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16 Best Self-Tanners to Get the Glow Without the Sun

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Photo by Guido Mieth / Getty Images

Self-tanning doesn’t have to be an untouchable endeavor that is more anxiety-ridden than it’s worth. Products that you apply in the comfort of your home are better now than they’ve ever been, and as long as you know a few simple tips and tricks, you’ll be golden—literally. So to help you reach your bronze goddess goals without the pain of a sunburn, we found out how the pros recommend tanning at home. We spoke with Jessica Lee, founder of nudeFX Spray Studio, who spilled the secrets to a foolproof tan. “The key to a seamless self-tanner application is using a product that has an end result close to your natural skin tone,” says Lee. “If you opt for a color that, when developed, is too far away from your natural skin tone, you're likely to have obvious streaking if applied wrong. Gradual self-tanners can be a great option as well, since they are more natural at first, and can build a deeper tan over multiple applications.”

“Make sure to shower, shave, and exfoliate a few hours before applying self-tanner,” says Lee. “While you're in the shower, skip any oil-based products that could leave a film on the skin, as these act as a barrier and won't allow your tan to develop evenly.” She also adds that you should “always apply your self-tanner onto clean skin” that’s free of products like deodorant, lotion, and perfumes. Ready to try it for yourself? Read below to discover 16 self-tanning products we’re loving right now.

Need a masterclass in sunless tanning? Watch the video below:


About the Expert:

Jessica Lee is the founder of nudeFX spray studio in Richmond Virginia. nudeFX also sells tanning accessories and products, including tan extenders, tanning water, and more.

1. Best Self-Tanner for Face:

TAN-LUXE The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops

TAN-LUXE The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops
Courtesy of TAN-LUXE

Not everyone’s a fan of slathering thick tanning lotions on the face, so TAN-LUXE opted for a lightweight face option made from raspberry seed oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera. It acts like semi-permanent makeup to even out skin tone and mask dark spots for an even, radiant glow that appears in just a few hours. These drops make it easier than ever to match your face tan to the rest of your body, and it’s safe to say that these are a must-have in your self-tan routine.

2. Best Self-Tanner Shade Range:

B.TAN Too Tan to Give a Damn Mousse

B.TAN Too Tan to Give a Damn Mousse
Courtesy of B.TAN

The tanning mousses at B.TAN range from “Fake It Til You Make It” all the way up to four shades higher at “Too Tan To Give A Damn.” So if you’re unsure how bronze you want to glow, this is a great brand to turn to for options. Plus, each mousse in this line is 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and formulated without added harsh chemicals. Remember, always make sure to follow the instructions of your product closely and don’t assume that leaving the product on longer than directed will yield the results you’re looking for. “Despite what you may think, [past eight hours] most self-tanners don't get darker the longer you leave them on, so there's no reason to keep it on your skin for over 24 hours in hopes of achieving a deeper shade,” explains Lee. “Instead, you'll end up with an unnatural result and may throw off the pH balance of your skin.”

3. Best Full-Body Self-Tanner Kit:

MINETAN Bronze Babe Home Spray Tan Kit

MINETAN Bronze Babe Home Spray Tan Kit
Courtesy of MINETAN

This kit includes one Bronze Babe Spray Tan Machine, one Coconut Water Pro Spray Mist, and one Bronze on Applicator Mitt, so it’s basically like bringing the salon to your home. If an at-home self-tan is part of your regular beauty routine, then you need this kit in your arsenal.

4. Best Self-Tanning Water:

ISLE OF PARADISE Self-Tanning Water

ISLE OF PARADISE Self-Tanning Water
Courtesy of ISLE OF PARADISE

Tanning water sprays are made to hydrate and nourish skin while canceling out redness and uneven skin tones. Spritz this over your entire body, and you’ll see a richly developed glow in about four to six hours. This universally-flattering shade from ISLE OF PARADISE is also formulated with coconut, chia seed, and avocado oil, making it an organic, natural way to hydrate and nourish your skin.

5. Best Foam Self-Tanner:

COCO & EVE Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam

COCO & EVE Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam
Courtesy of COCO & EVE

This lightweight, non-sticky formula dries and develops quickly (your new bronze shade will be ready in just two hours!). Plus, since it’s silicone-, toxin-, and paraben-free, this foam is truly a healthier way to get a sun-kissed glow without ever setting foot outside.

6. Best Tan + Anti-Aging Self-Tanner:

COOLA Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum

COOLA Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum
Courtesy of COOLA

If this already sounds like the product of your dreams, keep reading—because it gets better. This multitasking face serum simultaneously bronzes your face and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and chlorella vulgaris extract.

7. Best Shimmer Color:

SOL DE JANEIRO GlowMotion Glow Oils

SOL DE JANEIRO GlowMotion Glow Oils
Courtesy of SOL DE JANEIRO

If you want just a hint of color and a whole lot of shimmer, this oil formula is for you. Enriched with coconut oil and açai oil, this formula is safe to use both on your body and face, so you only need to pack one product when you’re planning for an on-the-go glow. Just apply it directly to your arms and legs, or mix in a tiny drop with foundation for a full-body glow.

8. Best Self-Tan Extender:

SOUTH SEAS Tahitian Tan Extender

SOUTH SEAS Tahitian Tan Extender
Courtesy of SOUTH SEAS

This formula contains a 2% DHA level, which means it can help build a tan over time or extend your existing tan for a bronze that keeps on glowing. All you have to do is apply daily or every other day as you notice your natural or artificial tan fading.

9. Best Fast-Drying Self-Tanner:

HANALEI COMPANY Self-Tanning Mousse

HANALEI COMPANY Self-Tanning Mousse
Courtesy of HANALEI COMPANY

This self-tanning mousse darkens over time and dries quickly with no transfer. Even better, it comes with an applicator mitt so you don’t have to worry about stained hands and can get back to business after a quick application. No splotchy self-tan hands here!

10. Best Unscented Self-Tanner:

SKIN AUTHORITY Sunless Tanner

SKIN AUTHORITY Sunless Tanner
Courtesy of SKIN AUTHORITY

This formula nourishes skin with vitamins C and E and helps support healthy vitamin D production over time with added vitamin D. While we love using this product year-round, it’s especially amazing to have in your winter product lineup, as it can help boost your vitamin D production at a time when many people don’t realize they’re experiencing a deficiency.

11. Best Luxury Self-Tanner:

DIOR Bronze Self-Tanning Jelly Gradual Glow for Face

DIOR Bronze Self-Tanning Jelly Gradual Glow for Face
Courtesy of DIOR

When you’re putting a tanning product on your face, you want to make sure it’s one of the best—especially if you have sensitive skin. Enter: This gradual glow tanner from DIOR that creates an even, natural tan without clogging pores.

12. Best Self-Tanner Tanner + SPF Combo:

SUPERGOOP! Healthy Glow Sunless Tan SPF 40

SUPERGOOP! Healthy Glow Sunless Tan SPF 40
Courtesy of SUPERGOOP!

SUPERGOOP! products are formulated without oxybenzone, which means every product is not only safe for you, but also safe for ocean reefs. You can build color with this spray and see a natural glow develop in as little as two hours.

13. Best Face & Body Self-Tanner:

DRUNK ELEPHANT D-Bronzi™ Anti-Pollution Sunshine Serum Drops

DRUNK ELEPHANT D-Bronzi™ Anti-Pollution Sunshine Serum Drops
Courtesy of DRUNK ELEPHANT

If you want a tanning serum that will blend seamlessly into your skincare routine, all of DRUNK ELEPHANT’s products are meant to work well together so you don’t have to be anxious about mixing products and triggering a poor skin reaction. These drops are formulated with vitamin F and black currant seed oils to replenish the skin’s barrier while boosting its defenses with antioxidants.

14. Best Towelette Self-Tanner:

DR. DENNIS GROSS Alpha Beta® Glow Pad™ Gradual Glow

DR. DENNIS GROSS Alpha Beta® Glow Pad™ Gradual Glow
Courtesy of SEPHORA

Be ready for anything with these on-the-go glow towelettes that are perfect for traveling or keeping in your purse. You can create your perfect shade of buildable color all while exfoliating your skin and replenishing it with sodium hyaluronate.

15. Best Self-Tanner for Sensitive Skin:

CLARINS Self Tanning Instant Gel

CLARINS Self Tanning Instant Gel
Courtesy of CLARINS

This gel self-tanner is formulated with naturally sourced plant sugars that give skin a sun-kissed look without using harmful chemicals. Since it’s non-greasy and non-oily, it dries quickly on the skin and won’t clog pores. The addition of glycerin keeps skin moisturized throughout the day, making it perfect for sensitive skin.

16. Best Overnight Self-Tanner:

BONDI SANDS Pure Self Tanning Sleep Mask

BONDI SANDS Pure Self Tanning Sleep Mask
Courtesy of BONDI SANDS

Getting envy-worthy skincare results while you sleep? We’re here for it. This overnight mask is packed with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C and E to brighten. The best part is that this mask is also suitable for sensitive skin. Once you get the desired effect you want after trying it for a few days, you can reapply every two days to maintain the look.

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About the author
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Brittany Leitner
Brittany is an award winning beauty, health, and lifestyle writer and author of the poetry book "23 Emotions." She has eight years of experience writing for brands like Elite Daily, The. Dr. Oz Show, Shape, Stylecaster, Bustle, and more.
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Article Last Updated March 6, 2023 12:00 AM