The Art of the Fake Tan: How to Look Like You’ve Spent a Week in Saint-Tropez

Sometimes I get lost in looking at old, glamorous photographs. I envision myself as Brigitte Bardot, sailing on the high seas in Saint-Tropez, earning that perfect, deep-set tan perfectly curated over 12 weeks of summering in the south of France. But then I hear my toddler scream for me while the doorbell rings while the dogs start barking and within 30 seconds, reality sets back in. No, I won’t ever be Brigitte. But guess what people? I’ve learned that I can get that tan…

Just take a quick stroll down CVS and you’ll see that there are hundreds of self-tanning products on the market. I’ve been the guinea pig of enough of ‘em to tell you that not all self-tanners are created equal. Orange skin? I’ve gotten it. The spolotchy-streakey vibe? I’ve rocked it on numerous occasions. But after enough horrific experiences, I daresay I’ve come up with nearly-perfect, 3-step regime. Behold:

Molly Sims’ Guide to the Perfect Self-Tan:


Before you do anything- shave and exfoliate your entire body. I love this sugar scrub by Lalicious. But I should warn you, this product seriously smells like a cupcake. I find it to be a sweet bath time treat, but if it leaves you hankering for a cupcake, don’t say I didn’t warn you. I also love the orange sugar scrub by Bliss, this honey scrub by Burts Bees and this argan one by Josie Maran.

Mit & Buff

This mitt by St. Tropez was a real game changer in my self-tanning tenure. I’d never thought I’d say it, but my days of the streaky tan are finally behind me!! I put a dollop of St. Tropez’s body self-tanner on the mitt and scrub around my skin, starting at my legs and working my way around my body. There are lots of self-tanners you can try so feel free to shop around. I love the Avene self tanning lotion--I go through this stuff like water. Whichever product I use, I always top it with some body oil. It gives my tan that extra glow and makes my skin feel silky smooth. If I'm feeling luxurious, I go for Bobbi Brown's beach Body Oil. But I also love this Neutrogena one and any type of pure Jojoba oil (they even sell it at Trader Joe's!!) will make your skin look like magic!

Wait it out

My biggest tanning catastrophes come when I put my clothes on too quickly. Bake a cake, watch TV, call a friend—do whatever you have to do to let that tanner dry. I promise it’s worth it!!

The best part about the faux glow? You don’t need to pile a ton of makeup to look like a million bucks. I like to top my look with a lightweight tinted moisturizer (Laura Mercier makes a great one) and a coral lip/cheek stain. Add that to a quick spritz of sea salt spray topped with a bright maxi dress with some wedges and Voila! My summer look is complete!!