Tampa Bay Tan has released a new Self Tanning product – the Smittens Exfoliation and Application mitts.  And yes, you are correct –  there are a zillion of these things on the market

BUT this is not like your average mitts.


I have used them all, the good, the bad and the ugly.

And Tampa Bay Tan, being what it is, was not willing to release yet another “So-So” mitt on the already flooded market.

Their philosophy is Go Big or Go Home. We want a great mitt – not another repeat of the current lineup on the market. And  I agree, no point in repeating what everyone already has, if you can’t make it better, save your energy.

So the owner of TBT came to me directly, and said “if you could have the perfect mitt, what would it be….” And so the journey began. They have been working on, and tweaking these things for a few years now, to create something stellar.

So who were the experts that were consulted? Are they real people?

I based my personal recommendations, (presented in many long winded phone calls and emails), and explained what I loved and hated about products on the current market.

I pulled from my 23 years in the Industry, my years of experience working directly with product users (both Salon and home users), self-tanning company’s,  use of tanning products and tools, and years of experience as both a Skin Care and Self tanner consultant.

I also drew on my message board experience from working directly with the message board team, and thousands of users at the Self Tanning message board (now sadly gone and missed).

I am a very experienced home user of self tanning products, both machine and hand applied – as I have been applying products to myself at home for 20 plus years.

So bringing all that to the table, I provided a list of my “Gold Standard” expectations.

Tampa Bay Tan’s staff purchased a number of other popular mitts and tools on the market. They then used these items to help them grasp the pros and cons of current commercial mitt products.

Tampa Bay Tan also spoke with others in the Industry, both Home Users, and Salon owners, and their product evaluation team to pull in more view points. Products were distributed to users in the trenches for field tests in the real world, with their tanning products of choice.

The owner of Tampa Bay Tan, does not believe in doing anything “half way” though, so he then, of course, tweaked things even more, and added in some nifty extras to provide True Spa Quality mitts, unlike anything currently on the market.

The result is indeed a different animal.

Though at first glance, this looks just like any of 100 other mitts, once you start working with these puppies, you see where they excel.  I received pre-production versions of both mitts, as we worked through this process of making the best dang mitt out there, and I now, happily, have the final versions in my hands. This is the same version available for purchase on the TBT site now, as part of their Smiitens Mitts Line. I have been using these for a few months now.

The Exfoliation Mitt Set:

First let’s start with the Exfoliation mitt. This is a great place to start for any user. Ether the customer who applies products at home, or the client coming in for regular spray tan visits.

As most Professional Techs would tell you, Its often very difficult to help clients to understand the importance of good, regular, and proper exfoliation. A good pretan exfoliation will both prepare skin for their first tan, and extent its wear. Skin preparation is very important.

Poor exfoliation, can ruin the best applied tan, no matter what spray tan line you use.

A typical call from a client or the Tech, about the client, when we troubleshot a tanning issue on the phone goes like this:

“…..Exfoliation?….…ahh I use XYZ scrub, ….or my “homemade” scrub, …..or “insert company of choice” scrub.

……or I used a washcloth,…. a loofah,….. a body poof, …..

……I used this or that, with Bar soap, …no bar soap…this “special bar soap”…., gel soap, …cleansing oil… with lotion…without lotion etc etc……..

……..Or I don’t remember,….. or I did not do anything at all, should I? … “

As you can see for a Professional Spray Technician it is impossible to really know WHAT your client used, and if they are really preparing their skin in the best manner to provide an even exfoliation head to toe, without adding other “skin coating products” that can all effect the tan result.

For a client, it can be very very confusing, and create unneeded frustration.

Prep Tan prep sprays like the TBT CYA are a great help, but they will not replace regular exfoliation, and they do have limits on what they can remove from the skin surface.  For clients that tend to use Bar Soaps, or heavy moisturizers, body butters, creams, or skin oils, or in shower oils and lotions, often nothing can remove those coatings except a manual mechanical exfoliation device.

The Smittens exfoliation mitt set makes it easy for your client to get it right every time.

Recommended Best Use Tips – Exfoliation Mitt:

I recommend using the mitt with a mild “translucent/transparent” shower gel of choice, at the end of the shower after all hair cleansing, shaving etc is finished. Using this as a LAST step will remove all product residue from the skin surface from scrubs, soaps, conditioners, oils etc.

Do this 1-24 hours before your spray tan session, without applying other products on the skin.  (other than an optional barrier cream or optional light premoisterizing product as needed for dry skin areas, making sure skin is sweat free, and antiperspirant and cosmetic free before spraying)

I recommend a transparent gel cleanser, as opposed to a milky looking opaque gel cleanser or a bar soap (of any type) – ether of these options can coat skin with products that can hamper self-tanner development and penetration.

This is step one to help get that great tan consistently, week to week.

For the regular weekly Tanner:

Use the green exfoliation mitt (both face and body versions included in a set) once a week or more, to both maintain the sunless tan, and prepare for the next tan sessions.

A light exfoliation done mid-week, and topping off color with ether a Drugstore self-tanning product, or TBT’s Mousse, Aerosol, or Tan Therepe Lotion will help keep the color fresh between salon visits. (using the mitt more lightly on the skin to just lightly remove “buff-off” any loose skin cells, do not scrub hard enough to remove majority of the tan)  This may or may not been needed, depending on how your tan fades, tan depth, skin type, environment etc. So this is optional. (I personally do use this option)

Once a week, just before you get a new fresh tan, exfoliate heavily (more of a “scrub” effect) especially focusing on dry skin areas, like feet, ankles, hands, knees or any areas of build up”. This would be required for most self tan users,  once a week roughly. Though some would do this every 5 days, every 7 days or every 10, or 15 days. Again, it depends on each client, products used, tan depth etc.  So adjust as needed.

A few lucky ones, never need to exfoliate, and can maintain a great tan year round – I am not one of them :)  – Kind of hate them actually – LOL

But keep in mind that’s normally the exception rather then the rule. Many clients do find at least some exfoliation will help the tan develop, wear and fade better. But use the method that works best for you.

The facial mitt can be used on the face more often as needed to help remove any uneven fading, then client can refresh color on face as needed at home.

Tan Removal:

To assist in removal of an old or unattractive self tan, ask client to cover skin head to toe in a skin friendly cosmetic oil based product. Mineral oil neat or Baby Oil, will both work well,  and are inexpensive, and available at any drugstore in the Babycare products aisle.

They can also substitute any “wet” slow absorbing oil of choice. A “wet” or slow absorbing oil does not absorb into the skin fast, is thicker, and tends to leave a very wet/oily sticky or coated feel on the skin, which is what you want in this instance.  Examples are mineral oil, coconut oil, evening primrose, palm, avocado, flax, sunflower and others.

Dry oils absorb faster, and do not leave skin feeling “wet” or oily, which makes them a great option to use just before self tanning for a light moisterization. The TBT MoistAire Product is an example of a Dry oil product.

After the oil coat, Put on some loose comfortable absorptive garments that cover skin surface,(to prevent oil on furniture) such as sweat pants, track pants or leggings, and a soft cotton type Tee Shirt. Let oil absorb into the skin for 20-30 minutes or more. (just based on personal preference)

Then take a long soaking warm tub bath for 20 minutes or so, and use the mitt to gently exfoliate the skin in overlapping manner, client may use a scrub or baking soda as well. But the mitt works best when used  alone. If use is uncomfortable, please use with soap to better lubricate the mitt, and adjust pressure on skin surface to prevent discomfort.

If no tub soak is possible, advise client to take a long shower, and repeatedly, but carefully, scrub skin with careful pressure to prevent irritation.

This can be done daily over a few days to remove much of the self-tanner. It is normally not possible to remove all self-tanner, as many tanned skin cells are still attached to the body surface, and will need to loosen on their own. The tub soak will increase the ability of the attached skin cells to release.

This would be used as an occasional self tan removal, when client wants to start again with a “clean slate”, removing build up that may prevent even fading.  This is not required once a week, for regular tanning. Normally a good in shower exfoliation with the mitt, (once a week, with a light exfoliation mid week if needed) will remove “some” (not all) of the surface tan, leaving some color on the skin.

Follow up with a fresh reapplication of tanning product at appropriate levels, and DHA range, will rebuild color enough to even out the tan, and blend old and new color together.

Exfoliation Mitt Details:

The mitt itself is large sized, dark green color, with a cuffed wrist. This allows it to fit a range of hand sizes, and the soft non scratch cuff keeps it in in place during use. This is a very thick multi-layered mitt.

I personally found many mitts and gloves on the market are very thin, usually one ply (hold them up to the light, and you can easily see light shining through). This create a product that tears and stretches out of shape with repeated use, meaning frequent replacement to maintain effectiveness.

They also tend to have very weak thread stitching, that is not reinforced. In my experience, they tended to fall apart easily at seams, and only last a few months before you need to throw them away.

This is really evident if you machine wash your mitt regularly, which you really should do, to limit bacterial growth in the material.  Manual exfoliation creates tiny micro tears in the skin surface, which is normally not a problem, and can contribute to increased collagen growth in the skin, and a long term anti-aging skin firming effect.

But these same tears can also allow bacteria to penetrate easily into the skin, as its protective layer is now compromised/opened. Dirty Loofahs, cloths, pouffs, sponges, or mitts can create a breeding ground for skin rashes and irritation such as folliculitis (an inflammation of the hair follicles, characterized by red bumps, itching, and infection)

So a good mitt SHOULD be able to be washed weekly, or monthly (depending on environment and need) in a washing machine, or dishwasher top rack. (hot water recommended for best sanitation)

Or placed (when wet) in a microwave, and “cooked” until steaming. 30 seconds to 1-3 minutes when wet. Please do not leave unattended to prevent damage.

You can also disinfect with a bleach wash, though I have not personally done this with my mitts, as I found regular machine washing was enough. Note: the manufacturer does not mention this option, so use at your own risk. But this does work well with most bathing cloths, poofs etc.

Disinfect the mitts every few days by soaking in a dilute bleach solution (for synthetics, ¾ cup of bleach per gallon of warm water; for natural fibers, ¼ cup of bleach per gallon of cool water) for at least 5 minutes. This may effect/fade color of the mitt and or cuff.

OK I keep my stuff clean, lets hear more about the mitt already!

The Smittens Body Exfoliation mitt, is super thick, with many layers on both sides. It is unpadded. It becomes flexible when wet.

The seams are heavily stitched and have flat seaming finish to minimize wear at seams, and lessen irritation on the skin.

The facial mitt is also very thick, though smaller, and is a finger mini-mitt, which allows you to easily exfoliate the facial areas, including around the nose, eyes, and lips. Being smaller (and still thickly layered) it is less flexible. More stiff. I recommend you use this wet, on wet skin to minimize drag on the skin surface.

Because it is a manual exfoliate tool, it also helps as an anti-aging device, and can enhance penetration of skin care activates, minimize scars, and fine lines, and help with acne treatment. Of course, adjust usage level, and pressure against the skin based on your skins sensitivity. You do not want to irritate the skin, as that is not needed to obtain excellent results.

Some flushing and light redness many occur with use, but skin should never, hurt, bleed, or experience rawness. Use extra caution if you regularly use Retin A, Retinol’s, AHAs or other Chemical, or manual skin exfoliates.  Skin will be extra sensitive in these cases. Do not scrub over active acne lesions, cold sores or other skin irritations.

Both mitts are made with sustainably sourced Bamboo Fiber “micro-fiber” weft type material, which is naturally anti-bacterial and easily washed by hand or in a machine to maintain cleanliness. The material will exfoliate, but when wet is not what I would consider “super scratchy”, so it will minimize tears and scratches to the skin.  Extra scratchiness or irritation is not indicative of “better” exfoliation. Only indicative of more pain and irritation – which is not really the best option to maintain healthy and youthful skin.

When wet, mitts become more flexible, and easier to mold around body areas. (unlike loofas which tend to skip skin areas, making an uneven exfoliation)

The abrasiveness is in the medium range, less abrasive then many of the Heavy Duty Turkish Type Peeling or Body mitts (which gave me a heck of a rug burn!! – ouch)

Adjust scrub action, based on how hard/soft you press on the skin.

The wet mitt material allows it to slide over the skin, rather than dragging, which is very important to maintain skin health, and not increase skin sagging, or wrinkling. (very important on thin skin areas such as the face, chest or neck)  A dry mitt will drag more.

Adding soap will also create a slicker surface, though exfoliation action will also change. I have used it with and without gel soaps, ether method will work. Just use the option that works best for your needs.

Mitt Care, my experience:

The body mitt has a hang loop for in shower drying. I personally use the face mitt in my shower also, and just open the base and stand it up like a little soldier to dry. But the open end can also be “perched” over a shampoo bottle, sleeved over the lid, if your bottle has a narrow cap.

Both mitts seemed to dry by the next day for me, I am in a humid location in the summer, dryer the rest of the year.  If your bathroom has limited ventilation, or your area is very humid, or very wet, you may need longer dry time. In these cases, I recommend more frequent machine washing to prevent bacteria overgrowth.

If ether mitt smells a bit sour, I just place them In a laundry bag and machine wash them both together. The package recommends not to machine dry to prevent damage. But I have machine washed and dried all my mitts, but please use your best judgement, as the manufacturer does not recommend this. It may limit product lifespan, though my mitts have held up very well so far.

Prestige Type Retail Packaging for sale to your clients:

Both mitts come is a nice Retail box that would look great in a Salon or spa. The box has a plastic tray, in which the mitts can be stored after they are dry.  The retail box is packaged in a plastic sleeve, and sealed with a clear tag to maintain cleanliness.

Because of length of this post, I will talk about the Application mitt on a separate post.

Length got away from me!


Happy Holidays Everyone, Be blessed wherever you are at this glorious season, and throughout next year!   — Vicki

Products available for sale HERE

Application Mitt article HERE: