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13 Gradual Tan Products That Won't Turn You Orange

The key to a great fake tan is that it shouldn't look fake, which is why we prefer a good gradual tan product.
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A golden tan is always in for summer (especially when it's paired with a playful swimsuit) but roasting ourselves and leaving skin exposed to the sun's damaging rays is most definitely out. The negative effects of the sun are well documented, which is why we're always looking for sunless ways to get our tan on. Self-tanners are one way to achieve a golden glow without risking UV damage and sunburns, and they're more practical than liberally dusting bronzer from head to toe. But not all self-tanners are created equal: Instead of a bronzed goddess look, the wrong product can turn skin Oompa Loompa orange.

The key to a great fake tan is that it shouldn't look fake, which is why we prefer a good gradual tan product. Rather than trying to turn pale skin into a deep bronze in one application, gradual tanners subtly add color to skin that builds to a more natural-looking, streak-free glow over time. If the color is too light, you can keep reapplying until you achieve your desired level of bronze.

No matter which self-tanner you end up selecting, it's worth doing a patch test to get a sense of how the color will progress. Plus, it ensures skin won't have a negative reaction to the product.

Image via @tantowel

Ready to get glowing? Read on for 13 of the best gradual tan products to try this summer (or all year round).

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St. Tropez says this is the world's first one-minute, pre-shower tan mousse. Apply it to dry skin, wash it off in the shower and you'll have a soft caramel tan in eight hours. Even better, it doesn't streak or leave behind a chemical scent.

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"Gradual" is a key phrase to look for if you're after a self-tanner that imparts sun-kissed color. This one delivers results ASAP, making it a brilliant option for last-minute beach trips. The formula has a darkening complex for an immediate bronzed finish that continues to develop as time ticks on. It's a buildable formula and suitable for everyday use so skin will never look unnaturally dark or orange.

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This is the next best thing to having a professional create a bespoke spray tan because it puts the user in charge of the final tan color. It is lightly colored and gradually gets darker with each application, allowing users to stop when they've reached their desired level of gold. It also separates itself from other fake tanners with its fresh scent and the fact that it dries in five minutes.

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Some may want a rich, bronzed glow with one application. Others prefer a gradual golden tan they can build up with each use. This product falls into the second category. It's a unique oil and lotion hybrid that does more than just impart a soft golden glow. Vitamin E and aloe vera provide long-lasting hydration, while a Cellutone Complex reduces the appearance of cellulite and improves the texture of skin.

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