The 11 Best-Tanners for a Sun-Kissed Summer Glow

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Spring is in full swing, and summer is right around the corner! After months of drab winter weather, we’re so excited to soak up the sun. But ultraviolet rays can be ultra-damaging, causing wrinkles and even increasing the risk for skin cancer. Hard pass! If you want a golden glow without all of the derm drawbacks, then self-tanners are a smart sunless solution.

Don’t be fooled by the allure of a natural glow. According to Harvard Health, a tan from the sun is actually a sign of skin cell damage. “The American Academy of Dermatology recommends self-tanning products as an alternative to tanning in UV light from the sun or an indoor tanning bed.” As opposed to the harmful consequences of absorbing UV radiation, Time reports that tanning products only affect the outermost layer of skin. “When used topically, I think it’s the only safe way to have a tan appearance,” Dr. Adam Friedman told Time, a director of dermatologic research. Safe and sun-kissed? Sign Us up!

How We Picked the Best Self-Tanners

Self tanners have truly changed my life. In the sun, my pale skin usually turns red instead of tan, so I’ve had to turn to artificial means for a golden glow. I have tried almost every self-tanning product under the sun (pun intended), from my OG holy grail Jergens lotion to my new favorite b.tan mousse. After a recent spray tan disaster, I’ve sworn off salon visits for good in favor of at-home treatments. Self-tanning is a much more affordable and convenient sunless strategy!

In Legally Blonde, the first cardinal rule of perm maintenance is that you are forbidden to wet your hair for at least 24 hours after getting a perm. The first cardinal rule of tan maintenance? Make sure you exfoliate your skin prior to applying self-tanner and then always wash your hands afterwards! My sister recently learned this lesson the hard way and ended up with orange palms. Orange you glad we warned you ahead of time?

Below are our top 11 picks for self-tanning products that will leave your skin with natural-looking color. Based on firsthand experience and consumer reviews, we chose self-tanners that are easy to use, efficient and effective. You’ll be a bronzed babe in no time!

1. b.tan Love at First Tan Self-Tan Mousse

Gold Medal for Golden Skin

Just like the name, it was love at first tan for me with this b.tan mousse! Once I discovered this sunless product during quarantine, I’ve never looked back. It’s almost impossible to mess up (trust me, my technique is far from perfect). Available in many different shades, this hue has a violet base that gets rid of orange tones. As another shopper declared, “Literally the best self-tanner I’ve ever used!”

Pros:

  • Streak-free application
  • No orange tones
  • Only have to keep it on for 1 hour minimum

Cons:

  • Honestly…none.

Available at: Walmart

2. Loving Tan 2-Hour Express Mousse

Cult-Favorite Color

 

Summer House’s Paige DeSorbo always has the most gorgeous glow in the Hamptons. And now we know her beauty secret — it’s Loving Tan’s 2-Hour Express Mousse. On a recent Amazon Live, she revealed, “The holy grail of at-home spray tans is Loving Tan.” I just tried this product for myself, and I was very pleased with the speedy process and olive results.

Pros:

  • Quick-dry
  • Natural-looking

Cons:

  • Slightly streaky

 Available at: Amazon

3. St. Tropez Classic Bronze Tanning Mouse

Tried-and-True Tan

St. Tropez tan

One of the most iconic self-tanners in the game is the St. Tropez Classic Bronze Tanning Mousse. Celebs from Kim Kardashian to Ashley Graham swear by this sunless brand. Harper’s Bazaar reports, “It develops the most natural-looking color without streaks when applied with care (and a tanning mitt.)” This is one of my go-to self tanners — big fan.

Pros:

  • Natural-looking color
  • Streak-free

Cons:

  • Doesn’t last very long

Available at: Nordstrom

4. Jergens Natural Glow Firming Daily Moisturizer

Lovely Lotion

The Jergens Natural Glow lotion is the self tanner that got me hooked back in the day. It’s a cult classic! As Allure said, Though this drugstore-friendly formula has been around since the dawn of self-tanner time, it still delivers one of the most natural, hydrating glows on the market. The creamy lotion simultaneously hydrates and imparts a believable bronze in a few days.” Don’t sleep on this oldie-but-goodie!

Pros:

  • Simultaneously tans and moisturizes
  • Natural color over time

Cons:

  • Color doesn’t get too dark

Available at: Target

5. Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water

Sunless Spray

Spritz on some color with this self-tanning water! Once I heard that Caelynn Miller-Keyes used this Isle of Paradise tan spray while filming The Bachelor, I immediately had to try it. My favorite part about this self tanner is the fact that I don’t have to shower it off afterwards and never stain my sheets. Score!

Pros:

  • Great glow
  • Don’t need to shower it off

Cons:

  • Invisible spray so application can be messy

Available at: Amazon

6. Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs

Glow on the Go

Sally Hansen Airbrush legs

Need to get glowing skin ASAP? The Sally Hansen Airbrush self-tanner is basically body makeup that won’t mess up your clothes. What was once a well-kept red carpet and photoshoot secret is now a bathroom staple for beauty buffs who wish they could slap a filter on their legs,” Allure wrote. My friend Kathryn Dennis told me about this product, and now I use it whenever I need some extra color before a special event.

Pros:

  • Quick fix instant color
  • Won’t stain your clothing

Cons:

  • Only stays on for a short amount of time

Available at: SkinStore

7. Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops

Golden Glow-Up

Tan-Luxe drops

Tanning your face can be a tricky endeavor. So, why not moisturize at the same time? The Tan-Luxe facial self-tanning drops are an insider beauty must-have. In fact, Kelly Ripa attributed her glowing complexion to Tan-Luxe drops: “This product is kind of remarkable. It stains nothing! It’s literally like applying moisturizer, but you really have to be mindful.”

Pros:

  • Facial self-tan solution
  • Can mix with moisturizer

Cons:

  • Application isn’t always even

Available at: Nordstrom

8. Supergoop Healthy Glow Sunless Tan

Sunkissed Sun Protection

Supergoop sunless tan

Protect your skin from the sun by choosing a self-tanner with added SPF. We love all of the products from fan-favorite sunless brand Supergoop (Glow Screen and Unseen Sunscreen are two of our faves) — but this self-tanner is next level with its streak-free formula and SPF 40. As Harper’s Bazaar said, When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that the brand behind some of the GOAT sunscreens also makes a great sunless tanner. The streak- and transfer-free formula can be used on both the face and body.”

Pros:

  • SPF 40
  • Natural-looking glow

Cons:

  • Customers are conflicted over efficacy

Available at: Nordstrom 

9. Via Liberata Body Blur

 Self-Tan Smoother

Vita Liberata body blur

According to beauty expert Allure, this Via Liberata body makeup is a “dream if you wish to diminish the appearance of cellulite, spider veins, and age spots and you’re in need of a temporary wash-off solution. New York City-based commercial and editorial makeup artist Lindsay Katsuk says this formula is also great for evening out your skin tone if your legs are paler than the rest of your body. It even won a Best of Beauty Award two years in a row — yep, it’s that good.” If you need a temporary tan fix, look no further!

Pros:

  • Evens skin tone and blurs imperfections
  • Wash-off solution

Cons:

  • Not long-lasting

Available at: Nordstrom

10. Bondi Sands Pure Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion

Transfer-Proof Tan

An Allure 2021 Best of Beauty Award winner, this Bondi Sands self-tanning lotion develops over one to three applications. One of the biggest perks of this product is that the lotion dries quickly and won’t stain your sheets. As a bonus, this self-tanner is packed with powerful ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and vitamin E.

Pros:

  • Quick-drying
  • Transfer-proof

Cons:

  • Takes time for color to develop

Available at: Ulta

11. Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Self-Tanner Mousse

Natural Glow

Last but not least, this Coco & Eve self-tanning mousse has earned a spot on many editor-approved lists. Harper’s Bazaar wrote, “This mousse uses an all-natural DHA to develop a tan, plus it’s packed with skin-loving ingredients like fruit-derived antioxidants and amino acids.” Not only does this self-tanner develop in just two hours, it also provides anti-aging benefits. One Amazon shopper proclaimed, “THIS STUFF IS AMAZING!!!!! If I could give it 10 stars I would!! It is simple to use and it really works!”

Pros:

  • Anti-aging properties
  • Natural DHA tan
  • Pleasant aroma

Cons:

  • Some reviewers said their hands turned orange

Available at: Amazon

Other Self-Tanners We Love:

  • Sol by Jergens Medium Water Mousse
  • Tan-Luxe The Crème 
  • Coola Organic Self-Tanner Dry Oil Mist

This Cellulite-Reducing Tanning Mousse Delivers the Most Natural Color

Looking for additional ways to elevate your beauty routine? Check out more picks below:

  • The 10 Best Long-Lasting Self Tanners

  • 12 Best Self Tanners Available at Ulta — Starting at $12
  • The 11 Best Swimsuit Cover-Ups for a Beach Vacation

Browse fashion, beauty and health products. Also, check out our gift guides.

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