My fair skin and the summer sun never got along well. My skin just doesn’t tan even though I want it to. That’s why I’ve always been a self-tanner advocate. With self tanners, I can look good whenever I want, and I don’t have to risk it.or In the process.
But given my decade (or more, TBH)With the tanning lotion and self-tanning products, I learned a thing or two about how to get a golden glow without the sun.
The first step to nailing a fake tan that will have people wondering which beach you just got back from is to find a quality self-tanner. And believe me, there are manythere that can leave you too dark, orange or with streaks that can take a long time to fade.
Luckily, the list below has been verified based on reviews, beauty editor picks, or my personal experience. Keep reading for the best self tanner and sunless bronzer for your face and body.
The difference between a bronzer and a self-tanner
The list below includes both bronzers and self-tanners (some self-tanning products contain bronzers, FYI). A self-tanner is a product that contains a coloring additive, usually dihydroxyacetone, aka DHA, an ingredient that reacts with your skin to make it darker. Due to the nature of the product, you cannot “wash off” the tan. The color will usually last about a week, depending on how much sweat and shower you have, and if you hydrate.
A bronzer is a product designed to give you a bronzed glow, but it does not “tan” your skin and the color is only temporary. It’s just a layer of color, like makeup, that you apply to your face and body and can wash off.
There are so many reasons why this self tanning mousse is hands down one of the best products I have ever tried. First of all, I love that the mousse contains bronzer so you can see exactly where you’re applying it – and so you don’t get those embarrassing white spots where you missed it.
Second, the foam dries very quickly, so you don’t have to wait forever until you can get dressed. Finally, this self-tanning product works very quickly – within a few hours, but I usually leave it on overnight and wash out the bronzer in the morning. The color looks really good – it’s brown, not orange, and hard.
You only have to apply once to get a beautiful color, but depending on how dark you want to achieve, the product is buildable so you can reapply again. A word of advice: make sure you apply the mousse with a mitt because it dries so quickly that your hands will also stain more quickly. The self-tanning applicator mitt that St. Tropez makes works great for this.
This Tan-Luxe Serum is the perfect multitasker when you want color, plus hydration, antioxidants and SPF in one product. I use this serum under my moisturizer and it gives you a natural glow and a great feeling. But don’t just take my word for it — Allure’s beauty editors say it will give you an “otherworldly glow.”
I love that it has SPF in it so I can put it on before I go out and come back with a shine and no redness. The color is subtle and buildable, so you can wear it every day until you get the desired result. You can build up the color depending on how many drops you use at once – start with a few drops and you can build up to 12 drops for a more visible result.
Supergoop’s Sunless Tan looks like a lotion, but sprays on for easy application. You can use it on your face or body, but I prefer to use it on my body especially when I’m about to go out. This spray tan product is lightweight yet hydrating and easy to blend onto your legs or arms. However, it does not contain bronzer, so be sure to spray liberally where you want to color and blend well.
The product washes off easily from your hands after application. When I used this spray, I noticed it gave my pale skin a subtle, healthy glow. If you’re looking for a more dramatic tan, definitely try St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse, but it’s great for everyday use.
Drunk Elephant Bronzing Drops are so much more than bronzer – they contain a blend of nourishing oils and protective antioxidants. Although the color washes out, it looks so good when you mix it into a tinted moisturizer or even with your foundation for a subtle bronze glow.
Sephora/Island of Paradise
Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Water is a top seller at Sephora. The waters come in three different varieties that contain color-correcting actives. If you have redness, green water can help counter this, peach can help brighten the skin, and purple can help reduce orange tones.
You apply the spray directly to your face, then blend with a mitt or your hand (make sure to wash them off afterwards!).
Jergens Natural Glow is a classic (I’ve used it almost daily for years) and is a bestseller on Target.com. If you want a proven, hassle-free self-tanning body lotion, this product is a solid choice.
It’s affordable and the results aren’t dramatic – perfect for those new to sunless tanning who want a gradual tan and subtle glow. This sunless tanning lotion comes in two shades, medium for fair skin and medium tan for medium and darker skin tones.
If you’re looking for something similar but more affordable than St. Tropez tanning mousse, Bondi Sands self-tanner is a similar option but for less money. Like St. Tropez mousse, Bondi Sands mousse dries quickly and results appear within hours. The longer you leave it on, the more dramatic your results.
You can buy Bondi Sands mousse in light/medium or dark, and they also sell a self-tanning mitt to help you apply it.
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The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.