

What is "quarantanning"?


RELATED: 10 Ways To Have A Summer Vacation While Social Distancing

According to Dr. Adam Mamelak, an Austin-based dermatologist, "quarantanning" is the new at-home tanning phenomenon that's frequently making appearances on Instagram and Tik-Tok. Says Mamelak, “It is defined as tanning in your backyard or residence while in quarantine."

However, dermatologists are fans of the sunless version of this trend. That is, the best way to keep a warm summer glow is with sunless tanning products, not laying out by a socially-distanced pool or in your sheltering-in-backyard-place.

So, quarantanning still means getting tan, but doing so without harmful UV rays.


“Just because it might feel like the world is coming to an end, it's no reason to expedite it by getting skin cancer!” Mamelak adds. "While we might not be out socializing like we used to, quarantanning still offers a great opportunity for a golden glow on a Zoom call. It also gives us a chance to try new products without the risk of an orange incident (as some of the older spray tans can have a bit of an orange tint to them).”

If you're feeling the desire for a great sunless tan, here's how to tan safely.

Well, not just safely, but smartly (and successfully), with the proper procedures and best self-tanners to give you that summer glow.

1. Take proper preparations.


This is absolutely the most important first step in your tanning routine.

“Imagine your skin as an artist’s canvas. It’s important to prepare properly to give the most flawless results,” says Jill McLean, independent tanning expert and Vita Liberata Brand Educator. 

So, start by exfoliating your skin with an oil-free body scrub, paying particular attention to dry areas such as elbows and knees.

Why oil-free? Explains McLean, “Residue from oily products creates a barrier on the surface of the skin preventing the most flawless results. Once you’ve exfoliated, remove any unwanted hair and keep skin clean and free from any moisturizer, lotion, or perfume before you tan.”


Try these products:

  • Vita Liberata Super Fine Skin Polish (Amazon)
  • Isola Lemongrass + Coffee Body Scrub (Isola Body)

RELATED: 20 Best Self-Tanning Spray Tans To Use At Home For A Perfect Glow

2. Choose the right formula.

Some tanning formulas can last 2-3 weeks. This is great if you don't want to redo it every few days.

Says McLean, “If you have drier skin, use a hydrating tanning lotion to ensure your skin is extra-moisturized and help create an even finish.” If you want a little less commitment, use a product that doesn’t last quite as long, or builds gradually.

Try these products:

  • WEN Bella Spirit Self Tanning Bronzing Mist (QVC)
  • Bali Body Self Tanning Mousse (Ulta)
  • Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam (Amazon)


A post shared by Coco & Eve (@cocoandeve) on Jun 25, 2020 at 6:01am PDT

3. Use the correct amount of product.


One of the most important parts of a natural-looking tan is not to apply too much product.

“This can make for an uneven application, leaving you with an unnatural looking result. A little goes a long way, and remember: if you want to go deeper, you can always add more. Aim for 1-2 pumps of mousse for each arm, lower and upper leg, torso and chest,” McLean advises.

Whatever type of tanner you use, remember that a little goes a long way.

RELATED: 75 Funny Summer Puns For Instagram Captions Shellebrating The Season

4. Use a tanning mitt.

If you’ve ever wondered whether the tanning mitt is really necessary, trust us, it’s essential! After all, do you really want all the product leftover on your hands?


Adds McLean, “The soft flock surface of the mitt allows you to evenly distribute and blend the self-tan onto your skin. It also helps to protect the palms of your hand from the tan, making sure you don’t end up with unnaturally tanned hands.”

Try these products:

  • Vita Liberata Luxury Tanning Mitt (Amazon)
  • St. Tropez Double Sided Luxe Tan Applicator Mitt (Sephora)


A post shared by St.Tropez (@sttropeztan) on Apr 12, 2020 at 1:00am PDT

5. Be careful of tanning your hands.


One of the biggest giveaways of a faux glow is over-tanned hands, wrists and palms. “Notice that your skin is naturally lighter towards your wrist, and the palms of our hands don’t tan at all,” McLean says. “When you’re tanning, the inside of your arm gently blends towards your wrist, so make sure not to leave a line at the base of your hand.”

Once you’ve finished tanning your arms, use the product that’s left on the mitt to gently sweep over the top of your hand, up towards your fingers, for natural coverage. Then, finally, take a damp cloth or makeup wipe and sweep in between your fingers and over the top of your knuckles to remove any excess product.  

6. The same goes for your feet!

After your hands, feet are the next biggest giveaway of a sunless tan. So, be careful of applying too much to your ankles and notice where the skin would be naturally tanned.


“Similar to hands, there’s no need to apply extra product to the mitt when tanning the top of your feet. Simply sweep the mitt gently over the surface and blend for a natural finish,” suggests McLean.

To make sure you don't have leftover product on your feet, take a damp cloth or wipe, and touch up the sides of your feet and in between toes.

RELATED: The 4 Types Of Sunscreens You Must Use (Unless You Want Skin Cancer)

7. Let the tan develop.

Some tanners need to let the tan develop over 4-6 hours to ensure you get the best results. How can you make sure you do this?

“During this time, you should avoid contact with water and make sure you don’t sweat, as both of these can affect the development of the tan and leave you with uneven results,” warns McLean.


Some people choose to apply their tan before bed and rinse it off the next morning. But you can also wear clothing that covers your arms and legs to avoid skin sweating during the night and ensure you wake up with an even tan.

8. Don’t forget your face.

Tanning your face can be a really stressful proposition and, in a lot of ways, it's like skincare meets self-tan. You want something that's buildable and lightweight for flawless results that look natural.


To do this, McLean suggets the following: “For a foolproof faux glow, make sure that you give your complexion a healthy glow, too. Some tanners can be used on the face and body, either on their own or mixed with your moisturizer, for a more subtle glow. You can also use a bronzing makeup.”

Try these products:

  • Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Face Mineral Lotion in Fair to Light (Target)
  • Tournesol Sun Serum Glow Boosting Tanning Drops (Amazon)
  • Vita Liberata Self-Tanning Anti-Age Serum (Amazon)


A post shared by VITA LIBERATA (@vitaliberata) on Mar 14, 2020 at 11:38am PDT

9. Be aware of streaks and self-tanner messes.


One of the hardest things about self-tanning is making sure the product gives you an even tan. Using creams, mitts and sprays can cause an uneven look to your tan because of the distribution of the formula.

“I love self-contained tanning products; therefore, I love Tournesol SunPop Self-Tanning Towelettes that were created to evenly distribute this formula so there's no streaking and no mess,” says tanning expert and co-creator of Tourneso, Samantha Magill.

10. Wash your hands.

It's always important to wash your hands right after applying self-tanner. Otherwise, you'll end up with those blotches of tanner or bronzer stained on, and all over whatever you touch. And really, who wants that?


Try these products:

  • Baylis & Harding Sea Kelp & Peppermint Goodness Natural Hand Wash (Target)
  • ModelCo Exfoliating Self-Tan Remover Soap (ModelCo)

RELATED: 21 Best SPF Lotions & Sunblocks For Every Skin Type

Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her.

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