GET FREE SAMPLES

sign up for our newsletter to get free sample alerts
Photo 1/12
The last thing you want to hear in your head after slathering on a self-tanner is that Oompa-Loompa song. We've all been duped by too-orange self-tanners, no? Nothing's worse than trying to do the right thing by avoiding the sun and arduously applying a tanning lotion, cream, foam, gel or spray to your body, only to wind up with dark elbows and streaky legs.

There has to be some sunless tanning winners out there, because bronze-y stars constantly grace the red carpet (and you know most of them wouldn't risk wrinkles by baking in the sun to get that glow.) But how do you know which of the best self-tanners is going to yield the most natural-looking results?

Our readers tried and tested a ton of self-tanner skin care products for your sunless tanning pleasure. Since tanning creams have gotten a bad rap for often being hot streaky messes, it's super helpful to know that real women tried out these particular products and rave about them. You can read the enthusiastic reviews from everyone, from our freckly, pale-skinned friends who can't (and shouldn't) sunbathe but miraculously found faux glow bliss, to gals who praise the magic of self-tanning power to cover up the tan lines that are ruining their strapless dress game. And of course, regardless of how amazing a sunless tanner formula might be, the secret to making it look real is in the application. Here, a few tips on how to expertly apply self-tanner:

-Exfoliate and shave before you let self-tanner anywhere near your body. Use a mild exfoliant to make sure you're sloughing off your dead skin cells before the self-tanner goes on.

-Stand between two mirrors to apply the self-tanner, so you can see exactly what you're doing.

-Be extra mindful of the knees, hands, elbows, feet, ankles and face. These are the areas where self-tanning mistakes show up most. Use a minimal amount of tanning lotion in these areas, and consider wearing latex gloves or a tanning mitt to apply it.

-Once you've applied your self-tanner, keeping your skin hydrated is the key to making it last. Apply lotion daily.

Image via @thebodyshop

Photo 2/12
Best Self-tanner No. 11: Kiehl's Sun Free Self-tanning Formula, $22.50
TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 8.0*
Why it's great: "The first thing that impressed me so much about this product is that it really does not have a tanner smell," raves one reviewer. Other reviewers report that this self-tanner is "not greasy or smelly," "works in about an hour" and "looks very natural."

Agree? Disagree? Write your review for Kiehl's Sun Free Self-tanning Formula here.

Buy Now on Amazon

*At time of publication

Photo 3/12
Best Self-tanner No. 10: Clinique Self Sun Body Tinted Lotion, $23
TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 8.3*
Why it's great: According to readers, this self-tanner not only gives you a "beautiful glow," but it also "moisturizes your skin all day, gives you a nice shimmer and smells good." Users also say their golden tan lasts for about four to five days, and "never gets streaky."

"I have a very real and natural looking tan after just one application," raves one reader. "I get compliments on my tan, and this is the first time I have ever had that. This one is a keeper."

Agree? Disagree? Write your review for Clinique Self Sun Body Tinted Lotion here.

Buy Now on Amazon

*At time of publication

Photo 4/12
Best Self-tanner No. 9: Sally Beauty Salon Bronze Airbrush Tanning System, $12.99
TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 8.3*
Why it's great: Reader say they love Sally's airbrush tanning system because of its even and easy application, as well as the natural color it provides. "It's about the only one I trust not to turn me orange," says one reviewer. Another user agrees, adding, "this honestly beats spray tans from even the best salons." Reviewers say this tanner "dries super fast" and the color doesn't run. "I would recommend this product to everyone," says one pleased reviewer. "There's no streaking [or] bad smell, and it's easy to use."

Agree? Disagree? Write your review for Sally Beauty Salon Bronze Airbrush Tanning System here.

Buy Now on Amazon

*At time of publication

Photo 5/12
Best Self-tanner No. 8: Clarins Self-tanning Instant Gel, $37
TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 8.3*
Why it's great: Reviewers with pale skin report that this is the only self-tanner they've tried that "does not leave [them] orange." They love that it is colorless when you apply it and that it "feels like a lotion." After a few hours, it "produce[s] a natural, glowing tan."

Agree? Disagree? Write your review for Clarins Self-tanning Instant Gel here.

Buy Now on Amazon

*At time of publication

The last thing you want to hear in your head after slathering on a self-tanner is that Oompa-Loompa song. We've all been duped by too-orange self-tanners, no? Nothing's worse than trying to do the right thing by avoiding the sun and arduously applying a tanning lotion, cream, foam, gel or spray to your body, only to wind up with dark elbows and streaky legs.

There has to be some sunless tanning winners out there, because bronze-y stars constantly grace the red carpet (and you know most of them wouldn't risk wrinkles by baking in the sun to get that glow.) But how do you know which of the best self-tanners is going to yield the most natural-looking results?

Our readers tried and tested a ton of self-tanner skin care products for your sunless tanning pleasure. Since tanning creams have gotten a bad rap for often being hot streaky messes, it's super helpful to know that real women tried out these particular products and rave about them. You can read the enthusiastic reviews from everyone, from our freckly, pale-skinned friends who can't (and shouldn't) sunbathe but miraculously found faux glow bliss, to gals who praise the magic of self-tanning power to cover up the tan lines that are ruining their strapless dress game. And of course, regardless of how amazing a sunless tanner formula might be, the secret to making it look real is in the application. Here, a few tips on how to expertly apply self-tanner:

-Exfoliate and shave before you let self-tanner anywhere near your body. Use a mild exfoliant to make sure you're sloughing off your dead skin cells before the self-tanner goes on.

-Stand between two mirrors to apply the self-tanner, so you can see exactly what you're doing.

-Be extra mindful of the knees, hands, elbows, feet, ankles and face. These are the areas where self-tanning mistakes show up most. Use a minimal amount of tanning lotion in these areas, and consider wearing latex gloves or a tanning mitt to apply it.

-Once you've applied your self-tanner, keeping your skin hydrated is the key to making it last. Apply lotion daily.

Image via @thebodyshop
BY CLAIRE BALLOR, ALLIE FLINN | SHARES
VIEW COMMENTS
Full Site | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy
© 2022 Total Beauty Media, Inc. All rights reserved.