Best Self-Tanners of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Tired of waiting for the sun? Explore our selection of the best self-tanners to achieve a gorgeous, sunless tan anytime, anywhere.

Author By Glozine Staff
Updated :Jan 4, 2024
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The best self-tanners on the market right now are your new go-to if you want a tan without the harmful effects of UV rays or a summer glow without sun damage. A lot of people have had the unfortunate experience of turning into an orange, streaky version of themselves, which shows that achieving a believable, glossy tan may require a bit of experimentation. The complexity arises largely due to the key ingredient in self-tanners, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a sugar that safely darkens the skin.

As any reputable dermatologist will inform you, limiting exposure to the sun’s UV rays is not merely about avoiding sunburn; it’s also crucial for preventing signs of photoaging like fine lines, crepey skin, and hyperpigmentation. Self-tanners present the ideal solution for those who still covet a bronzed, sun-kissed appearance.

“LA-based dermatological nurse and celebrity skincare expert, Natalie Aguilar, explains that using self-tanning products at home can help protect our skin. Sun and tanning beds can cause aging, burns, and even skin cancer. Self-tanning products, on the other hand, use a safe ingredient approved by the FDA named dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. This ingredient temporarily gives a tanned look to the top layers of your skin.”

Our testers thoroughly assessed various products to help you search for the best self-tanners. Several applications were used during the testing process, and various aspects were carefully considered, including shade range, drying and development times, and ease of use. The outcomes of our thorough testing procedure, along with professional advice, have enabled us to create our list of the best self-tanners.

Our Best Picks

01

St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse

01

Best Overall

St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse

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Product Name:

St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse

What We Like:

  • Express formula allows color results in as little as one hour.
  • Customizable tan levels depending on how long you keep it on your skin.
  • Provides even coverage and prevents streaking.
  • Deepens skin tone in just one use.
  • It lasts for several days, maintaining a beautiful golden tan.

Description/Review:The St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse is a favorite among users for its versatility and effectiveness. It allows users to customize the tan intensity by adjusting the developing time on the skin. With an express formula, it gives you a natural-looking tan in as little as an hour. It deepens the skin tone in just one use and maintains a golden tan for several days. The best part? It leaves behind no self-tan smell, instead boasting a mood-boosting fragrance. The application is easy and foolproof, thanks to the spray applicator and blending mitt.

Key Ingredients:

DHA, glycerin, aloe vera

Formula/Type of Product:

Mousse

02

Bondi Sands Technocolor 1 Hour Express Self Tanning Foam

02

Best for All Skin

Bondi Sands Technocolor 1 Hour Express Self Tanning Foam

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Product Name:

Bondi Sands Technocolor 1 Hour Express Self Tanning Foam

What We Like:

  • Offers a great range of shades, providing a customizable experience for each user.
  • Can easily be washed off after an hour.
  • Doesn’t transfer or drip while drying, ensuring a clean tanning process.

Description/Review: The Bondi Sands Technocolor 1 Hour Express Self Tanning Foam is a game-changer in the tanning products market. Tailored to align with different skin undertones, this innovative product provides a natural-looking tan, as noted by users. The Express formula allows the tan to develop within an hour, and it doesn’t transfer or drip during the drying process, making it a user-friendly product. It offers various tones that range from a cold, natural tone to a warm, golden accent. As per our testing, the product is a preferred option due to its effortless application and its capacity to produce a golden hue that lasts for around five days. It’s cruelty-free and vegan.

Key Ingredients:

The product uses the best tanning actives and colors that complement different skin tones. The type of product is a Foam. It is also cruelty-free, further enhancing its appeal.

The product contains Mica and Iron Oxides, which contribute to the shimmer effect.

Formula/Type of Product:

Foam

03

Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam

03

Best for Mature Skin

Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam

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Product Name:

Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam

What We Like:

  • It provides a long-lasting tan that fades naturally.
  • It contains firming and anti-aging ingredients.
  • It boasts a great scent.
  • The product comes with a mitt that makes application easy.
  • Notably, the product works to prevent signs of aging and cellulite.

Description/Review: Coco & Eve’s Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam delivers a deep, sun-kissed glow reminiscent of a tropical vacation, without the unwelcome orange undertones and a refreshing tropical Bali scent. Available in three shades- medium, dark, and ultra-dark, this fast-developing bronzing foam is enriched with antioxidants, offering various skin-related benefits. Users have reported a natural-looking color that lasts for four to five days, and a noticeable darkening after just two hours of application. The product does absorb quickly, so speedy application is advisable.

Key Ingredients:

100% natural DHA, glycerin, antioxidants, cocoa seed extract

Formula/Type of Product:

Mousse

04

Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Firming Body Drops

04

Best Drops

Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Firming Body Drops

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Product Name:

Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Firming Body Drops

What We Like:

  • Can be added to any body moisturizer for ease of application
  • Provides a subtle, non-streaky glow
  • Long-lasting tan
  • Quick absorption without leaving a sticky residue
  • No transfer noted; fades evenly
  • No unpleasant smell

Description/Review: Isle of Paradise’s Self-Tanning Firming Body Drops are highly rated for their user-friendly application and impressive results. These drops can be seamlessly integrated into your existing beauty routine—simply add them to your preferred body moisturizer and apply them as normal. The formula imparts a subtle, yet noticeable glow that lasts for a few days, offering a sun-kissed look without the risks associated with sun exposure. Users love its quick-absorbing, non-sticky formula which leaves no streaks or transfer on clothing. These points, along with its cruelty-free commitment, make it an appealing choice for all skin tones.

Key Ingredients:

Caffeine, Oat Extract, Avocado Oil

Formula/Type of Product:

Tanning Drops

05

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer

05

Best Drugstore

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer

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Product Name:

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer

What We Like:

  • It offers a natural, hydrating glow, making it one of the best in the market.
  • It works gradually, deepening your skin color over a few days.
  • The lotion is filled with glycerin and Vitamin E, providing extreme softness and hydration.
  • Designed for daily use

Description/Review: The Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer is a fantastic drugstore find that delivers premium results. It has been a mainstay in the self-tanner industry for a good reason. In just a few days, this creamy lotion will give your skin a convincing bronze tone while also providing hydration. You can replace your everyday body moisturizer with this for a subtle tan. It’s an excellent choice for self-tanning beginners and people with pale skin, as the color develops gradually over time.

Key Ingredients:

Vitamin E, Glycerin, Antioxidants

Formula/Type of Product:

Creamy Lotion

06

Loving Tan 2 HR Self Tanning Mousse

06

Long Lasting

Loving Tan 2 HR Self Tanning Mousse

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Product Name:

St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse

What We Like:

  • Quick application process
  • The tan fades evenly and naturally.
  • The mousse has a blendable consistency.
  • Dries quickly and is not sticky
  • The tan reveals a deep but natural-looking tan after two hours.

Description/Review: This Loving Tan 2 HR Self Tanning Mousse is an excellent choice for those seeking fast and impressive results. It offers a quick-drying formula, which can be washed off after two hours, revealing a deep, yet natural-looking tan that lasts approximately a week and a half. Available in three distinct shades, this product caters to various skin tones. However, one should note that the product can transfer before it’s completely dry, making it unsuitable for those in a hurry to get dressed.

Key Ingredients:

Naturally derived DHA, Hydrating Aloe Vera base.

Formula/Type of Product:

Mousse

07

Dolce Glow Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion

07

Best New Self-tanner

Dolce Glow Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion

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Product Name:

D’oro Self-Tanning Lotion

What We Like:

  • Easy application with a rapid development time
  • Lasts for days, giving a long-lasting glow
  • Delivers a deep bronzed look, perfect for all skin tones
  • Clean, Vegan, Cruelty Free, Paraben Free, Sulfate Free

Description/Review: Doro Tan Solution from Dolce Glow is a game-changer in the world of self-tanning. Its unique formula promises a deep, bronzed glow that develops in mere hours and lasts for about a week. The product glides onto the skin effortlessly, leaving a velvety feel upon application. The color payoff is incredibly natural and flattering, suitable for all skin types. The fact that it’s made from natural and organic ingredients is a major plus, promising a safe tanning experience without compromising on the quality or intensity of the tan.

Key Ingredients:

Dihydroxyacetone, Aloe Vera, Vitamin B5

Formula/Type of Product:

Lotion

How to Apply a Self-tanner

  • Preparation: Start by preparing your skin. This involves exfoliating and removing any existing fake tan to create a fresh canvas.
  • Exfoliate: Use an exfoliating body scrub or loofah to massage your skin from neck downwards in the shower. This process helps remove dead skin.
  • Moisturize: Apply a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer on key areas of the skin like knees, ankles, elbows, wrists, and any dry spots. This prevents the tanner from sticking undesirably to these areas.
  • Apply self-tanner: Use a tanning mitt to apply a generous amount of self-tanner. Insufficient self-tan can lead to a streaky appearance due to a lack of enough DHA.
  • Tanning technique: Apply the tanner in long strokes, working with one body area at a time.
  • Wait before showering: Allow the tan to develop by waiting for the recommended period on the tanner’s instructions before taking a shower.
  • Maintain the tan: Apply moisturizer frequently to prevent a patchy fading of your tan. Use moisturizing body lotion and SPF daily.

How We Tested

Our team has put considerable effort into creating this comprehensive list of best self-tanners. We have initiated a rigorous testing regime for self-tanners available in the market. Countless hours have been spent in extensive research, which includes evaluating key features of the products and thorough study of customer reviews. We consulted trusted professionals such as dermatologists and estheticians to gain a deeper understanding of these products.

A distinguishing aspect of our testing process is the hands-on experience we gain by using the products ourselves. We tested each product multiple times and noted our observations. Our evaluation criteria included ease of application, dry time, formula, skincare benefits, key ingredients, and how well they built up color and faded over time.

What to look for when buying a self-tanner

  • Shades: Choose a self-tanner that is recommended for your specific skin tone or one that comes with multiple shade options to ensure a natural-looking tan.
  • Undertones: Pay attention to the color base of the self-tanner. Certain base colors balance out different skin undertones, preventing an unnatural orange appearance.
  • Hydrating Formula: Look for self-tanners with hydrating ingredients that counteract the dehydrating effects of dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the active ingredient in self-tanners.
  • Development Time: Consider how long the self-tanner takes to develop. Express tans develop quickly, while gradual formulas take longer and may deliver a more natural result.
  • Key Ingredients: Ensure your self-tanner contains DHA, which is responsible for creating a sunless tan.
  • Formula: Self-tanners come in different forms like lotions, mousses, sprays etc. Choose a formula type that suits your experience level and application preference.
  • Scent: Many self-tanners contain additional fragrances to mask the smell of DHA. Consider your tolerance for such scents when choosing a self-tanner.
conclusion

Conclusion

In conclusion, self-tanners offer a safer, more convenient alternative to traditional tanning methods, providing a bronzed, sun-kissed look without the harmful effects of UV exposure. They have been tested and proven to deliver excellent results across different skin types and tones.

Whether you’re looking for the best overall self-tanner, an option suitable for mature skin, a product that fits seamlessly into your skincare routine, a budget-friendly drugstore choice, or a long-lasting tan, the market has a wide range of options to meet your needs. Importantly, using self-tanners not only enhances your appearance but also contributes to the overall health of your skin.
The use of self-tanners is, therefore, a win-win, aiding you in achieving your desired sun-kissed glow while maintaining your skin’s health and vitality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the best overall self-tanner according to your testing?

A. The St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse is our top pick due to its versatility, effectiveness, and the ability for users to customize their tan intensity.

Q. Which self-tanner is best for mature skin?

A. The Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam is our recommendation for mature skin. It delivers a natural-looking color and contains anti-aging ingredients that prevent signs of aging and cellulite.

Q. I have a strict skincare routine. Is there a self-tanner I can easily incorporate into it?

A. Yes, the Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Firming Body Drops can be added to your preferred body moisturizer for easy application.

Q. What is the best drugstore self-tanner?

A. The Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer is our top choice for a drugstore self-tanner. It offers a natural-looking tan and hydration to the skin.

Q. Which self-tanner provides the longest-lasting tan?

A. For a long-lasting tan, we recommend the Loving Tan 2 HR Self Tanning Mousse. It offers a natural-looking tan that lasts approximately a week and a half.

Q. Is there a new self-tanner that stands out in the market?

A. The Dolce Glow Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion is a game-changer. It delivers a deep bronzed glow that lasts for about a week.

Q. How do I properly apply self-tanner?

A.Start by preparing your skin through exfoliation and moisturizing. Apply a generous amount of self-tanner using a tanning mitt. Allow the tan to develop before showering, and maintain your tan with frequent moisturizing.

Q. What factors should I consider when buying a self-tanner?

A. Consider your specific skin tone, the hydration level of the formula, development time, key ingredients, the type of formula, and the scent. Make sure the self-tanner contains DHA, the active ingredient responsible for creating a sunless tan.

Q. Why should I use a self-tanner instead of traditional tanning methods?

A.Self-tanners are a safer alternative, offering a bronzed, sun-kissed look without the harmful effects of UV exposure. They contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a safe ingredient approved by the FDA that temporarily darkens the skin.

Sources

Glozine avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Glozine, you can read more about the editorial process here.

  1. Dihydroxyacetone: An Updated Insight into an Important Bioproduct - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5838383/
  2. Safety Assessment of Glycerin as Used in Cosmetics - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31840548/
  3. Chemical and Skincare Property Characterization of the Main Cocoa Byproducts: Extraction Optimization by RSM Approach for Development of Sustainable Ingredients - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8709444/
  4. Vitamin E in dermatology - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976416/