How to Apply Self-Tanner Without a Mitt

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

New Self-Tanning solution? Check. Ready to apply? Check. Tanning mitt? Ch- wait, where did it go, what happened to it…?

Is there another option?

Lucky for you, the answer is yes.

There are quite a few alternate options for the traditional way, and in this article, we’ll go over how to apply self-tanner without a mitt.

You may be surprised at the number of different ways you can apply fake tanners, including rubber gloves, socks, or even just your hands.

While alternate options can’t necessarily guarantee as even or as perfect of a spread as a high-quality tanning mitt, they can still do a pretty great job if push comes to shove. 

There’s even a chance that one of these will become your new favorite way of applying sunless tanning solution!

Many people have discovered that while the traditional mitt is great, there are other options that they find to be even better!

Below, we’ll dive deeper into the different options so you can better choose which will work best for you. 

How to Apply Self-Tanner Without a Mitt

1. Rubber Gloves

wahoo PVC Dishwashing Cleaning Gloves, Skin-Friendly, Reusable Kitchen Gloves with Cotton Flocked Liner, Non-Slip, Large
  • Skin-friendly: wahoo dishwahing gloves...
  • Soft and Comfortable: Adopts advanced...
  • Excellent Grip: wahoo rubber gloves fit...
  • Durable and Multipurpose: 26.6 Mils...
  • Safe and Fun: Fashionable design and...

Believe it or not, rubber gloves are a tried and true favorite for many people. Some even prefer them to a normal tanning mitt. Since rubber gloves have separate finger holes, they make it easier to apply the tanner to places that require more detail,  achieving a more even tan overall. 

Not only that, but they also don’t absorb any of the self tanner, meaning a smooth spread and less waste.

You can rinse and reuse them as well, making them a reliable option since you can always keep them on hand.

As a bonus, using rubber gloves will ensure that no product gets onto the palms of your hands, so you won’t have to worry all the issues with uneven tanner on hands and feet

2. Socks

Amazon Essentials Women's Performance Cotton Cushioned Athletic Crew Socks, Pack of 6, Black, 8-12
  • Stock up on these cushion athletic...
  • Zone Cushioning on the ball and heel of...
  • Zone Mesh designed for ventilation and...
  • Arch Compression for support and...
  • Reinforced heel and toe for long lasting...

Using a sock to apply self-tanner will have a similar feel to using an actual tanning mitt.  With your fingers in the same fabric compartment, you would use the same technique to spread the tanner out over your skin.

So if a tanning glove is what you’re used to,  this will feel familiar. It’s a good idea to turn the sock inside out, but after that, you’re good to go. 

A downside is that some product will most likely soak through and get onto your hands, so that’s a good thing to keep in mind if this is something you especially hate about the tanning process. If you have any barrier cream, apply it to your hands.

You can also wash and reuse the sock as a self-tanning mitt again. Just remember that once it’s been used as a tanning mitt, it’s forever retired from its job as a sock. The good news is that when you’re done using this sock, you can switch to its matching sock later on.

3. Using Your Hands

While it may sound a little hectic, applying self-tanner with your bare hands is something many people start out doing. It’s a fairly great option and allows for a more detailed application—just be prepared to have some odd-looking streaks on your hands, especially if you’re not using a barrier cream

This could potentially be avoided by washing your hands and using a coarse tanning exfoliator right away, you’ll just have to be sure to do this right away so the tanner doesn’t have much time to sit on your hands. 

4. Plastic Wrap

Going this route may sound weird, but using plastic wrap to apply self-tanner is a  surprisingly effective option. It’s cheap and accessible, as most people already have some plastic wrap in their house. 

Wrap it around your hand. Be sure to not leave any parts exposed — you’ll rub the self tanner over your skin the same way as you would with a regular tanning mitt. Its smooth surface will give you a very even application, similar to the rubber glove. 

Since plastic wrap isn’t porous, none of the self tanner should make it to your skin, which is of course a huge bonus. Plus, it allows for easy cleanup, as you can just discard the plastic wrap once finished. 

5. Self Tanning Wipes

These are gaining popularity—and for good reason! These convenient tanning wipes come already prepared to use, so you don’t have to worry about having any other equipment. 

This makes them especially perfect for travel! You can just toss them right into your bag and know that they include everything you need to acquire that perfect summer glow, even in winter.

These wipes are somewhat less cost-effective in the long run, so that’s something to keep in mind, but if you’re willing to spend a little extra for convenience, tanning wipes are the right option for you!

6. A Face Brush

When applying fake tan to your face, it’s a good idea to use a large “Kabuki style” face brush .

This sort of brush will give you smooth, even coverage.

Bronze Tan Self Tanning Brush for Face and Kabuki Self Tanner Brush for Sunless Tanner - Self Tan Applicator for Face - Self Tanning Face Brush - Substitute for Face Tanning Mitt - Also Great for Spray Tan Blending Brush
  • ✔️TAN YOUR FACE EASILY: Using an...
  • ✔️MONEY BACK GUARENTEE: Don’t love...

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Put Self Tanner On Without Shaving? 

You can, although it’s best to shave beforehand if possible. Shaving helps exfoliate the skin, which leaves it supple and ready for the self tanner. Ideally, you’d shave the day before to give any small cuts you get time to heal.

Should You Wash Your Self Tan Mitt?

Yes, although be sure to hand wash it instead of putting it in the washing machine. You can add a touch of soap to remove stains if you’d like, although it’s best to stay away from harsh detergents. 

Should I Self Tan My Face? 

If you want to, yes, this is a very common thing to do. Make sure that you apply your self-tanner in the right places to ensure that it doesn’t end up looking fake. You’ll want to limit it to around your neck and jawline.


There is more than just one way to apply self-tanner, making it even more convenient to achieve a warm summery glow at home.

Learning how to apply self-tanner without a mitt is an excellent idea if you self tan often—you never know when you’ll be without your favorite mitt. It’s probably not a great choice for a beginner self tanner, though.

Note that if you want to apply tanner to your back, see our guide here.

The alternate ways of applying tanner are not only a passable option but are often preferred by many.

Who knows, one of these backup options could end up becoming your new go-to!

Written by Kayla Young

How Long Can Hair Dye Last After It’s Mixed?

Isavera Fat Freezing System Reviews