10 Best Self-Tanners for a Goof-Proof Glow
Forget everything you thought you knew about self-tanners. This new crop of instant bronzers delivers a flawless fake tan without the mess
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When you desperately need a vacationI would stock up on Xen-Tan Moroccan Tan, $35, based on the scent alone. This self-tanner delivers the perfect golden hue along with a tropical coconut scent that miraculously doesn't remind me of sunscreen. Though this product does dry quickly, it will stain your clothes if you happen to get the wet product on it. So don't throw on your clothes and rush out the door to show off your newly bronzed skin before the tanner has a chance to dry. (Guilty!)
For the budget-consciousA self-tanner habit can get expensive (especially in the warmer months that call for bare legs). Suave Visible Glow Gradual Tanner (a Total Beauty award winner), $6.97, is a drugstore option that's just as good as pricier versions. The gradual formula takes daily use for about a week to build up to a deep color, but does spare you the embarrassment of everyone wondering how you became insta-tan. And the scent? Nonexistent.
If you seek a long-term relationshipIf you have extra-dry skin like me, self-tanners that promise long-lasting results usually don't last as long. Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Lotion, $54, is the exception. The gel-like formula lasted a full week with zero reapplications before it began fading naturally. After discovering that I should apply the product three times, letting the color develop for three to 24 hours between applications, I was able to get up to two weeks of a just-came-back-from-vacation glow. A piece of advice: Ditch the tanning mitt and resolve to wash your hands multiple times. The gel consistency of the product soaks into the mitt, making it difficult to apply.
If you like to multitaskThe problem with having the bronzed skin of a devoted self-tanner is a face that one may label "alabaster" sans makeup. I'd like to say I don't have a separate set of makeup for when I'm faking a tan, but that would be a lie. Enter: Tarte Brazilliance Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Face and Body Self-Tanner, $39, which allows me to ditch that extra makeup. The formula, which contains vitamins E and A and plant derivatives, has no detectable smell (even when it's applied literally right under your nose).
For a thumbs-up from your dermDr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glotion for Body, $38, offers more than just glowing skin. The daily moisturizer contains lactic acid to improve cell turnover, glycolic acid for anti-aging and caffeine for firming. OK, I didn't notice any magical cellulite-disappearing results, but I enjoy the little exfoliating beads, and I like to think that over time I'm doing something good for my skin.
To get some beauty sleepJames Read Tan Sleep Mask Tan, $43, is a night cream and facial self-tanner in one, so you can really wake up with more radiant skin. The resulting morning tan is ever-so-subtle (not a hint of orange), and skin remains hydrated and smooth from hyaluronic acid and cooling aloe vera and cucumber.
If you can't bear to part with your moisturizerEven when I can find a self-tanner for my face that lacks the tell-tale scent, I usually layer on my daily moisturizer for fear that I'm missing skin-care benefits. But with Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster, $30, you can keep your sun-kissed color and your favorite products. Simply add a few drops of the bronze liquid to your usual day or night cream and you reap the benefits of both.
For thirsty skinI've never been unhappy with a St. Tropez self-tanning product, but St. Tropez Self Tan Luxe Dry Oil, $50, takes the cake. My skin drinks up the ultra-hydrating oil and stays silky-soft all day long. You can choose how subtle or dark you want your tan to be, thanks to the buildable, streak-free formula.
If you get ready in 30 minutes or lessThe last thing you want to do when you need to get out the door quickly is wait around for your self-tanner to dry. Compared to lotion formulas, L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Tinted Self Tanning Golden Mousse, $10.99, dries in seconds flat, and the whole line has a lightly lemon-y scent that doesn't overwhelm your perfume.
For orange-free palmsI hate tanning mitts -- always have -- so I suffer through orange palms and try not to gesture a lot when I talk. To avoid this situation, try a hands-off airbrush formula like the new Victoria's Secret Self-Tanning Tinted Spray, $15.
In case you mess up anywayThis new crop of self-tanners are some of the best on the market for avoiding a streak-y finish, but even pros can slip up and end up with zebra markings. The Bronze Buffer Self-Tan Remover, $10, is a little sponge that buffs away streaks and slip-ups easily. Wet the scrub and rub very gently on areas where color tends to build up, like on palms or the backs of your heels. Bonus: The reusable sponges also work wonders on removing deodorant marks from clothing in a pinch.