How I Got a Dark Tan in Just One Day?

Getting a dark, beautiful tan is something I’ve always dreamed of. As someone with naturally pale skin, I would look longingly at friends with gorgeous golden complexions. I wanted to feel that sun-kissed glow too!

When a beach vacation came up, I decided this would be my chance to finally get the tan I’d always wanted. But with only 5 days to get ready, I needed to figure out how to go from pasty to bronzed in a short time. After lots of research, I found a few methods that allowed me to get a fabulous dark tan in just one day!

My Skin Type and Tanning History

My Skin Type and Tanning History

To start, let me tell you a bit about my skin so you understand where I began on this tanning journey. I have very fair skin that burns easily in the sun. I also have freckles and some moles, so I need to be careful about sun exposure.

In the past, I’ve tried lying out in the sun and ended up a lobster red, painful mess. Needless to say, this did not leave me with any tan at all. I’ve also tried tanning beds but found they dried out my skin.

My research showed that there are safer, more effective ways to tan my skin type. With the right prep and products, I could get a beautiful bronze glow in just a single day!

Preparing My Skin for a Dark Tan in One Day

The key to getting a great tan quickly is preparing your skin beforehand. This gets it ready to darken faster and more evenly in the sun or a tanning bed.

Here are the steps I took in the week leading up to my tanning day:


I exfoliated my entire body every day in the shower with a loofah. This sloughs off dead skin cells and allows your skin to absorb the UV rays more effectively. I focused on elbows, knees, ankles and other dry spots.


I applied deeply hydrating, non-comedogenic lotion all over my body twice a day. This included areas that might get missed like feet, hands and decolletage. I used lotions with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to nourish my skin.


I used a gradual self-tanner lotion starting 4 days before my tanning day. These contain DHA that react with amino acids on the outer layer of skin to darken it. I built up light color so I didn’t have to start from scratch.

Exfoliating Again

The day before tanning, I exfoliated again to remove any self-tanner and prep my skin. Avoid oils after this which can block UV rays.

How I Got a Dark Tan in One Day

How I Got a Dark Tan in One Day

Once my skin was prepped and ready to go, it was time for the main event – tanning! I used a combination of self-tanning products and UV exposure to get a gorgeous dark look in a single day.

Here is what my tanning day looked like:

Self-Tanning Mousse

In the morning, I applied a dark self-tanning mousse all over my body, paying extra attention to dry areas. Self-tanners react with amino acids in the skin to give a tan look. I chose a mousse formula which goes on more easily.

Tanning Accelerator

Next, I used a tanning accelerator lotion which promotes melanin production in the skin when exposed to UV rays. This amplifies the effects of the sun/tanning bed. I applied it everywhere about 30 minutes before tanning.

Tanning Bed Session

I went to my local tanning salon in the late morning for a 20 minute session in a tanning bed. My skin was primed to absorb the UV rays and tan more quickly. I also wore protective eye goggles.

Reapply Self-Tanner

After showering, I applied another layer of the dark self-tanning mousse in the evening. Going over it again helped deepen my tan color even more. The shower removed any residue from the first application.

Moisturize Skin

Before bed, I moisturized with an aloe-based lotion to soothe my skin and keep it hydrated overnight. Avoid thick creams that could block continued tanning.

Results: My Darkest Tan After 1 Day!

When I woke up the morning after my tanning day, I was thrilled by the results! My skin had a rich, bronze glow – the darkest tan I had ever achieved.

The color looked natural, not orange or streaky. By preparing my skin ahead of time, the tanning products and UV rays were able to work effectively. I felt sexy and confident with my new tan.

It lasted nearly two weeks before starting to fade, much longer than a regular sunburn tan. My skin also felt soft and healthy thanks to the moisturizing prep work.

Tips for Maintaining Your One-Day Tan

Once you’ve achieved a fabulous dark tan, you’ll want it to last as long as possible. Here are my tips for taking good care of your skin and maintaining that bronzed glow:

  • Moisturize daily – Keep skin hydrated with a light, non-comedogenic lotion to extend your tan.
  • Exfoliate lightly – Gently scrub 2-3 times a week to remove dead skin cells but not your tan.
  • Use sunscreen – Protect your skin from additional UV exposure which can cause fading.
  • Avoid chlorine – Swimming in pools washes off your tan, so shower immediately after.
  • Touch up with self-tanner – Reapply mousse or lotion as needed to refresh color on hands/feet.

The Confidence My New Tan Gave Me

Achieving such gorgeous, dark tan skin in just one day gave me a huge confidence boost. I felt glamorous, sexy and beach-ready.

I loved getting compliments on my bronze skin while on vacation. More importantly, I proved to myself that I can get an amazing tan even with my fair skin.

It was so gratifying to find the right products and techniques that worked with my skin type. I plan to use this routine again next time I have an upcoming beach trip or special occasion.

If you have pale skin and always wished you could get a beautiful tan, don’t lose hope! With the right prep and methods, you too can go from pasty to bronzed beauty in just one day. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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