Fake 'N Bake

b.tan glow your own way self-tanner in a review of the product
Romper / b.tan

This $10 Self-Tanner Takes Me From Ghostly To Glowing Overnight

It’s a confidence boost in a bottle.

Originally Published: 
Had To Share
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

When you grow up in Florida surrounded by surfer girls and skater boys with sun-bleached streaks in their hair and gorgeous tans, it can give you a real complex. As a dark-haired kid with fair skin (as in, you can see my veins with the naked eye), I gave myself plenty of sunburns trying to look more like the bronze girlies all around me. This went on until I was much older, when my mom was diagnosed with skin cancer and had to have a lesion removed from her hairline. That’s when I swore off the sun for good and dove headlong into self-tanning.

I’ve tried many a self-tanning mousse and spray, sticking with the St. Tropez Express for years (I even used it for my wedding day). The only thing I didn’t love about it, and all self-tanners in general, was the waiting period between applying and getting to rinse it off. I have a toddler now — a few hours straight of sitting completely still without touching anything is just not easy to come by. So, when I saw the b.tan Glow Your Own Way Tan Gel on TikTok, I knew I had to try it. Users said you apply it like a lotion and when it’s dry, you just get dressed and... live your life. And after one use, it immediately replaced my old favorite.


Price: The price varies by store, from $9.97 at Walmart to $12.99 at Ulta.

Size: 16 ounces

Colors: B.tan’s shades go, lightest to deepest, as follows: dark, darker, darkest, insanely dark, and darkest possible. It’s confusing, I agree. All of these shades are available in mousse form. In the gel, you can choose between darkest (my fave) and insanely dark.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a summer tan without exposing their skin to harmful UV rays, and those who hate the whole apply-self-tan-and-sit-around-for-hours routine.

Pro-tip: I have dry skin, but this goes on completely patch-free when I apply it right on top of a layer of body lotion (I use the Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream).

How I use the b.tan Glow Your Own Way self-tanner

If you’ve ever self-tanned, you know it takes some practice. Refined over many years and numerous mishaps, here’s my process when using this product:

  1. Shower, exfoliate, and shave. I like to dry brush before I hop in the shower and use a sugar scrub in the shower because I’m a more-is-more type of gal, but I’m sure one method is plenty. Then shave where you like.
  2. Apply lotion all over. Most self-tan how-tos will tell you to apply lotion to dry areas on your body, like ankles, knees, and elbows, but I go for a thin layer of moisturizer all over.
  3. Self-tan from the bottom up. Pump the gel into your hands and rub it into your legs. I start on my calf or thigh and, when I have a little less product on my hands, blend it over areas like my knees and ankles. You could use a tanning mitt, but I find the Glow Your Own Way gel streaks less when I use my hands. Rub it in until it’s fully absorbed, then move on to the next area of your body until you’re done.
  4. Wash your hands thoroughly. If you’re going to go mitt-less, you’ll want to suds up your hands right after you finish tanning, since your palms don’t naturally tan and having them match the rest of your skin just doesn’t look quite right. I keep a cheap toothbrush around to scrub around my nails and cuticles so that the product doesn’t cling to those areas either.
  5. Once the tan is dry, get dressed and go. In about eight hours, you’ll look like you just got back from a tropical vacation. I prolong the results by moisturizing every day. If I want to stay tan, I’ll usually reapply after one week.

The results

I don’t know what it is about me, but many tanners just make me look orange. Maybe it’s just that when you’re the same color as printer paper, any pigment at all looks stark. But the b.tan gel never does me dirty — it really looks like a tan I earned the old-fashioned way. Here are a bunch of legs, all mine, for a look at what I mean:

Even with a green pedi on fake turf, it still doesn’t look crazy orange.
Fresh coat of b.tan from the night before. *Chef’s kiss.*
No tan here (clearly).

The packaging

I love that this gel comes in a bottle with a pump versus a squeeze tube; I just prefer using a pump to wrangling the last bits of lotion out of a tube when it’s running low. I like that the bottle is clear so I can see how much product I have left, and 16 ounces is a lot of product for the price. I’ve had my bottle for two summers now.

One downside: the pump gives you a good-sized dollop of self-tanner, and it can be hard to dole out less if you only need a small amount. Not a big deal to me, but something to keep in mind.

The scent

That weird self-tanner, biscuit-y smell found in many brands is not the vibe here. The b.tan Glow Your Own Way gel smells very lightly of coconut, but once it dries I don’t notice it much. The next day after the tan develops, every so often I can smell a little bit of that signature self-tan scent, but it’s much, much less obvious than any other product I’ve used.

One thing that helps me not get whiffs of the self-tanner smell all day, regardless of what product I use, is not applying it close to my underarms. I don’t remember where I read it, and I don’t know why it works, but it really does help.

The ingredients

The ingredient list on the Glow Your Own Way self-tanner is, as you’d expect, a bunch of chemical names that don’t mean much to anyone who’s not a chemist. But you’ll recognize the ones at the top, meaning they make up the bulk of the formula: water, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and coconut and sugar cane extracts. The Glow Your Own Way gel gets bonus points for being vegan and formulated without parabens, and b.tan doesn’t test on animals.

If you’re pregnant, you’ll be glad to know that the b.tan gel also meets experts’ self-tanner criteria for being safe to use in pregnancy: it’s not a spray so you won’t breathe in any chemicals, it contains no pregnancy-unsafe skincare ingredients (like retinol), and its ingredient list is short, meaning the number of chemicals in the formula is kept to a minimum.

Pros & cons


  • It’s one of the least expensive self-tanners on the market.
  • It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and formulated without parabens.
  • The formula includes vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to moisturize skin.
  • You can apply it and go about your day — no worrying about your color guard getting everywhere or showering the tanner off by a certain time.
  • It’s the least streaky self-tanner I’ve ever used.
  • I don’t have to keep buying tanning mitts to use it like I would with a mousse product.


  • If you need a color guard to help you apply a fake tan, you won’t find one here.
  • If you try to layer the product up for a darker color, it doesn’t really do much. I’m guessing this is by design, so that if you overlap here and there while applying it (since it’s clear), you won’t have obvious patches.
  • It takes about eight hours to develop, so you do still have to plan ahead if you want to be tan for a certain event. There are other products that bronze instantly, like the Jergens No Wait Tropical Tan mousse, which I use occasionally when I’m short on time.

The final verdict

While spending hours on my personal care sounds divine, it’s not realistic for my life right now — but I still want to feel confident in shorts, dresses, and bathing suits this summer. I can slap this tan on in a few minutes, get dressed, and go about my day, or hop straight into bed without worrying about tan transferring onto my clothes or sheets. The color never pulls orange on me, lasts about seven days, and fades beautifully.


This product helps me feel confident all summer in just a few minutes’ time, once a week.

Had To Share highlights the products and finds that Romper editors and contributors love so much, we just had to share in the group chat.

This article was originally published on