Plastic Free, Zero Waste Self Tanner


Normally I'm several shades lighter than my white tank top. A few swirls of homemade henna self tanner later imparts streak-free, smudge-proof, summery color. Unlike conventional self tanners, it doesn't smell like cat pee, either! I'm all for embracing your natural skin tone, but it's fun to experiment sometimes. This was my shade six months a year before moving to Paris, where I developed Victorian pallor.

This recipe looks muddy and dirty at first, leaving a nice, subtle glow after showering. For the most part, the formula doesn't transfer onto white sheets or light clothing. It came off on white towels after a shower, and it smudged my white t-shirt once. In both instances, the color washed out beautifully and didn't stain. You can shave, take baths, and swim and your tan won't budge. After five days, it starts to look patchy, but fades nicely until then. Unlike typical self tanners, this won't stain your bathtub or sink, wiping away easily with soap or vinegar.



Homemade Zero Waste Self Tanner

50 grams henna (not black henna)
100 grams oil (you can use coconut, almond, or even mango / shea / cocoa butter)
20 grams loose leaf black tea steeped in 100 mL hot water

Let tea cool before making a smooth paste with henna and oil (it's green and looks disgusting). Apply in long, circular motions. Contour to make fake abs and stuff. Wait fifteen minutes before getting dressed. Makes one light full-body application; double or triple as desired. You can make a big batch and store it in a dark glass pump bottle in the fridge for one month. Allow at least eight hours to set before showering. Repeat every night to gradually build your tan, rinsing between applications. 

To remove the self tanner, I scrubbed with a hemp washcloth. I like that this doesn't settle in pores or leave dark dots where I shaved; it is extremely messy and not worth using regularly, but nowhere near as complicated as storebought self tanners. After several applications, the color is comparable to Vita Liberata- I've gotten the spray tans and used the 2-3 week lotion in the past (packaged in #7 plastic). I've also tried Olay, L'oreal, and Neutrogena, and they were more orange than this. Some people recommend taking a bath with a few teaspoons of henna instead, though I heard this can result in an Oompa-Loompa look. Not in the mood to DIY? Try plastic free, all-natural self tanner from Etsy.

Paris to Go

16 comments:

  1. Wow, this is innovative ! I never thought it could be done.

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    1. I guess people have been doing this in the Middle East for centuries (that's where I heard the bathtub trick), but I never thought it could be done either! I think depending on your undertones or how dark skin is naturally, some people won't even need to mix it with tea or anything. I tried some of the other DIY self tan recipes with just tea and carrots and stuff and they were disasters. This one surprisingly lasted and looked decent.

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  2. "Contour to make fake abs and stuff." hahahahahaha! XD

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    1. I've been using the Victoria's Secret tricks for self tanning :)

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  3. This is really cool! I would never have known that henna could be used as a self-tanner (a category of product I've never really needed because I get tan super-easily).

    My mom occasionally uses a henna paste to dye her hair, and really does look very icky when its mixed.

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    1. Thanks Xin! I still haven't tried henna on my hair. I couldn't take a decent picture of the henna paste, it looked so bad.

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  4. This is genius! Thanks for sharing!
    My skin reacts to DHA, and black tea was hassle and didn't even work. I'm definitely trying this for the summer!

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    1. I've read a lot of nasty things about DHA, I'm not sure how scientific they are, but it certainly seems to react badly with peoples' skin. I hope you like this henna version :)

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  5. You always look so chic no matter what you are wearing!

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    1. What! Never in my life have I heard that, you are so sweet Tracy! Thank you :) You made me smile on this rainy day

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  6. Hey Ariana, how do you get bad stains out of white clothes? I rit-dyed a pair of pants a long while ago and they stained ALL my white shirts blue. I've tried rubbing in soap as a stain remover, but that didn't really get it out. Do you have any tips?

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    1. Hi Anika! My husband accidentally washed some indigo pants with all of our whites and they all turned blue and were set with heat. I didn't get home until two weeks later and I just washed them with baking soda and vinegar and set them in the sun and now they're white again. Boiling them in lemon juice can help too. Could you try scrubbing them with baking soda? Baking soda and vinegar also removed set-in blood stains from when I cut my arm, so I think it could work with dye too.

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    2. Holy moly batman!!! I even tried heavy-duty laundry bleach first (I have it from before my low-waste days) and it didn't do anything. Baking soda and vinegar save the day once again; my shirts are white! Viva la baking soda! Thank you so much, your blog is seriously the best!

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    3. That is awesome! Glad it worked for you. And thanks!

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  7. I made a henna self tan for my Cosmo natural beauty column last summer - everyone thought I was mad but it was AMAZING! So cool to hear your regular application version too. A friend recommended your blog - I've been shampoo free for almost five years now, and aim for zero waste. The biggest difference is that we live in a yurt in NZ rather than one of the biggest cities in the world! Totally inspired and will be sharing everywhere! xx

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    1. I just started reading your blog- your life is amazing! I loved the recycled materials you decorated with too, the suitcase especially :) Also I just read your Cosmo natural beauty column and will try your 3 litres of water a day trick. Your skin looked incredible!

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