I don’t have super duper pale skin but I’m naturally a pretty pasty shade of white. As much as I love being bronze all year round, I’m just much too lazy to use self tanners when I know I’m going to be hiding everything under multiple layers of clothing in the winter. Now that summer is coming, it’s tanning time again!
Here are 7 awesome self tanners I’ve have used for years and still love. I always apply these at night and then wash them off in the morning in the shower. These products on my list won’t make you look like an oompa loompa!
I’ve broken down the list into 2 categories: regular self tanners and gradual tanners.
Let’s first start off with my favorite self tanners. These will get you the perfect summer glow after 1 or 2 applications.
St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse
The St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse is a cult favorite amongst tan enthusiasts and I totally get why! This tanning mousse has a green undertone which helps the product develop a natural bronze color on your skin with no orange streaks. Although the greenish-brown foam that comes out can look a little scary, don’t be afraid of it because the tinted color will help guide you to see where you have already applied the product.
This product dries super fast after applying so you’ll be free to put your clothes back on pretty much right away. I find that this product lasts 4-5 days for me and doesn’t fade in a patchy way after it starts to fade.
It’s a premium product that comes at a cost so if you’re not willing to shell out the dough for a high-end self tanner, try some of my other drugstore favorites below!
To apply, I like to use the St. Tropez Tanning Mitt (sold separately from the mousse) or the Fake Bake Tanning Mousse Tanning Mitt, which I talk about below. The mitts are both equally as good and really help to buff the product into your skin and prevent streaking.
Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tanning Liquid
A great alternative to the St. Tropez Tanning Mousse that gives you a similar result is the Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tanning Liquid. It’s more affordable in price and also includes a solid tanning mitt that’s great at buffing in the product for fewer chances of streaking.
This comes in a dark brown liquid with a greenish undertone. Like the St. Tropez Tanning Mousse, don’t be afraid of the dark brown color when you apply it as it acts as a tinted color guard. Once the product washes off, you’ll be left with a beautiful, natural brown color.
The Fake Bake Flawless lasts me about 3 days before I have to re-apply it again. Although it doesn’t last as long as the St. Tropez, it also doesn’t fade in a patchy way and the results are really natural looking.
Hawaiian Tropic Island Radiance Self Tanning Lotion
The Hawaiian Tropic Island Radiance Self Tanning Lotion in Medium is one of my favorite drugstore tanners because it always looks like I’ve just come back from vacation after application. It claims that it darkens your skin up to two times and I can vouch that it works! I like to use latex gloves to apply this twice a week to keep up with the color that I like.
Not only does this develop nicely with no orange tones, it also doesn’t have the typical offensive self tanner smell, which is very important for me when I buy self tanners.
The only things that I wish the Island Radiance Self Tanner had was a better nozzle and that it dried a little faster as it’s a very moisturizing lotion. This lotion is also great at not leaving streaks if you rub it in evenly although it does take more work to buff it in so I wouldn’t recommend it for a beginner. For the color and the cheap price though, this is an awesome product.
Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion
The Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion is an oldie but a goodie (I’ve been using this on and off for almost a decade now!). This is a cheap drugstore self tanner that develops into a beautiful brown color with no orange hues. I use Deep Dark, even though I have fair skin and this seems to help me get a faster and darker tan compared to the Light/Medium shade.
The only thing that I could potentially complain about this is the smell, which isn’t as great as some of the other self tanning lotions out on the market. However, because I get no streaks when applying this with latex gloves and my tan stays on for about a week, I can live with the smell.
Gradual Self Tanners
Now let’s move on to some of my favorite gradual self tanners. What I like most about gradual self tanners are that they are a 2-in-1 product that acts both as a moisturizer that also adds a bit of color to your skin. They’re also great to experiment with first if you’re a beginner or you only want a hint of color.
Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
If you’re a beginner at self tanning and want a product that’s easy and hassle-free, the Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer is a great novice option. It’s a gradual daily moisturizer that you apply to your skin a few days in a row until you reach your desired level of color. Since it’s a gradual tanner, the color that develops is more subtle and isn’t as dark as a regular sunless tanner, which means fewer chances of messing up! I usually buy this in Medium To Tan and love how it doesn’t turn me orange.
Jergens used to have a gradual tanner that smelled atrocious back in the day and I’m so glad that this product replaced it! The scent of this is pretty nice compared to other products that have the typical intense self tanner smell.
One thing that isn’t so great about the Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer is the amount of time it takes to dry on your skin if you apply too much as it’s a pretty emollient moisturizer. You also have to be careful not to stain your hands when applying the lotion because it will turn your hands orange if you don’t wash your hands after! To prevent this, I like to wear latex gloves when applying.
Nivea Sun-Kissed Radiance Gradual Tanner & Body Lotion
Another great gradual self tanner is the Nivea Sun-Kissed Radiance Gradual Tanner & Body Lotion in Medium to Dark. This lotion creates a beautiful, natural glow to the skin that isn’t too noticeable or fake looking so it’s perfect for you if you like having a really subtle tan.
If you’re looking for a gradual tanner that will give you a super dark and noticeable look though, you may want to try my previous self tanner suggestions or the Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer. This product (despite it being the darkest shade) probably won’t achieve the look you’re looking for.
Balea Glow Sunless Tan Gelee
The Balea Glow Sunless Tan Gelee is a discontinued product here in Canada but if you are still able to grab a hold of this, I would highly recommend you do! It’s a gel-like consistency with a greenish-brown colored base and produces a beautiful, brown color once it develops. Although the gel is clear, it’s fool-proof and streak-free which I love.
Not only is it easy to apply, the smell of this is also awesome because it’s so subtle, unlike many of the other self tanners on the market. It also dries in under two minutes.
Although this is labeled as a self tanner, the bronzey glow that it produces is very subtle (in a good way) and very natural looking so I like to consider it more of as a gradual self tanner and apply it every other day until I reach my desired color.
I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my favorite self tanners that I can’t live without in the summer. If you love being as dark as possible just like me, self tanners are the perfect way to achieve that without having to lay out in the sun, unnecessarily aging your skin prematurely, and spending a ton of money on spray tans.
Now all I have to figure out is how to prevent my bed sheets from staining overnight! Does anyone else who tans feel my pain?
What are some of your favorite self tanner products that you can’t live without during the summer? Feel free to share!