Spring is just around the corner, and as we emerge from hibernation, so does our bare skin. Your legs and arms will finally be free of chunky jackets and sweaters and exposed for the world to see. But before you panic, just recall the miracle product that gives skin a sun-kissed glow, hides imperfections, and moisturizes, all without the risk of UV damage. That’s right, self-tanner is your springtime lifesaver.
Gone are the days of orange-hued at-home tans. The formulas available in 2022 look just like the real thing and feature benefits like SPF, Vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid. The secret ingredient to the sunless glow is all thanks to dihydroxyacetone or DHA. According to the Mayo Clinic, when you apply self-tanner, DHA works by reacting with dead skin cells on the surface of your body. Because DHA can cling to dry patches, it’s essential to exfoliate before application.
Are you a bronzed babe at heart or do you prefer to start your tan low and slow? Either way, there’s a self-tanner out there for you. We’ve compiled our 15 favorite sunless tanners, so you won’t need to be afraid to show some skin this spring.
The sheer variety of self-tanners that have become available over the last several years can be overwhelming. If this were ten years ago, we likely wouldn’t even need to make a list like this because there were only a few options to choose from for an at-home tan. However, there are now self-tanners available in every form you could dream of. So whether you like a mist, lotion, foam, liquid, or even a towelette, we’ve found a product in your preferred mode of application.
The products we chose also consider skin tone and whether there are light, medium, and dark shades available. With most self-tanners, you can build the color until you achieve the shade you desire, but there are also lightweight formulas guaranteed to work well for beginners. All of the products we chose are the top-reviewed in their category according to beauty forums, Amazon review boards, and editor’s “best-of” lists. You can rest assured any of the self-tanners you pick from our curated list are already vetted by the skincare and beauty communities.
Both beauty editors and at-home tan connoisseurs alike have raved about St. Tropez’s Classic Bronzing Mousse for years now. The lightweight mousse is applied with a mitt for a streak-free and natural-looking tan that lasts up to 10 days. If you’re a beginner, you can start with one application, and if you want a deeper shade, you can always reapply another layer. Considering the immense popularity of this sunless tanner, the ease of use, and the fact that the bottle seems to last forever, you truly can’t go wrong with this classic.
Purchase the St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse from Amazon starting at $18.
If you’re going to purchase a luxury beauty product, you’ll want to make sure a celeb loves it too. Julianne Hough told Byrdie she’s “obsessed” with the PRTTY PEAUSHUN Skin Tight Body Lotion, saying, “It’s perfect because it’s not too much color — you don’t feel like you’re caking on a big-time self-tanner.” Hough’s red carpet go-to leaves skin feeling super glowy and fresh, then washes off in the shower.
Purchase the PRTTY PEAUSHUN Skin Tight Body Lotion from the brand’s site starting at $48.
The astounding amount of 5-star reviews on Amazon (over 23,000!) plus the fact that Kylie Jenner is a fan make the Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam a no-brainer. Reviewers say that their tan lasts for over a week, that they love the coconut scent, and that the finish is never orange and always natural. The formula comes in light/medium, dark, and ultra-dark, so there’s a shade for however glowy you want to go.
Purchase the Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam from Amazon starting at $19.20.
If you’re looking for a go-to drugstore self-tanner, L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse is certainly your best option. Reviewers say the formula is super easy to apply, smells great, and looks just as good as a professional spray tan — all for under $15. There are dozens of products in the Sublime Bronze range, so if you prefer another method of application, you could give those a try as well.
Purchase the L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Water Mousse from Amazon starting at $11.97.
The Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops have made quite the splash across Instagram. Beauty and skincare influencers are smitten with these innovative water drops that you can add to your moisturizer, giving you control over how dark you want to go. Hot tip: The gurus say that you can apply a few drops to your face lotion for a natural-looking glow that replaces the need for foundation.
Purchase the Isle of Paradise Medium Self Tanning Drops from Sephora starting at $29.
Vita Liberata’s Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion is packed with natural moisturizing ingredients like marula oil, sea butter, and Vitamin E. The hydrating formula won over the editors at Allure and garnered the Best Gradual Self Tanner title in the magazine’s Best of Beauty 2020 Awards. You’ll also fall for the clean and cruelty-free ingredients you can use on both the body and face.
Purchase the Vita Liberata Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion from Amazon starting at $19.99.
Jergens Natural Glow Sunless Tanning Lotion is the real OG of self-tanners. Pretty much everyone had a bottle of this stuff on their vanity in the 2000s, and people still can’t get enough of this gradual self-tanning lotion. Many reviewers claim that it’s an effortless way to stay bronzed — you can even apply right before bed without any color transfer. With the unbeatable price point of under $10 and the icon status, this product is a definite must-have.
Purchase the Jergens Natural Glow Sunless Tanning Lotion from Amazon starting at $7.39.
To get the best at-home tan results while avoiding pesky breakouts and irritation, you’ll need to use a formula made specifically for your face. In comes TAN-LUXE The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops. This product is both a nourishing face oil and self-tanner in one, which works wonders with most existing skincare routines. You can tailor your bronze by using anywhere from 2–12 drops per application to go from radiant to a deep tan.
Purchase the TAN-LUXE The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops from the brand’s site starting at $49.
Let your fake tan develop while you safely lay by the pool with the Supergoop Healthy Glow Sunless Tan with SPF 40. Simply apply to both your body and face, let dry, then wait 2–4 hours for the color to develop. Wait at least an hour to swim, and after that, the SPF maintains water resistance for 80 minutes. Reviewers love the smell and the fact that they can skip the rinsing step that’s necessary with many other self-tanners.
Purchase the Healthy Glow Sunless Tan SPF 40 from the Supergoop website starting at $38.
Coco & Eve’s Bali Bronzing Foam, the world’s first 100% natural DHA self-tan formula, is cruelty-free, vegan, and free from sulfates, phthalates, and parabens. The lightweight mousse is packed with skin-loving ingredients like raw virgin coconuts, botanicals, natural antioxidants, and amino acids to hydrate and improve signs of aging. This product has also topped beauty editors’ “best smelling self-tanner” lists with its scents of fruity mango and guava.
Purchase the Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Self Tanner Mousse from Amazon starting at $34.
Coola is the green beauty brand that pioneered the concept of marrying sunscreen with skincare. The company now has a range of products that do the same thing but with self-tanners — basically a skincare lover’s dream. The Coola Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum uses a beet-derived DHA for a gradually built glow and has innovative Plant Stem Cell Cultures to help reduce signs of premature aging.
Purchase the Coola Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum from their website starting at $54.
Whether you need a travel-friendly self-tanner for your next vacation or you just like cute individually wrapped beauty products, The Tan Towel Self-Tan Towelettes are the perfect pick. This product reaches the top of “best of” lists over and over for its easy-to-use design and beautifully natural-looking color. Reviewers love that the formula goes on clear and that there’s no mess, but don’t forget that still means you must wash your hands to avoid dark palms.
Purchase the Tan Towel Self-Tan Towelettes from their website starting at $29.
We all love a good multi-use product. After all, it’s like getting two beauty products for the price of one. We love that you can apply the Sun Laboratories Ultra Dark Self-Tanning Lotion to both your face and body, giving you a hydrated glow from head to toe lasting 5–7 days. Reviewers love the all-natural formula and the instant tint that fully develops in three hours. This way, you can show off your glow right away.
Purchase the Sun Laboratories Ultra Dark Self-Tanning Lotion from Amazon starting at $19.19.
If misting is your preferred self-tanning method, then you’ll love the James Read Coconut Water Tan Mist. The best thing about a mist is that it dries almost instantly, so you can spritz it on before getting dressed and go about your day while the full color develops over the next few hours. The base of this formula is coconut water, which is natural, hydrating, and smells delish.
Purchase the James Read Coconut Water Tan Mist Body from eskinstore starting at $27.
Water-based formulas are trending in the self-tanning world because of their ease of use and quick dry. The St Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Mousse is great for beginners because each application is subtle, allowing you to build your tan low and slow. And compared with the St. Tropez Classic Mousse, you won’t need to worry about rinsing off. An editor at Byrdie said her skin “looked more even and vibrant,” and sometimes that’s all some of us want out of a self-tanner.
Purchase the St Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Mousse from Amazon starting at $42. With one of these products in your arsenal, you’ll be ready to take on spring in no time.