DIY Self-Tanner Fail….A Cautionary Tale

diy self tanner

I know you might find this hard to believe….but not every post I do for this blog turns out perfectly. :-)  Witness the great potato crash of August, 2011 and the hard boiled eggs disaster of January, 2012!

But most of the time, when I have a “fail”…I don’t waste your time and mine sharing it on the blog. I just move onto the next idea. For example, a few months ago I attempted to make my own version of gluten-free top ramen noodles for my son Kell because he used to LOVE to eat those pre-celiacs. I worked so long and hard on them…and they were AWFUL! :-( But I just chalked it up to experience, dried my tears, and moved on.

Today I had another unforeseen outcome to a DIY attempt…but I feel like it was such a spectacular FAILURE that I simply had to share it as a cautionary tale if nothing else. :-)

So…what WAS this spectacular failure you ask?

I’m a little embarrassed to even say I attempted such a silly idea!  lol. I mean I really should have known better.

But it’s getting so hot here and I was dying to put shorts on and my legs are so WHITE!  I let my desperation cloud my judgment. :-)


diy self tanner

After an embarrassingly long amount of time spent researching this…I decided that DIY self-tanners mainly followed two “recipes”. One using black tea and one using cocoa powder.

Since I didn’t have any tea on hand…I decided to go with the cocoa powder technique. In hindsight I think I might have had better success with the “tea tan”…but the world will never know because I am NOT doing this again. ;-)

All the cocoa powder self-tanner recipes were about the same:


diy self tanner

Mix together cocoa powder and any kind of lotion at a 1:4 ratio (1/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1 cup of lotion) in a bowl.

Rub it onto your skin after taking an exfoliating bath or shower. (So your skin is nice and ready for a smooth application.)


diy self tanner

diy self tanner

After applying a tiny amount of my cocoa powder fake tanner, the results weren’t too bad. They weren’t that GOOD, but they weren’t that bad either. You can see the tiniest bit of “tan” there.

But honestly, if you didn’t KNOW I’d put on self-tanner, you would never notice a difference, it was so slight. So I decided a second application was in order…and that is when things went very wrong.


diy self tanner

The more I rubbed, the streakier it got! Ummm…even my lily white legs looked better than this mess!

And not only that….but even after I let it dry THOROUGHLY…all it took was one gentle swipe with my fingers and you got this……

diy self tanner

Wow. lol. I’m glad I wasn’t COUNTING on this self-tanner session to work because I would have been very disappointed!


diy self tanner

Luckily it was more of a nuisance than anything….of course I’m not sure if this bath towel will ever be the same. :-/

Moral of the story….save your sanity and your towels and stick with your spray-on tans, or your fake tan in a bottle (just don’t go in those evil suntan beds! Just say NO!)


In case you were curious about the other DIY Self-Tanner that I DIDN’T try, here it is. Make sure to let us know if you try it out. :-)


diy self tanner

Black Tea Self-Tanner


1 cup Water
5 Black Tea Bags

diy self tanner


Brew tea in one cup of HOT water. After it has cooled, put in a spray bottle and apply. Allow to dry completely before dressing or you might stain your clothing.




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  1. Terri S says

    ha ha!! thanks for saving the rest of us white-legged woman from this cocoa powder horror!!

  2. Tres says

    Pintester I believe tested the tea self tanner and had no luck with it other than dirtying a bathtub. I say rock your white legs!

  3. Txgg says

    HaHa that sounds like some cockamamie thing I might try! But fortunately I did not. I used Jergens Daily Moisturizer Natural Glow. And it worked beautifully. I am now on Waikiki at the Hilton Hawaiian Village blending in with the “natives”. At least no one at home said anything because it looks so natural. Thanks for the laugh though!

  4. Debi Savicky says

    just to let you know, I tried the tea and it didn’t do anything, total waste of tea and time!

  5. Audrey says

    As a very fair-skinned person myself, I agree…”rock your white legs!” That’s what I do. :)

  6. Lucy Smith says

    Hi Jill

    With all the DIY you try, there are bound to be times when a trial doesn’t work out as good as you’d like. You’ve had much more success than failures, so I have the highest regard for all the great things you are successful with! I am sure that white towel will come up lovely with your home made washing powder!!! I don’t doubt you at all Jill!!

    I am grateful for all the great items you share – love the hints & tips to use household items for cleaning etc., I usually share them on my FB page and have some friends who share them too! Of course I do pass on your website details too!! ;)

    I’ve shared the FAB mattress cleaner with quite a few friends – love a clean bed!!

    Keep up the great work you do!! Hope life is treating you & yours well!

    Lucy UK

  7. says

    Thank you for sharing Debi! Like I said, I was NOT going to try another one! LOL. But hopefully you just saved another poor soul who might have. ;-)

  8. says

    Awwww Lucy! You are so sweet! Thank you. :-) Because of people like you I definitely will keep on trying….even if there are a few “fails” along the way. :-)

  9. says

    Thanks Jillee for giving me the biggest belly laugh in ages!! I nearly fell off my chair when I scrolled down to the pic of your streaky leg! Rest assured though, I am definitely laughing with you, not at you. After many self tan mishaps my daughter and I were discussing only yesterday our plans for this year. We are both pretty white at the mo, although it is so cold here in England that I am probably blue!!


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