Best Self Tanner

Having a year round tan makes you look healthy, glowing, and youthful. However, It can be hard to maintain the perfect sun-kissed skin without sun damage. Thanks to innovations in self tanners, now anyone can achieve a great tan without harming their skin. Here are eight great products you can try:

How Do Self Tanners Work?

Most sunless tanning products contain an ingredient known as dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, which is perfectly safe for use on skin. When this ingredient comes into contact with dead skin cells, the skin darkens, which creates the appearance of a tan. This faux tan typically lasts a few days, and when high-quality products are used, it actually mimics the look of a real tan without requiring harmful UV exposure.

Best Self Tanner for 2017

Here is a quick look at the best self tanner you can try today!

ImageBrandIdeal ForDrying TimeIt Lasts
Fake Bake FlawlessAll skin tones and types, instant tan, smells greatInstant5-7 Days
St. Tropez Moussesuper lightweight, easy to apply, instant tanInstant5-7 Days
Beauty by Earth Natural Sunless Self TannerAll natural, buildable tanning lotion, best for legs and armsLess than 20 minutes3-5 Days
Eco Tan Organic Face TanFace, Oily and Acne-Prone Skin, All natural10-20 minutes2-3 Days
Suave Professionals Visible GlowGradual self tanner, needs to apply daily30-40 minutesa Day
Jergens Natural GlowMore like a moisturizer, for fair skin, apply dailyLess than 10 minutesa Day
L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze TowelettesQuick and easy application, ideal for vacation1-2 minutes3-5 Days
Neutrogena Micro-Mist self tanning spray, messy to apply30-60 minutes4-5 Days

Types of Self Tanners

There are a wide variety of self tanning products on the market to achieve sunless tan. Regardless of your time frame, level of experience, or starting skin tone, you can find a product that suits your needs.

Self Tanning Moisturizer

If you've never used a sunless tanning product before, you might want to start with a self-tanning moisturizer. These products have a low concentration of DHA, which means they give a gentle hint of color. Moisturizers can help you build up to a healthy glow over time.

Self Tanning Lotion

If you want something a little stronger, go for a self-tanning lotion or cream. They typically contain higher concentrations of DHA, and they often have a tinted formulation. This means you can see if you missed a spot before it's too late, saving you from unsightly streaks.

Self Tanning Sprays

Self-tanning sprays are perhaps the best way to cover large areas fast. They take a bit of practice, but once you've gotten the technique down, you can easily cover hard to reach areas, ranging from the lower back to behind the legs. Experienced tanners can also try sunless mousses and gels. These products can be a bit trickier than other formulations, because they dry quickly. This means you have to be able to blend quickly. They do create a gradual, even tan, however, and they're a good option for maintenance purposes.

Tips for Achieving the Best Sunless Tan

If you've decided to try a self tanner, don't apply the product without doing a bit of preparation. Making sure your skin is receptive to the product is the best way to guarantee an even application and long lasting results.

  • First, exfoliate the skin. Take a shower and shave your legs, which gets rid of dead skin cells. Use a scrub or a manual exfoliator like a loofah or washcloth on the rest of the body.
  • By sloughing off dry, unhealthy skin, you are preparing the surface of your skin to receive the sunless tanning product.
  • Once you're out of the shower, wait until you're thoroughly dry to start applying the tanner.
  • If you have any dry patches, apply a small amount of oil-free lotion to the area and allow it to sink into the skin.

How To Apply Self Tanner

  • Once it's time to apply the sunless tanner, grab a pair of disposable latex gloves. These will keep your palms clean throughout the process, and the smooth surface of the gloves makes application easier.
  • Start applying the lotion to your feet, and move up from there.
  • Apply in small dollops, and work it into the skin via circular motions.
  • When you get to your face, apply a product that has been specially formulated for facial skin. If you use the same product everywhere, you risk irritation and clogged pores.​
  • Once you've finished applying the product everywhere, slightly dampen a washcloth. Then use it to buff the ankles, knees, and elbows, where color tends to collect. This ensures an even, flaw-free tan.
  • Before you put your clothes back on, read the application instructions on the package. Waiting an appropriate amount of time can keep the color from transferring to your clothing, sheets, or more.

Once you've figured out how to achieve a great tan, it's time to maintain it. A moisturizer can help prolong the look of the new tan between applications.

The Best Self Tanner Products

There are many great self tanners available, and they come in a wide variety of formulations and application styles. Here are a few that come highly recommended:​

Beauty by Earth Natural Sunless Self Tanner

If you're looking for a product that uses natural ingredients to provide potent results, try this great Beauty by Earth product. It's vegan, cruelty-free, and completely natural, and it's filled with beneficial ingredients like coconut oil and green tea leaf extract.

These highly moisturizing ingredients leave the skin looking healthy and feeling hydrated, and they combine with the DHA to create streak-free results. This sunless tanner is designed to be buildable, so users can use it everyday until they achieve their desired shade.

Pros

  • The product goes on white, which allows users to see if they've missed any areas
  • Results become visible within a few hours, which is quicker than other comparable products

Cons

  • For fairer skin, this might produces results that are too dark

Fake Bake Flawless

Fake Bake Flawless contains a cosmetic bronzer, which imbues the skin with an instantaneous golden glow. Once the bronzer fades, however, users are rarely disappointed by the remaining tan. This product uses a combination of DHA, DMI, and erythulose to achieve impressive results after one application.

It's also designed to be fast-drying, transfer resistant, and pleasantly scented. Fake Bake Flawless comes with a professional mitt, which makes the application process even easier. If you want a deep tan without the hassle of gradual build-up, this Fake Bake product might be right for you.

Pros

  • Though this product provides a dark tan, it's suitable for all people of all skin shades, from fair to deep olive
  • The included mitt speeds up the application

Cons

  • Product does transfer onto clothing

St. Tropez Mousse - Best Instant Self Tanner

St. Tropez produces some of the most popular self tanning products on the market, and this bronzing mousse is no exception. The lightweight formula dries in 60 seconds, which makes application quick and simple. You don't need to worry about staining clothes with this self tanning formula.

It's also tinted, ensuring that you can check to see if you've missed a spot. One application is enough to deliver a lovely bronze glow, even for the fairest of skin. It's also designed to be natural, streak-free, and pleasant smelling.

Pros

  • This product produces a tan that fades evenly
  • The tan often lasts as long as ten days

Cons

  • Some users find that the product leaves behind a sticky residue on skin

Eco Tan Organic - Self Tanner for Face

For some people, self tanning lotions and creams are too harsh for the facial skin. If you're searching for a self tanner for face that won't irritate sensitive skin, try this Organic Face Tan Water.

This product is formulated using great ingredients like Vitamin C, aloe vera, orange peel oil, and more. They work together to provide the face with a lovely bronze glow, while also helping to correct skin concerns like fine lines, wrinkles, and acne. This hydrating skin tonic is supposed to be applied to the face everyday after cleansing.

Pros

  • The lightweight formula is gentle on sensitive and acne-prone skin
  • This product isn't streaky or overly orange

Cons

  • Some users find the scent overpowering

Suave Professionals - Gradual Self Tanner

If you're looking for a subtle tan, try this Suave self tanning product. The lightweight formula is designed to provide gradual build-up for the perfect cumulative glow. The streak-free color can be used to achieve medium to dark tans, and it can be used on a variety of skin tones.

It also contains a healthy dose of hydration, actually providing skin with 24 hours worth of moisture. Sunless tanners can sometimes leave skin feeling dry, so this extra hydration is a bonus.

Pros

  • Leaves skin looking healthy and doesn’t accentuate fine lines and wrinkles
  • This product lasts as long as four days

Cons

  • It produces a thinner tan than other products

Jergens Natural Glow - Self Tanner for Fair Skin

Maintaining a healthy glow is simple when you make it part of your daily routine. This Jergens moisturizer is gentle enough for everyday use, and it contains ingredients like Vitamin E and antioxidants that improve the overall condition of the skin.

This perennial winner of the Allure Best of Beauty Award is formulated using erythrulose and DHA to gradually darken the skin over time, making it ideal for people who want a healthy looking, sustainable tan. Thanks to the convenient pump form, it's easy to distribute the product evenly every time.

Pros

  • Pleasant, light scent
  • While this product does provide a subtle glow, it can eventually help even the palest people achieve their desired results

Cons

  • Some users find the formulation too thick for daily use

L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Towelettes

If you want to get a brilliant tan on the go, try these L'Oreal Paris Self Tanning Towelettes. Simply pack a few towelettes in your suitcase and stay bronze all vacation long. Each towelette is enough for one full-body application, and they provide a tan that's up to two shades darker than your original color. Besides the self tanning standby DHA, these towelettes are also chock full of skin-friendly ingredients like Vitamin E and exfoliating AHAs. After you've used these towelettes, your skin will look and feel beautiful.

Pros

  • Easy to apply
  • Provides a natural, streak-free look

Cons

  • Some users find that the towelettes dry out before they've applied product to their entire body

Neutrogena Micro-Mist Sunless Tanning Spray

This Neutrogena product is designed to mimic the effects of a professional airbrush spray. The fine mist coats the skin quickly, and the spray nozzle makes applying to hard to reach areas easy. The formula is oil-free, alcohol-free, and non-comedogenic, which means that it's safe to use on sensitive and acne-prone skin. If you're searching for an easy way to achieve a healthy glow, this Neutrogena product makes the whole process simple.

Pros

  • Thanks to the quick-drying formula, you can safely put clothes back on after five minutes
  • The applicator has a one-touch continuous spray, which ensures a streak-free, even tan

Cons

  • Some users find that they still have to rub the product into the skin, despite the spray nozzle

Conclusion

People interested in self tanners should choose the product that best suits their needs. For some people, it might be a skin-friendly moisturizer that allows them to gradually build to their desired shade over the course of several weeks. For others, it might be a mousse that provides a dark tan after only one use.

The best overall self tanner, however, might just be Fake Bake Flawless.Thanks to its unique combination of DHA, DMI, and erythulose, Fake Bake Flawless produces dark yet natural results.

The formula mimics professional results, and the application process is easy enough for even first time users. Whether you're a self tanning veteran or someone who's never tried a faux glow, you won't be disappointed by the results of Fake Bake Flawless.