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7 Ways to DIY a tan and which recipes are actually worth trying

When self-tanners replaced the actual act of roasting in the sun for the sake of bronzed skin (at the expense of our health), we thought: It’s about time. But many women are taking things one step further and eliminating chemicals from their tanning routine by cooking up their own self-tanning products right in their kitchens.

While it may seem odd at first to DIY a self-tanner — my burning fear would be that I would accidentally dye all of my cabinets brown — we should probably be more wary of products that boast a laundry list of unfamiliar additives.

“Take a look at the ingredients of your bronzer that you’re using at home,” said Anne-Marie Faiola, founder of Handmade Beauty Box. “Do you recognize half of the ingredients? Probably not. Odds are, it’s time to simplify your bronzing routine and start using natural micas and oxides to match your skin’s ideal hues, without an overload of unnecessary chemicals.”

Faiola created her own natural bronzing recipes, but before we eagerly share them, she was kind enough to weigh in on some of the most popular DIY self-tanning recipes we found online. Here’s how they add up:

1. Black tea method

Boil 16 ounces of water and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Pour the liquid over 8 bags of organic black tea and let them steep for at least 8 minutes. Remove the tea bags, let the tea cool really well, and apply after you’ve carefully exfoliated your skin.

Faiola says: “This is worth a try! I have never tested this recipe personally, but I have read a few credible blogs that say it works, and the before-and-after pictures look pretty good. The only downside to bear in mind is that this will easily come off with water contact, so run for cover if it starts raining — and be aware should you want to take this DIY tan to the pool.”

More: How to contour your body with self-tanner and bronzer

2. Cinnamon and spice

Mix together the following ingredients: 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder, 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder, 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 15 drops of an essential oil like rose otto, lavender or rosemary.

Faiola says: “I would probably scratch this recipe altogether as cinnamon is not something that you’ll want to put on your face. It’s a skin irritant and potentially a skin sensitizer.”

3. Cocoa and lotion

Mix 1/4 cup of cocoa with a natural white lotion or lotion with SPF and apply.

Faiola says: “This would smell delicious (and there’s no harm to it), but I have read that it goes on a little streaky and rubs off quickly. I’m just not sure that I, personally, would want chocolate all over my body. That being said, I do love using cocoa powder for a natural colorant in soaps and lip balms — you can mix it with shea butter or beeswax for a fun, nude-tinted lip.”

4. Tea and coconut oil

Steep 3 or 4 black tea bags in about 3/4 cup of hot water. As the tea brews, combine 1/3 cup of raw cocoa powder with 1/2 cup of cocoa butter in a blender. Mix half of the steeped black tea with 1/2 cup of sesame or coconut oil and add it to the blender. Blend and then add remaining tea.

More: 35 Spray tanning tips from experts

Faiola says: “It will probably be difficult to blend the black tea with the cocoa butter and coconut oil, as the mixture will most likely separate unless you use an emulsifier. It would produce color, but the end results would likely look a little streaky, much like the cocoa and lotion recipe.”

5. Oysters, beans and seeds

There are several sites that suggest eating foods rich in copper, like oysters, as well as soy, pumpkin seeds, lima beans and sesame seeds, can actually increase melanin.

Faiola says: “I have read that carrots, tomatoes, spinach, kale and olive oil are ‘natural tan superfoods,’ but no medical professionals have proven how much you actually have to eat to see results. I eat a ton of kale every single day, and while there are certainly skin benefits, I’m not sure that it’s giving me a tan. I do know that these foods contain antioxidants and vitamins which are fantastic for clear, even skin, which looks beautiful in any shade.”

Faiola recommends the following DIY self-tanning recipes. Her bronzing lotion concoction which uses an aloe lotion base, gold sparkle mica, bronze mica and burnt sugar fragrance oil. Or this body bronzer recipe that utilizes a perfume base, coconut citrus sorbet and 1 tablespoon of dark bronzer.

More: Why you should just say no to tanning

Always exfoliate your skin prior to application, and make the B-word your mantra when applying a self-tanner. “When using a DIY self-tanner of any kind, blend, blend, blend!” Faiola said. “Make sure you look at your tan in the sunlight and then adjust your coloring if needed. If you’re applying a DIY bronzing powder (instead of the liquid), highlight your chin, cheeks, nose and forehead to naturally bronze your face.”

Your inner bronzed goddess will thank you.

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