Posted 04/04/2024 in Self Tanners Corner1

Glow Like Summer: Best Self Tanner Picks for a Radiant Skin Tone

Glow Like Summer: Best Self Tanner Picks for a Radiant Skin Tone

Choosing the best self-tanner can be simple, and flawless application is within your reach. This guide demystifies the process, delivering key insights into selecting the right formula for your skin tone, understanding product ingredients like DHA, and sharing expert application techniques for a streak-free tan.

Key Takeaways:

  • Self-tanners are a safer alternative to sunbathing or tanning beds, allowing you to get a natural-looking glow at home without UV damage and the risk of skin cancer.

  • Choose the right self-tanner by considering your skin tone, the DHA level for desired intensity, and the product form (lotion, mousse, mist) for an optimal application experience.

  • Proper application, including exfoliating before use, applying with a tanning mitt, and maintaining with moisturizing and gentle exfoliation, is key to achieving and prolonging a flawless tan.

Achieving the Perfect Tan Without the Sun

Self-tanners are indeed a game-changer in achieving a radiant glow. They offer a safe and effective alternative to harmful UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds. Self-tanners color the top layer of skin, composed of dead cells that naturally shed in a few weeks, thereby avoiding cellular damage that can result in malignant changes. And the best part? With the best self-tanners, you can achieve a flawless, natural-looking tan from the comfort of your own home!

Despite some concerns, sunless tanners, also known as self-tanners, are widely regarded as safer than excessive sun exposure or the use of tanning beds, both known factors in the development of skin cancer. By decreasing the allure of obtaining a tan through harmful UV exposure, self-tanners play a crucial role in preventing skin damage and lowering the risk of skin cancer.

The Ultimate Guide to Selecting Your Self Tanner

Selecting the perfect self-tanner might seem overwhelming given the multitude of options available, but don’t worry! The key to choosing the right shade is to consider factors such as your skin type and skin tone. Whether your skin is fair, medium, olive, or dark and whether you have dry, oily, or sensitive skin these will significantly impact how a self-tanner will look on you. DHA concentration is also considered an important factor in getting the desired tanning intensity. Finally, the product form (lotion, mousse, or mist) is based on your personal preference.

We will delve into these factors more thoroughly.

Tips for Different Skin Tones

Your skin tone is an important factor in deciding the shade of self-tanner that matches your natural color. Consider the following tips if you have one of these skin tones:

  • Fair to Light Skin: if your skin tone falls between fair to light opt for light or medium tanners. You need to avoid very dark products as they can appear orange and unnatural. Gradual tanners are also an excellent choice for beginners, allowing the color to build subtly.
  • Medium to Olive Skin: people who have medium to olive skin tone have the flexibility to use medium to dark tanners. These shades will enhance the natural undertones without the risk of turning orange.
  • Dark Skin: Choose "Ultra Dark" tanners or those specifically formulated for deep skin tones. These products enhance your natural glow and help even out your skin tone.

Choose Based on Your Skin Type

Another important factor to keep in mind when shopping for the best self-tanner is your skin type; dry, oily, or sensitive:

  • Dry Skin: Look for tanners with moisturizing properties like hyaluronic acid or vitamin E. These ingredients prevent the patchy and streaky appearance often seen on dry skin.
  • Oily or Acne-Prone Skin: when dealing with oily or acne-prone skin you should be careful and avoid oil-based tanners.  Opt for oil-free, non-comedogenic options, such as mousse or sprays, to avoid clogging pores.
  • Sensitive Skin: sensitive skin doesn't love harsh chemicals and fragrances. So you need to steer away from self-tanners with harsh chemicals and fragrances. Always conduct a patch test to ensure you don’t react negatively.

Match Your Skin Tone:

Choosing a self-tanner that complements your natural skin color is vital for achieving a natural-looking tan. If you have fair skin with pinkish undertones or lots of freckles, a gradual tanner is your best bet. It allows you to build up to a natural-looking tan without turning orange. For those with light skin with warmer or neutral undertones, a developing self-tanner in a Light/Medium shade will give you that subtle glow you desire.

For those blessed with medium or olive skin tones, you can use darker shades of tan, such as Dark Self Tanning Lotion, Foam, or Mist. Individuals with dark skin can enhance their complexion with an Ultra Dark Self Tanning Foam or a shimmer product. Remember, the key is to enhance your natural beauty, not to change it!

Understanding DHA Levels:

DHA, or dihydroxyacetone, is a sugar derivative and the active ingredient in self-tanners. It binds to surface skin cells to produce a temporary darkening effect. The tanned appearance achieved with DHA-based products is the result of the Maillard reaction, where the DHA reacts with amino acids in the skin’s surface layer.

The concentration of DHA in self-tanning products varies. Products designed for gradual tanning typically contain a lower DHA percentage, while those for instant results have higher concentrations, influencing the intensity of the resultant tan. Typically, a formulation with a DHA concentration ranging from 5-8% is optimal to ensure an effective tan while taking into account skin health considerations.

Lotion, Mousse, or Mist?

The form of self-tanning products is largely dependent on personal preference. There are three main types available: lotion, mousse, and mist. If you’re new to the world of self-tanning, lotions are your best bet. They are easy to apply and blend smoothly into the skin. Some lotions are even enriched with aloe vera for additional hydration.

If you prefer a lightweight texture and quick-drying capabilities, mousses will be up your alley. They are favored by those with some self-tanning experience and often come with a guide color to aid fair-skinned individuals in achieving even coverage without mistakes.

For those who want a natural-looking tan that dries quickly without assistance, mists offer the convenience of spray application for more even distribution and ease in covering hard-to-reach areas.

Step-by-Step Application for a Flawless Tan

Having selected your ideal self-tanner, it’s time to apply it! Proper application of self-tanner is critical in achieving a flawless, streak-free tan. But don’t worry, even if you’re a beginner, we’ve got you covered with these step-by-step instructions.

Pre-Tan Prep:

Before you start slathering on the self-tanner, a bit of prep work is needed. The first step in preparing for tanning is exfoliating the skin. This helps with the absorption of tanning products and the removal of dead skin cells. For optimal tanning results, exfoliate the skin 24 hours before the application of self-tanner, particularly focusing on dry areas like:

  • feet
  • ankles
  • elbows
  • knees

To prepare your skin for a tanning session, follow these steps:

  1. Keep your skin well moisturized in the week leading up to the tanning session.
  2. Be sure to moisturize particularly dry areas thoroughly for 2 to 3 hours before applying self-tanner.
  3. Lastly, avoid using deodorants, perfumes, or any products that could create a barrier on the skin before the application of self-tanner.

The Art of Application: Tanning Mitt

When it’s time to apply the self-tanner, always use a tanning mitt. This will protect your hands from staining and ensure an even tan. Apply the self-tanner in light, long vertical strokes with the tanning mitt, working one body section at a time for a streak-free finish.

After application, use a slightly damp paper towel to lightly brush over knees, wrists, elbows, feet, and ankles to remove excess color and prevent unevenness. Remember, the tanning mitt should be used to evenly distribute and blend the self-tanner to achieve a flawless look.

Post-Tan Care:

Post-tan care comes next, once you’ve achieved that sun-kissed glow, to prolong the lifespan of your tan. Here are some tips to help your tan last up to 10 days:

  • Moisturize all over daily
  • Gently exfoliate every two to three days
  • Avoid hot baths and showers
  • Avoid chlorinated pools
  • Shower gently, using cooler water
  • Pat the skin dry post-application

Following these tips will help preserve your tan and keep it looking great for longer.

Hydrating the skin with products containing aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, or topical antioxidants such as vitamin E or C can extend the tan’s life and prevent patchiness and fading. Instead of shaving, which can exfoliate the skin, using a depilatory cream can help maintain the quality of your tan.

Our Top Self-Tanner Picks for 2024

The plethora of self-tanners available can be overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you. Whether you are a self-tanning novice or a seasoned pro, we’ve got the perfect pick for you! Our curated list of top self-tanner picks for 2024 includes:

Tan Luxe Illuminating Drops: This self-tanner is perfect for beginners and provides a natural-looking tan.


St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse: If you’re looking for a long-lasting tan, this self-tanner is for you.


Beauty by Earth: If you are looking for an eco-friendly formula while getting achieving your glow, this is your best bet. 


Jergens Instant Sun Glow: For a quick and easy application, try this self-tanner in spray form.


Bondi Sands Aero-Aerated Self-Tanning Foam: If you have sensitive skin, this self-tanner is gentle and won’t cause irritation.


We’ve got you covered. Each of our self-tanner picks not only caters to specific tanning preferences but also includes added skincare benefits, making them beginner-friendly and nourishing for the skin.

Best Self-Tanner for the Face:

When it comes to tanning your face, Tan Luxe Illuminating Drops are a game-changer. These drops can be mixed with your favorite moisturizer for a customized tan and buildable glow. The product is noted for its ability to be seamlessly integrated into any skincare routine, with users appreciating the minimal effort required to achieve a sun-kissed complexion.

Available in light/medium and medium/dark shades, these drops can also be mixed with various serums or oils, demonstrating the product’s flexibility. By adding just a few drops, they provide a natural-looking tan that lasts about three days, fading away evenly without any patchiness or flaking. Despite a higher price point, they are deemed a worthy investment.

Best Eco-Friendly Self-Tanner: Beauty by Earth with Natural Ingredients

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly self-tanner, Beauty by Earth with Natural Ingredients is the perfect choice for you. This self-tanner features a blend of natural and organic ingredients such as:

  • coconut oil
  • shea butter
  • cranberries
  • DHA derived from sugar beets

All are known for their skin-nourishing properties.

What sets it apart is its commitment to ethical and health-conscious beauty standards. It’s cruelty-free, free from harsh chemicals, and made in the USA. Plus, it provides a natural-looking glow and the ability to layer for a deeper color without producing an orangey tint, thanks to its aloe vera juice and antioxidants from green tea leaf and pomegranate extracts.

Best Quick Self-Tanner: Jergens Instant Sun for a Rapid Tan

In a hurry? Jergens Instant Sun self-tanner is designed to provide an instant tan that develops within hours, making it ideal for those who need a quick tanning solution. After applying Jergens Instant Sun, you can dress in loose clothing shortly thereafter due to its ability to dry in just 60 seconds.

Jergens Instant Sun offers a pleasant application experience by masking the typical odor associated with self-tanners, thanks to its fresh scent. Moreover, it includes moisturizers to keep the skin hydrated, enhancing its appeal to users looking for both a rapid tan and skin nourishment.

Criteria for Choosing the Best Self-Tanners

When curating our list of top self-tanners for 2024, our editors followed a rigorous selection process to ensure that only the best, safe, and long-lasting products made it to our list. Here are the key criteria we considered:

Quality and Safety

We prioritize self-tanners that are free from harmful chemicals and enriched with additional skin-nourishing components such as natural oils, and antioxidants.

Effectiveness and Natural Color 

We chose products that provide a realistic tan, avoiding those that might leave an orange or unnatural hue. 

Ease of Application

We all want a product that is easy to apply especially on hard-to-reach areas such as the back. Our picks include self-tanners that are easy to apply and come with features that help achieve a streak-free finish.

Skin Type Suitability

We selected self-tanners suitable for a variety of skin types. Whether you have sensitive, dry, oily, or combination skin, our recommendations cater to your specific needs, ensuring comfort and effectiveness.

Product Longevity and Maintenance

Our picks not only deliver an instant glow but also offer lasting results. We considered how long each tan lasts and how well it maintains its quality over time.

Customer Reviews and Feedback

We looked into customer reviews to measure the overall satisfaction of the selected product, paying close attention to any reviews or experiences reporting on skin reactions, the actual results versus advertised outcomes, and the value for the price.

Brand Reputation and Transparency

Finally, we made sure our selections were from reputable companies known for their commitment to using clean ingredients and offering high-quality customer service.

Customizing Your Tan: How to Build and Maintain

Every individual is unique, and so should their tan! Understanding how to customize your tan is therefore crucial. Let’s talk about starting subtle, applying more than one coat, and keeping that glow year-round!

Starting Subtle:

Starting with a subtle tan is perfect for those new to self-tanning or those with fair skin. Gradual tanners contain a lower concentration of DHA, enabling a slow and subtle development of tan. It’s a beginner-friendly approach that allows you to slowly build up to your desired shade without going too dark too soon.

More Than One Coat?:

Ever wondered if you could apply more than one coat of self-tanner for a deeper tan? Well, you absolutely can! For a deeper tan, a second coat of self-tanner can be applied once the first layer has completely dried. Just make sure to wait at least 30 minutes for optimal absorption and to minimize the risk of creating streaks.

Certain self-tanners are created with layering in mind. Their packaging will provide instructions on the time to wait between applications to get the best gradual tanning results. Remember, self-tanning is all about finding the perfect shade for you, so feel free to experiment until you find your perfect match!

Keeping the Glow Year Round:

Now that you’ve achieved that beautiful bronzed glow, how do you keep it year-round? Incorporate self-tanning sessions into a weekly beauty routine, reapplying every 5-6 days to maintain evenness and counteract natural fading.

For a convenient way to sustain a consistent tan without frequent full self-tanning sessions, use self-tanning drops mixed with your daily moisturizer. To enhance your tan’s duration without a full reapplication, adopt tan extenders enriched with a low level of DHA to gradually refresh your tan.

And remember, keeping your pale skin hydrated daily is key to prolonging your tan and preventing premature fading.

Overcoming Common Self-Tanning Challenges

If you’ve applied your self-tanner and something went awry, rest assured, you’re not alone! Even seasoned self-tanners can face challenges like streaks or uneven patches. But don’t worry, we’ve got some DIY remedies and useful tips for you.

For correcting streaks or uneven patches, a paste made with lemon juice and baking soda can do wonders. Apply it to the affected areas, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse it off.

If your tan is patchy, gently exfoliate with a specific mitt or a natural exfoliant like a brown sugar body scrub, being careful not to rub off the rest of the tan. You can also use sunless tan remover products to even out tan lines and prepare your skin for a new application.

Hair removal creams, like Veet, can be applied carefully to even out tan lines in areas where hair removal is also desired. Remember, self-tanning is a journey, and every journey has its bumps, but with the right guidance, you’ll be back on the road to a flawless tan in no time!

Nourishing Your Skin While You Tan

Self-tanning helps achieve that bronzed glow and provides a great opportunity to nourish your skin. Many self-tanning lotions contain moisturizing ingredients, making them beneficial for those seeking additional hydration along with a tan.

Natural hydrating properties are key in self-tanners. Some ingredients to look for include:

  • Organic cocoa butter
  • Chamomile extract
  • Raspberry seed oil
  • Vitamin E
  • Aloe vera
  • Coconut oil

These ingredients help moisturize the skin and maintain the longevity and evenness of a tan, preventing the skin from drying out.

Jergens Instant Sun’s formula includes glycerin and citric acid to moisturize the skin, ensuring nourishment during tanning. So, as you self-tan, you’re not just enhancing your skin’s glow, you’re also giving it the nourishment it needs!


In conclusion, self-tanning is a safe and effective way to achieve that sun-kissed glow without the risk of harmful UV exposure. From choosing the right self-tanner, understanding DHA levels, and applying it the right way, to maintaining your tan, we’ve covered it all. With our top self-tanner picks for 2024, and tips on how to customize and maintain your tan, you’re well on your way to achieving that perfect, radiant tan. So go ahead and glow like summer, no matter what the season!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest-rated self-tanner?

The Bali Body Self Tanning Mousse is the highest-rated self-tanner due to its smooth application, natural-looking tan, and non-blotchy fading. It also has a "color guard" to help you see the areas you've covered.

How long does self-tanner usually last?

Self-tanner usually lasts around 5-7 days because it clings to dead skin cells, and the skin naturally sheds. Keeping your skin hydrated can help prolong the tan.

What does Kim Kardashian use for self-tanner?

Kim Kardashian uses St. Tropez's Jumbo Self Tan Express Mousse, which is a lightweight, fast-absorbing tanning mousse that doesn't leave the skin feeling sticky after application.

Are self-tanners safe to use?

Yes, self-tanners are a safe alternative to sunbathing or tanning beds, providing a way to tan without the risks of sun damage and related skin issues.

How often should I apply self-tanner?

You should apply self-tanner every 5-6 days to maintain an even and natural-looking tan.

1 Comment(s)

Share Your Opinion, Please

Leyla Lutfi 04/17/2024
As someone with type 3 skin who struggles to get the perfect sun-kissed tan no matter what tanning oils I use, I've had a great experience with self-tanners. My skin suddenly turns grey or too dark with the slightest sun exposure. I have also been looking for ways to tan without sun exposure, given the fact that I live in an area where the sun doesn't visit more frequently. I had to experiment with several fake tan brands & after many trials and errors, I found the right match that won't make me look orange or burnt. I personally use Luxe Tan drops for my face and Bondi Sands LiquidGold Self-Tanning Foam for my body to maintain a consistent glow.  

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