Articles, Recommendations & Reviews

How to Get Beautiful Tan Legs Overnight

✯ This site uses affiliate links – Full Affiliate Disclosure

For those of you who haven’t yet used fake tanner or who have done it and hated how it looked – this is the tutorial for you – in a few easy steps I’ll share the secrets on how to get beautiful, tan legs overnight.

If you have issues with ugly legs and feel embarrassed about birthmarks, scars or varicose veins, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered there too!

My natural legs aren’t pretty. I could probably win a contest for the most pale, pasty, dull, and unattractive natural skin color.

pale legsFriends have called me “Nosferatu” (an old-timey vampire), “translucent”, and my skin color has been compared to the dead chickens in the freezer aisle. On top of that I bruise easily, so I usually have noticeable blue spots on my ultra-white legs.

But, when I follow this routine, I feel like I have the legs of a supermodel.

So, if I can pull off this transformation, I know you can too!

It’s actually not hard at all and gives your legs some much needed pampering. Take a little time for you and treat yourself to a home spa day – I am positive that you will fall in love with your new glow!

There are so many different products or ways to make your stems silky smooth – I’ll share my favorites with you – but you can follow along with your favorite products and whatever works best for you.

All of my recommendations are going to give you the most bang for your buck, and are not very expensive.

If budget is an issue, you can also substitute most of these products with items from your kitchen that also work brilliantly.

Steps to Get Beautiful Legs Overnight

  1. Pre-Exfoliate: Moisten up
  2. Exfoliate: Scrub off the dead stuff
  3. Shave: Because a hairy leg don’t shine
  4. Moisturize: Don’t even think about fake tanning without moisture first!
  5. (*Optional, if needed) Self-Tan: For that bronze-y glow
  6. Body Oil: Gives a perfect sheen that isn’t greasy

1. Pre-Exfoliate

This is an important part of your legs’ silky smoothness. You have to condition your legs with something that will help soften the skin and help the exfoliator glide around.

I love to use a home-made mixture of bag-balm and lotion for this step.

For those of you who haven’t used bag-balm before, let me just say – it is the balm (get it?). But seriously – you can use it for practically every body part, including your lips as a lip moisturizer, on your eyebrows and lashes as a clear mascara, dab a bit on your cheek for a bit of a highlighter, use on any dead skin anywhere – alleviate pain from bee stings or bites… this stuff is a little miracle in a weird tin that smells like barnyard animals because of the lanolin they use in it.

But, it works – WONDERS.

So, before I do anything harsh to my legs, I warm some of this stuff up in a little bowl, mix it with lotion, and then apply it generously to my legs.

If you don’t have bag-balm, I’d recommend using a thick lotion or olive oil to prep your legs before exfoliation.

2. Exfoliate

The best exfoliator that I love for a body scrub is apricot scrub by St. Ives.

I’ve been using this since high school as a body scrub and even though I have tried countless others, this one is the one I always come back to.

It is inexpensive and works great – also smells really good and uses real apricot kernels. Note that this should not really be used on your face or neck, as the kernels can actually scratch and do damage to your more sensitive skin. But, on legs (or your butt), it’s perfect!

  • Alternate Version: If you can’t afford it or wish to make your own home-made scrub instead, you can use plain ol’ sugar and olive oil. Just fill a tiny bowl or ramekin with sugar and pour as much olive oil as you need to give it a little bit of a paste consistency. You won’t need more than a few tablespoons or so total.
  • To Lighten Skin: If you need to get old tanner off or want to lighten your skin color, add a bit of lemon to the sugar and olive oil.
  • To Help with Cellulite: If you have cellulite or loose skin, you can also add a tablespoon of used coffee grounds to the mixture (just be careful about not rinsing these down your drain, you might use newspaper on the floor and flake it off before you shower). Coffee is a natural stimulant proven to help reduce cellulite.
  • For Feet Callouses: I use a Mr. Pumice on my callouses and rough spots on my feet. This might be too much for some, but I need it to get the really thick stuff off. If it hurts when you use it, you don’t need it in that area – when I use it on my heels and sides of my toes I go until I can feel it and then stop.

I also highly recommend either a loofah, or exfoliating gloves. These will assist in taking off the dead skin along with your exfoliant.

tan legs


This is the part that feels really good – in the shower or wherever you don’t mind making a mess, rub your exfoliant into your pre-moistened skin. Get into the massage and make sure you focus on extra-dry skin like the stuff on your feet and knees – but don’t go so crazy that you get scars or start to bleed, just get the top layer of skin, don’t sandblast your epidermis off.

It helps to have a pedicure or at least a home pedicure before you do this – it adds to the overall look of your newly shined up legs when your feet and toes look très cute!

Once you are done, rinse your legs off with water only. If you did step one correctly you will still have a little bit of an oil barrier left on the legs which will help the next step work even better.

3. Shave

Now for the hair removal.

You may choose to do a different type, but I prefer shaving myself. One of the reasons is because the razor actually cuts off the dead skin along with the hair.

Make sure you use the razor correctly. You do not have to push hard with the razor – don’t do that unless you love the sight of blood.

Razors are designed to glide over your skin and do their job so you don’t have use any amount of pressure.

You will, however, want to use a shave cream. This will really help the slip of the razor and also loosen up the hair so that you have less chance of ingrown hairs.

My favorite one which is natural and cheap is EOS – I love all of their scents and you can find this in every drug store or supermarket. It’s not a foam so you might have to get used to shaving with a lotion if you’re not used to that.

Use a good razor of your preference – I tend to like the razors made for men better than the women’s razors, but I do like lots of blades – like triple or five work great. Schick’s Extreme3 is one of my favorites.

Make sure you replace your blade, or razor if disposable, after 4 or 5 uses. If the razor is dull it won’t do a good job and you’re more likely to start pushing it to work better, in which case you will end up bleeding.

Use the shave cream and shave either in the shower or out of it, depending on your preference.

When you are done rinse the shave cream off and dry your legs with a big soft fluffy towel.

4. Moisturize

Use a light moisturizer that absorbs well but won’t leave your legs super greasy. You want to get the elasticity into your skin but just enough so that your tanner soaks in well. If you use too much lotion, it will be a barrier to the tanner and it won’t allow the color to penetrate.

I recommend a light lotion like CeraVe, which gives a good amount of moisture but not overwhelmingly so.

Apply a very light layer on the whole leg, focusing on applying more to the rough spots like the knees and ankles.

Don’t forget the feet! This is one of the areas that fake tanner will cling to in weird ways, so make sure  you hydrate your tootsies and get into all the cracks between your toes with the lotion.

“It puts the lotion on its feet or it gets ugly tan splotches.” – me

5. To Tan, or Not to Tan

A tanned leg will make your leg a whole lot better looking – and is great at hiding flaws – from discoloration to cellulite, scars or varicose veins.

Being painfully white all my life, I believe tans are much more appealing than no tan, but of course, we know how bad tanning beds or natural tanning can be for our skin.

Enter FAKE – excuse me, faux tan cream.

When I was in Jr.High they came out with fake tanner – at that time it was SO EXPENSIVE, and it made you look orange like a carrot – and it stunk to high heaven… it was HORRIBLE.

A friend of mine whose family was rich showed me her leg that she had used the pricey fake tanner on and I remember thinking, “eww!” It looked gross. It took me a while to even wrap my head around trying it in more recent times because of my memory from that time.

It actually looked like she had caked some bad makeup on her leg.

Just say “no” to carrot skin. No one should have to endure looking at that.

carrot skin

If you do happen to find yourself in a situation (like this photo) where you need your faux tan removed or have applied too much – use lemon juice and a loofah to scrub off – repeat if needed.

Nowadays though, you shouldn’t run into the same orange-y color issues with most of the products out there.

Fake tanners have come a long, long way. The selection and color range available is varied- ranging from light to dark, the price has come down so that it is relatively inexpensive, and you can find tanners that actually don’t stink, but a lot of them still do. Check the scent if you can, to see if it’s something you can stand for a few hours.

“You’re going to be happy,” – said Life, “but first… you’ll need a tan.”

Getting self tanners to actually look good and natural has a lot to do with the application. You really can’t just squirt a glob of it out on your leg and expect good results.

At least that doesn’t work well for ME.

There is a defined process that I have to be pretty strict about following, otherwise I get streaks, globs, and areas like on my feet and knees where it looks like an obvious FAIL of dark patches.

A big part of the success of the tanner is the commitment to making my leg’s skin fresh and dewy, which means sloughing off that old dead stuff… and then keeping it moist and supple enough to have a bit of slip so that the tanner glides around evenly and doesn’t grab on to the first spot of dryness it can find.

So, that’s why we have this whole routine we have to go through and not just the tanner by itself.

It takes a bit of work to achieve, but the results are fantastic and well worth it!

I will recommend before you start, invest in a tanning mitt. These are inexpensive – and will save you so much headache in terms of getting tan cream all within your finger cracks and then having weird brown lines and spots all over your hands.

I have a few tanning mitts, some for my body and some that are small for my face. I use them all. Just wash them with soap and water after you are done applying your tanning cream. Hang them on the sink handles or wherever so that they dry out before putting them away – otherwise they can get moldy.

My absolute favorite tanning cream is this one (which comes with a mitt in this version). It is the best one I have used to date, and one that doesn’t make me sick from the smell. This one smells good going on, and will fade to a non-pleasant stink, but it’s not overwhelming.

It creates a dark, natural tan. I actually prefer tanning cream to mousse, although there is debate over this and a lot of people prefer the mousse. If you do like mousse, this is a good one to try as long as you use it quickly. I have 3 bottles of this stuff, but it turns green after a while which is why I don’t love or recommend this unless you are going to use the whole thing right away.

To apply self-tanner, start by running some water on your tanning mitt, then squeezing out the excess water. I do this to make it apply the tanner more evenly. I find that If I use a dry mitt, it just plops the tanning cream down and is hard for it to spread.

By getting the mitt wet first, you have a better chance of even application.

Now, apply a generous amount of tanner to your mitt, and rub it in, starting at the lower part of the leg and working up in circles. I do my feet last to make sure I go in between the toes and all around the edges of the foot so there are no lines.

If you picked a good tanner, you should be able to see if you have any streaks, work these out with the mitt or else they will develop that way and you’ll have a streaky tan.

The color will develop over the next few hours. Do not rinse off, and do not wear anything white while you are allowing the tanner to dry.

If you wish, rinse off the tanning cream after 4 hours. If I tan before bed, I will leave it on overnight and wash it in the morning.

I always have to do more than one application, but this depends on the level of tan you want and how fair your skin is to begin with. In the photo below, you can see the first application and how it’s barely noticeable on my skin – then how much more drastic the second application is.

legs darker

6. Body Oil

Okay, home stretch time – you’re almost done.

To really give your legs a noticeable glow, apply some body oil to them after your shower or before going out.

The key here is to use a light oil. The heavier ones will be too greasy and will stick to your clothes – or, sometimes the occasional insect will land on your leg and get stuck – YUK!

Steer clear from the temptation to use olive oil or any other food oils.

I recommend this Neutrogena Light Oil which is fabulous, but you can also use Bio-Oil or any other oil you prefer. Proclaim is a very inexpensive but great oil available at Sally’s.

In a pinch, you can apply a lotion instead, but the oil will really highlight the tan and give you that beautiful sheen.

Video Tutorial

How to Get Beautiful Legs Overnight

How to Get Beautiful Legs Overnight

** How to Treat Legs in Really Bad Shape **

If you struggle with really bad legs from bites, scars, age, bruises, cellulite, varicose veins, dark spots, or any other blemishes, you might consider trying out the Sally Hansen leg airbrush products.

 While I don’t use it myself, I have friends who swear by this stuff.

It’s important to understand what it is and what it isn’t.

It isn’t a tanner, although it will add color – it is basically make-up for your legs. The best way it is described is the look of panty hose without wearing them.

The way to apply it is to spray this on (or rub it on if you’re using their cream) and it will add a layer of sheer make-up to your legs that hides imperfections.

It is water-resistant so it will last for a few days if you don’t scrub your legs aggressively in the shower.

You have to let it sit on your legs for a while (20 minutes or so) before putting on clothes or it can rub off on them – and does come off a bit on your clothes after time if you’re wearing pants.

Unlike the steps for applying a fake tan cream, you do NOT want to use a moisturizer before applying this stuff, as it will cause the makeup to not adhere properly to your legs and can cause it to come off on clothing more easily.

You might spray this stuff outside as it can get all over your floors and is a bit sticky.

If you haven’t been able to wear shorts in years because you are embarrassed by your legs, try this spray – you will be amazed at what it can do.

Now – Go Out and Show Off!

That’s it – at this point you should have gorgeous legs to show off wherever you are going and in whatever you are wearing.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful!

What are your thoughts?

Leave a reply

The Hairy Potato
Compare items
  • Email Marketing (0)