When thinking (or daydreaming) about summer, a few smells come to mind: barbecue, salty ocean air, bug spray, and for the beauty-obsessed, self tanner. Of all the skincare essentials, it’s the one most synonymous with warm weather. While sitting in the sunlight can be great for your physical and mental health, too much of it can also do the opposite. If you have skin that is prone to burning and irritation, sunbathing is especially out and reinforcements, like self tanner, are in. The latter is like a traditional sun tan but better, because you have more control over the amount of product, which in turn gives you a certain level of control over the intensity of your glow.
Still, it’s easy to do self tanner wrong. If applied wrong, you can be left with streaks, orange lines, and uneven color on your face and body. Bad timing, like rinsing prematurely or getting dressed before the formula dries, can leave stains on your clothes. The best self tanner for you is one that comes in a shade complimentary to your natural tone, at a price you can afford, and made with ingredients your skin can tolerate. Most importantly, your best self tanner comes in a formula you can easily work with, whether it’s mousse, gel, cream, or otherwise.
Our Method For Finding The Best Self Tanners
Our list of the best self tanners covers a range of preferences, from sensitive skin-friendly to eco-conscious to newbie-approved. We found these glowy gems with the help of our ultra smart and unbiased algorithm tool that analyzes a spectrum of data to identify product picks. They include beauty editor recommendations, expert reviews, and word-of-mouth on social media. Glow on and see what we found.
Up next, check out our 10 Best Gradual Self Tanners. Opening image: @cocoandeve
Top 10 Lists serve as unbiased shopping guides to the most trusted product recommendations on the internet. Products are scored and ranked using an algorithm backed by data consumers find most valuable when making a purchase. We are reader-supported and may earn a commission when you shop through our links.
B.Tan Self Tanner Mousse
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL LOVE: This is a must-try for those who want a dramatic tan that also won’t completely alter their face. The mousse is completely vegan, and infused with multiple plant-based oils to keep the skin nourished as it darkens. It’s also quick-drying and free of parabens and palm oil.
SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: Expect results in just one hour but leave on for at least four if you’re looking for the most dramatic results.
Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL LOVE: No mitts needed with this luxurious feeling self-tan oil that can be mixed with your moisturizer, serum or oil before applying evenly to the face. This is truly a skincare-first product, as the formula includes aloe vera and vitamin E, both of which help retain moisture in the skin.
SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: To elongate your glow, be sure to exfoliate your skin daily.
Jergens Natural Glow + Firming Daily Moisturizer
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL LOVE: Jergens’s self tanner is a drugstore classic, thanks to its easy application and natural-looking results. In addition to creating a tan, it also helps reduce the appearance of cellulite with a formula that includes firming collagen and elastin.
SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: This should replace your daily body moisturizer, as opposed to being combined.
Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL LOVE: If you’re looking for a self-tanner with anti-aging benefits but are wary of tanning agents, Coco & Eve’s formula will put you at ease. It’s one of the few products to use an all-natural DHA agent, in addition to natural antioxidant and a proprietary blend that addresses lack of skin firmness.
SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: The formula is also made with a green-grey base that helps prevent orange tones upon application.
St. Tropez Self Tan Express Advanced Bronzing Mousse
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL LOVE: St. Tropez is arguably the most popular self-tanning brand in the market, thanks to cosigns from various Hollywood experts and its unique formulas. This customizable, time-efficient product is mostly vegan and includes naturally-derived actives for achieving a golden glow.
SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: Leave on for just one hour for a light tan, two hours for a bronze tan, and three hours for a dark tan.
Tan-Luxe The Gradual Illuminating Gradual Tan Lotion
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL LOVE: Here’s a newbie- and busy body-friendly formula that can be applied to the face and body. The texture is a blend of oil and lotion that requires no rinse, and delivers color in as little as one hour. It also includes the brand’s exclusive Cellutone Complex, which breaks down fat cells to gradually decrease the appearance of cellulite.
SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: While a lot of self-tanners require clean and dry skin before application, Tan-Luxe ask that you be lightly moisturized before applying this lotion.
Isle Of Paradise Self Tanning Drops
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL LOVE: These self-tanning drops are the ultimate multitasker, tackling color, uneven tone, dryness, and redness in just a couple of drops. Standout ingredients include hydrating glycerin, antioxidant-rich chia seeds, and soothing coconut oil.
SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: Mix with your favorite face and/or body products. The number of drops depends on how deep you want your tan to be; the more drops, the darker.
Beauty By Earth Self Tanner Tanning Lotion
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL LOVE: This affordable self-tanning lotion is celebrated for being sensitive skin-friendly. The cruelty-free lotion keeps all of the ingredients that nourish and correct—like organic aloe vera and shea butter—but leaves out the nasties, including artificial fragrance, parabens, and phthalates.
PRODUCT REVIEW: “Top tier best of the best tanner. I fully paid for this product and believe it was worth every penny. I’ve used every tanner under the sun and nothing has ever compared to this product. It doesn’t create those little black dots in your pores, it looks like a medium- deep natural tan (think tropical vacation after 4 days in the sun) I can’t believe people even bother with anything else. I applied it and slept in a bright white top and didn’t see a single spot on it in the morning. I love the ingredients, how glowy and smooth I look and the price for how amazing it is.”
Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL LOVE: Some of the best self-tanning brands and products hail from Australia, including this internationally known best-seller. Bondi Sands was one of the first brands to create a vegan self-tanning formula that also includes trusted ingredients for addressing dryness and sensitivity-prone skin. This one is enriched with aloe vera, coconut, glycerin, and panthenol.
SOMETHING ELSE TO KNOW: This is a classic self tanner, which means you should apply to dry skin with a tanning mitt and leave on anywhere from one to six hours before rinsing off.
St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL LOVE: St. Tropez has a lot of self-tanning formulas but its bestselling classic formula continues to be the most popular. Suitable for all skin types and free of that infamous self tanner smell, the water-based formula is refreshingly minimal with a combination of natural tanning agents and nourishing properties like glycerin and jojoba esters.
PRODUCT REVIEW: “When I say I have tried practically every self tanner, I’m not exaggerating. Some might say I have a small addiction to self tanner;). I always come back to St. Tropez. It is one of the few that leaves an actual golden tone on the skin, rather than the orange that most other tanners leave. Goes on evenly, and most importantly, no harsh self tanner smell!! It’s the best! The mousse is my favorite!!!”