“Keep that baby out of the sun!” It’s an all too common sentiment spoken to black mothers by well-meaning relatives. The thought is that brown-skinned babies should stay out of the sun so they retain the delicate pink, beige or caramel skin they were born with. But more African American women are eschewing that ‘conventional wisdom’ and embracing deeper, darker skin tones. And this is fascinating, considering that skin bleaching is a persistent problem and a huge industry in many black communities outside of America.

Essence Magazine recently posted a tutorial titled 3 Steps to Countour Tanning Like a Pro for black women in pursuit of a “cinnamon-y glow”. The tagline reads:

Looking to keep your summer glow through the fall? Everyone can’t extend their vacation and hop on a flight to St. Barts, but you can get that just-left-the-beach glow if you learn to master at-home spray tanning.


In a recent video YouTube guru Naptural85 also mentioned her use of self-tanner to preserve her beach glow and make her skin “more highlighted”. Hear her talk about it starting at 3:58.

This Spring we posted about black hair and beauty vlogger LaToya Chenelle who spoke about her tanning habit and got many incredulous and some ignorant responses.


It could be argued that black women who tan are not so much going for darker skin as they are for a more bronzed/golden glow or increased depth of tone. But the reality is that the darkening of the skin is a part of that process.

Ladies what are your thoughts?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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28 Comments on "Are More African American Women Self-Tanning?"

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I self tan every summer and have been doing it for years…those that don’t agree with it…. too bad… thanks for the list Lindsay Chan

Lindsey Chan

Ilove self tanners they are much safer than spending hours under th esun. I put together this list with reviews on top 10 indoorr self tanners: http://www.taninsider.com/top-10-indoor-tanning-lotion-products-reviewed/

LaToya Chenelle

I still love spray tanning for competitions, shoots or special
Occasions. As a black women we have beautiful skin that can sometimes be 5 shades on one person. Spray tanning just helps to have an overall even complexion. When I spray tan I don’t even have to wear much makeup.

Karen Barnett

You can find some best self tanners on http://skinbeautifulcare.com/. We have unbiased review you can trust!


Which brand do you use? I’ve tried one and had an issue with it “transferring” to my clothes, car seat, etc.


I use a few different kinds but I mainly stick with Victoria’s Secret Luminous Body Bronzer. It gives an even color and also has a golden tint so it gives a nice shimmer and doesn’t transfer too much. If you really want to prevent transferring, I’d just use regular lotion, the fast absorbing cheaper kind, (Suave has a good formula for this) and add some foundation to it.


Thanks for the tip!


Thank you so much. I’m brown skin and would love to darken my skin( tan). Definitely going to check it out.


For all the black women looking to use self tanner/spray tan there is a company that makes solution that is best for olive to dark skin types it’s called Mystic tan it’s a full body spray tan most tanning salons have one! I work at Palm Beach Tan and we have one

Tiffany Williams
I have a lot of white friends and when we would go to the beach or go swimming I noticed that not one has a single scat or stretch mark on them and they told me that they have plenty of scars and stretch marks but when they fake tan it hides them. I tried to fake tan and I must say I LOVE it. Every scar, stretch mark, or dark spot is gone instantly. When people think tan, they think getting dark but for me and my other black friends I introduced it to, it’s like taking your makeup… Read more »

I use self tanner mainly on my legs to help minimize the appearance of chicken skin/strawberry legs/dark pores etc. It helps tremendously and helps give a sheen, not so much of a glow, to my legs that always looks great it shorts, skirts and dresses.


Looks like black people in black face…
Jeez, I wear my shade without choices and options and while I don’t see myself as dark I’m constantly referred to as chocolate and dark by my husband. Nice to know some black folks have the option to be whichever shade is convenient and cute at the moment.

Brianna Nicolas

Black women don’t tan….Tan is a light shade of brown, a darker beige if you will. We can get darker yes, but not tan. Stop with the Eurocentric bull. Just because others are doing something doesn’t mean were all should. And vice versa.


You said dat! Agree!

Dr. Doug

The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends babies stay out the sun for the first 6 months.

Those old black mothers were on to something.


Please, in other countries that is not a factor. The un will be the friend of children under 6 months and they will be fine just like American babies would be.


Actually in many African countries there’s a tradition where mother nurse their babies indoors for several months. The baby can only be seen by relatives. And the baby doesn’t go anywhere, niether does the mother. And then there’s a big “coming out party” and the baby literraly gets to go outside.
It goes by names such as Botsetsi or Buzwele in some countries.

Ms. Vee

Well a spray on tan beats bleach. I don’t see anything wrong with it. However as long as there is no self hatred/obsession involved then its whatever. It would be unhealthy to have lighter skin and obsess over trying to get darker just as it is the other way around.

Emily Andrews

If you’re looking for some self tanners to try out, check out my blog at http://www.SelfTanning.com. I’ve tried and reviewed literally hundreds of self tanning lotions, creams and sprays πŸ™‚

Hair Anomaly

I am thankful that, as the only dark skinned person in my immediate family, I had a light-skinned mother who never ceased to tell me how beautiful dark skin was.

I don’t tan for a glow. A glow isn’t enough for me. I tan to look like 85% dark chocolate. I think it’s great to see women of color embracing their skin to the point where they want to accentuate it. Whether it’s sun or self-tanner…I say whatever works.

Hey BGLH. I just so happen to be a black girl and I use self tanner! I started using it because I am practically 3 shades of brown It was annoying to have a dark face, lighter chest and my legs didn’t know how to catch up!. I craved an even skin tone, especially in the summer when all my skin is exposed in their glory! Self tanning seemed like a safer route than baking in the sun’s uv rays. So now my chest and legs match closer to my face! I got that Viola Glow! I like it! I’m… Read more »

same, this summer i had a very light chest and face.. my arms were the darkest part of my body and my legs were slightly lighter but they still tanned.. I actually tried putting a tanning oil when i went to the beach but I nearly got sunburnt ? should’ve thought of that. it’s more reliable, and it’s safer!


What kind would you recommend? Everything in the stores seems to be for fair skin.


Interesting really! because I heard that in Senegal there is this trend for some ladies to taint their bodies with henna. They apply henna all over their body, leave it on for some time and rinse. I saw a picture of a lady who had done that and I was amazed. She looked like a bronze statue.


I tried to search and i can’t see πŸ™ i’d love to see that!!


I saw it on facebook. It’s a new trend so I’m not sure you’ll find it on the internet. And Senegal like many other countries is plagued by the plague called skin bleaching, so I bet you This trend won’t pick up that fast.

Alexious Johnson
I’ve been tanning for years!!! Outside in the natural sunlight, of course!!! I initial started looking at self tanners, but never saw one dark enough (I am a solid brown shade) so I just sunbathing, especially wjen y husband and I went on vacation!!! But I hadn’t done that in the last few years, until this past summer. I began sunbathing on my rooftop (Lupita’s to blame) and jogging along the beach around high noon. As soon as I would get home I went straight to the mirror to check my “tan” lines… After hearing about the lady mentioned in… Read more »

I love the look of my sun kissed skin! I rocked a spray tan for a formal even I had this weekend with NO shame!