As a spray tan artist I hear so many creative descriptions for pale skin:
• sour cream
• uncooked chicken
• the snow
• sand at the beach
• Casper the ghost

In other words PALE.

Within this post there may be affiliate links to products I am referring to. If you purchase a product through one of my links it will NOT cost you anything but I will receive compensation.

I am often asked, if very fair skin people can EVEN get a spray tan or use self tanning products?

The answer is ABSOLUTELY as long as you go to an educated and experienced spray tan artist who can choose the correct spray tan solution to use on your pale skin or can recommend the right sunless tanning product for fair skin types to use at home.

Or get educated yourself (keep reading for all the answers)

Finding the right spray tan professional can be a challenge, and I hear about fair girls being coached to choose the darkest spray tan formulation, being told that they are “so pale that they need the extra strength to create color in their skin”. This is NOT true, in fact it is the exact opposite.

Choosing the darkest sunless tanning product or spray tan solution will result in an ORANGE or a very off shade too dark for a fair person’s skin tone.

When I have a client that comes into my studio for a spray tan I have to do 2 things. Look at their skin and choose the correct spray tan solution formula and strength to apply to their skin to create a natural looking tan.

Notice I said NATURAL looking.

No one wants to look like they got a spray tan, they want to look like they are TAN.


This is where YOU need to be educated on what the best sunless tanning products are for your pale skin.

Keep reading to get to my shopping guide of what self tanners I recommend for pale skin.

Let’s go to school for a minute. I promise this is easy.

Spray tan training 101 for fair skin sunless tanning addicts.

Lesson 1: Sunless tanning products come in different strengths. In the spray tan industry, the strengths are listed in percentages of DHA. Normally something like 8%, 10%, 12%. Which is then changed into level 1, level 2, level 3 or Light, Medium, Dark for you as the client to choose from.

***Your spray tan artist should be guiding your choice of what the best spray tan solution is for your skin***

Lesson 2: The ingredient that actually creates your sunless tan is called DHA=Dihydroxyacetone.
A very big word that is nothing more than a sugar derivative of sugar cane or sugar beets that causes a color change with the amino acids that live in your skin creating your “tan”. Safe, effective, FDA approved for cosmetic use and been around since the 1960’s.

Lesson 3: The depth of color that a sunless tanning product creates is decided in 3 ways:
The strength of the product (what is the percentage of DHA in the product)
The amount of product that is applied to the skin
The length of time that the product is left on the skin

The darker spray tan solutions= higher percentage of DHA

Dark spray tan solution+Pale Skin= ORANGE.

Lesson 4: When you go to get a spray tan, make sure that your spray tan artist is experienced. If you are in a situation where you are having to decide yourself on the right tanning solution you should choose the lightest formula available. Even if they tell you otherwise at the spray tan shop. Less is more on very fair skin.

How does a fair girl get a spray tan without turning orange?

She has to embrace her natural peaches and cream skin and go for the GLOW!

I know that you want to be super savagely tan and your olive skinned girlfriend is SUPER DARK and looks amazing but… fair skin girls are just gonna have to settle for being “tan for you”. Embrace your pale skin tone and go for sunkissed!

When purchasing at home self tanning products look for products labeled for fair skin, lite in color or gradual tanner (glow cream)

But I had a  really bad spray tan experience and now I’m afraid to try it again.

Let’s address this situation.

A bad sunless tanning experience usually happens in one of the following ways:
The spray tan studio that you went to used a spray tan solution that was too strong for your skin
The spray tan tech applied too much spray tan solution to your skin
You choose a self tanning product that was for med/dark skin tones aka too strong for your skin
You applied too much of the self tanner to your skin
You purchased or went to a spray tan studio that used/sold a low quality sunless tanning products.

All of the above issues are easily fixed and now that you have completed your spray tan training 101 class you know all the rules! I LOVE showing a new client who had a bad experience how sunless done right can be beautiful! If you are ready to give a spray tan a try again then check out my spray tan tips page to get started.

In the sunless tanning industry you definitely get what you pay for. Always choose a quality spray tan studio or retail product. I promise your happy factor will go up with your pretty bronze glow.

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Now my favorite part, lets go shopping!

If you are a fan of at home self tanning products then check out some of my favorites for pale skin. Notice that these sunless tanning products have the words light/medium and gradual on the packaging. This is what you are looking for when shopping. You may also notice that the “drug store” brands of self tanners are missing from this list. I find that my pale skin clients have a really hard time using them. They tend toward a lower quality of ingredients and are a golden color to start with often pushing pale skin to the orange side. High quality ingredients always produce a better sunless tan and more realistic color. As always, I included organic and all natural options because I know that is what you are asking me for and I love them too!

Kathryn’s Top 5 Self Tanners for Pale Skin.

1. St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Body Moisturizer, 6.7 Fl Oz

Shop this gradual tan moisturizer on Amazon

St Tropez has been producing great sunless products for a while now. This enriched, nourishing body moisturizer combines your moisturizer with a subtle sunless tanner for a healthy touch of bronze that develops in 4-8 hours. Infused with soothing aloe vera and eco-cert approved DHA (an all natural tanning agent), this lotion helps give you smoother skin while building a gradual golden tan, every day.

2. Vita Liberata Fabulous Gradual Self Tanning Lotion, 6.76 fl.oz.

Shop this gradual self tanner on Amazon

A superbly hydrating lotion that applies clear like a moisturizer and then develops to a beautiful sunkissed glow that can be deepened with daily use.
Gentle enough for dry and sensitive skin types, and creates a natural-looking tan that fades evenly after four to seven days.
• 100% natural, formulated with certified organic botanicals
• Suits all skin tones and is gentle to sensitive skin types
• Completely free from parabens, perfumes, alcohols and other toxins
• Zero transfer thanks to gradual self tanner formula

3. Vita Liberata Phenomenal Self Tan -Tinted Mousse, Medium, 4.22 fl. oz

Shop this tinted mousse in Medium on Amazon

Vita Liberata has a wonderful line of luxury self tanning products. The self Tan Mousse in medium is perfect for fair skin. The mousse is fast and easy-to-apply, and has an odor inhibitor for a natural-looking, long lasting streak-free tan. Contains natural and organic extracts and zero toxins for a healthy sunless tan.
• Formulated without parabens, harsh chemicals, perfume / fragrance, alcohol, animal derivatives, petrochemicals, sulphates and silicones
• Formulated with certified organic and natural extracts for anti ageing, skin enhancement and a natural tan

4. Self Tanner – Organic and Natural Ingredients Sunless Tanning Lotion and Best Bronzer Golden Buildable Light, Medium or Dark Gradual Tan for Body and Face 7.5 oz

Shop this buildable sunless tanning lotion on Amazon

Start with a single application.  If you want to go darker, simply reapply the next day.  This buildable sunless tanning lotion will help you achieve just the right color for you.

5. Bondi Sands – Self Tanning Mist – Light/Medium – 8.8oz

Shop this self tanning mist on Amazon

This self tanning mist consists of a salon quality formula with a sweet, coconut scent to awaken your senses. It provides an effortless application that is streak free, enriched with Aloe Vera for soft smooth skin and it dries in seconds for a natural, flawless tan.

Takeaway self tanning tips for pale skin:

  • Go to a reputable experienced spray tan artist
  • Always choose the lowest level or lightest spray tan solution/retail product for your fair skin
  • Don’t go crazy when you apply self tanners, light layers for a pretty glow.
  • Remember less is more!

Need to BOOK A SPRAY TAN? Head over to the contact page for all the infos.

As a small business owner I can’t stock all the amazing products that are available in the world of sunless tanning but I can give you my professional opinion.

Love and Sunshine Kathryn Signature

Hi, I’m Kathryn! I’m here to help you have the best spray tanning experience possible. When I’m not creating beautiful sunless tans, I am working with my students or writing for my blog sharing everything I know about how to get the perfect spray tan, how to give the perfect spray tan, and how to build a boutique spray tan business.

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