We’re all in pursuit of perfect skin, and for many of us, that includes maintaining a bronzy summer glow year-round. But if you live in a region where you can’t enjoy the beach in fall and winter, the only safe way to do that is with a sunless tanning product, and that’s where self tanner products come into play.
We all know the dangers of indoor tanning beds, and no matter how effective they can be at tanning the skin, the benefits simply don’t outweigh the risks. But thanks to skincare and beauty brands everywhere, there are tons of sunless tanning products that will give you a sun-soaked summer look without ever having to absorb any UV rays.
We asked Susan Anderson, Lead Editor at The Worthy Goods, her thoughts on self tanner products and what her favorite products are. She shared, “Caring for our skin is crucial, and self tanners offer a way to achieve a sun-kissed glow without exposing ourselves to harmful UV rays.” She contuined, “Self tanners contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which reacts with amino acids on the skin’s surface to temporarily darken the skin. The best self tanner for you depends on your skin type and personal preference, with popular options such as St. Tropez, Jergens, and Bondi Sands.”
Our Favorite Self Tanners:
The Different Types of Self Tanner Products
Self tanners come in many different forms. There are tanning lotions. There are self-tan drops and serums. There are self-tanning mists and self-tanning foams. There is self-tanning mousse, sticks, and towelettes. Regardless of your skin tone or skin type, everyone seems to have their own preference as to which formulation is best.
The fact is, there is no “one best” formula—it all depends on what works for you, what type of products you prefer, and which products you can apply best.
And that’s what really matters. It’s less about choosing a particular type of self tanner and more about selecting one that you can properly apply.
How to Apply Self Tanner
There’s a reason why so many people pay for a professional spray tan:
Getting a streak-free natural-looking tan at home can be tricky, especially for beginners.
No matter what type of self-tanning product you use, there are a few key things you’ll need to do to create a natural-looking tan sans streaks.
Step one is to exfoliate. Applying the product over dead skin cells is a foolproof way to create a blotchy, streaky, uneven tan. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells, and it’s an essential first step, especially in areas where the skin is thick, such as knees, ankles, and elbows.
Step two is to dry the skin. You’ll get fewer streaks and more even color if your skin is prepped and dried before application.
Step three is to apply the tanner in circular motions. Whether you apply with your fingers or a tanning mitt, it’s best to work in small sections in a round motion to ensure that the product absorbs evenly into the skin.
Step four: let the product dry thoroughly before putting on clothes or getting into bed. Some self-tanners are quick-drying, and some are not. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and adhere to their advice on how long it will take the product to dry.
RELATED: 5 Benefits of Exfoliating Gloves [And Our 7 Favorites This Year]
The Best Self Tanner Products to Try Now
From drops to mousses to mists, here are 11 self-tanning products we love!
1. Bondi Sands Pure Self Tan Foaming Water
Vegan and cruelty-free, Bondi Sands Pure Self Tan Foaming Water comes in two shades that give you a dark tan or a light golden glow. Easy to put on with a Bondi Sands applicator mitt, this tanning water includes Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid for added hydration.
2. St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse
The St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse has a lightweight formula that doesn’t have that fake tan smell. How long you let it sit on the skin determines how deep the color will be. Shower one hour after application for a light tan, two hours after for a medium tan, or three hours after for a dark tan.
3. Tan-Luxe Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum
The Tan-Luxe Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum is the perfect way to get a summer glow on your face, neck, and décolletage. This sunless tanner comes in a lightweight and easy to apply serum form, and it includes cocoa seed extract to shield the skin from pollutants and raspberry seed oil with vitamin E.
4. Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops
Wish your favorite moisturizer or foundation could do double duty as a self-tanner? With the Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops, it can. Just mix a few drops in with your moisturizer, foundation, or body lotion and apply the product as usual.
Isle of Paradise drops include Vitamin C to brighten the skin and aloe vera to soothe, hydrate, and calm the skin.
RELATED: 11 Self Tanning Drops for That Summer Glow Year Round
5. Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Bundle
If you need to get your summer glow on in a short amount of time, the Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Bundle gets the job done in just about two hours!
Packaged with a soft applicator mitt for the body and a kabuki brush for the face and neck, this foaming mousse is lightweight and formulated with coconut, botanicals, and amino acids. It doesn’t have that sticky feeling that so many self-tanners have, but it has a pleasant tropical mango and guava scent.
6. Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel
The Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel is a lightweight and buildable gel that’s super quick-drying and designed to give you a gorgeous bronze glow year round. This hydrating gel isn’t greasy, and it dries so fast that you can get dressed right after applying it without worrying that it will stain your clothes.
7. L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Water Mousse
The L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Water Mousse is an ultra-lightweight and super hydrating self tanner with a yummy coconut smell. It dries quickly and creates a long-lasting yet gradual tan. Just be sure to let it dry completely before putting on clothes.
8. Tanologist Face + Body Drops
With Tanologist Face + Body Drops, you can customize how deep you want your glow to be by adding more (or fewer) drops to your foundation, moisturizer, or body lotion. In addition to offering great color, these drops include aloe vera to hydrate, pink grapefruit to brighten the skin, and juniper to help even your skin tone.
9. Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
If it’s a subtle glow you love, Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer is a great, affordable option that’s easy to apply and quick to dry. With antioxidants and Vitamin E, this product helps to fight free radicals and hydrate dry skin. This self tanner will not give you intense color, but it is a worthy choice if you want a hint of a glow.
10. Supergoop Healthy Glow Sunless Tan
With an SPF 40 sunscreen built in, the Supergoop Healthy Glow Sunless Tan delivers a beautiful glow and helps to protect your skin from the sun. This tanning spray is easy to apply – just spritz it on your body and rub it into the skin in circular motions. Color starts to develop in about two to four hours.
11. Coola Sunless Tan Dry Body Oil Mist
The Coola Sunless Tan Dry Body Oil Mist is oh-so-easy to apply. One application will give you a glow for about three days, and if you want a deeper tan, just apply a second layer! This tanner includes antioxidants, argan oil, Vitamin C, and it has a tropical scent, so you’ll look and smell like you just came from the beach.
Are Self Tanners Safe to Use?
Self tanners are the safest way to get a fake tan, and they’re generally safe for use on all skin types. However, if you have sensitive skin or specific skin conditions, it’s best to consult with your dermatologist before using one. They will be able to tell you which products are best for your skin type and which products you want to avoid.
You might also be interested in: 15 Best Products for Glowing Skin [An Easy Skincare Routine]
Best Self Tanner Products:
- Bondi Sands Pure Self Tan Foaming Water
- St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse
- Tan-Luxe Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum
- Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops
- Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Bundle
- Clarins Self Tanning Instant Ge
- L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Water Mousse
- Tanologist Face + Body Drops
- Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
- Supergoop Healthy Glow Sunless Tan
- Coola Sunless Tan Dry Body Oil Mist