18 Products for the Perfect Self Tan

Amy Marturana

From prep, to application, to post-tan care, we’ve found the best products for getting that perfectly bronzed look—and keeping it looking fresh and natural even as it begins to fade.

1Prep Products

Using a body scrub will ensure skin’s a smooth, healthy canvas for optimum self-tanner results. An oil-free hydrator is key in keeping extra dry spots, like elbows and knees, from absorbing too much tanner and becoming over-pigmented.

Elemis Spa At Home Frangipani Monoi Salt Glow, $58
Buff your body with this luxurious frangipani-scented salt scrub. Its coconut oil base melts into skin to seal in moisture and nourish skin.

Kona Coffee Sugar Detox Whole Body Scrub, $28
A combination of sea salt and sugar sloughs off dead skin cells, while the caffeine from the kona coffee improves skin texture. It’s also loaded with vitamin-rich coconut oil to hydrate and replenish skin.

H2O Plus Oasis Body 24-Hour Hydrator, $25
This lightweight, oil-free moisturizer provides 24-hour hydration and replenishes dry and depleted skin with minerals and antioxidants. Perfect for those extra dry spots that need some love pre-tan.

2Tanning Mousses

Extremely fast drying, lightweight and transfer proof, mousse formulas are great for all skin types and super easy to apply.

L’Oréal Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-Tanning Golden Mousse, $11
Apply this lightweight, citrus-scented mousse for an instant tan that continues to develop and darken over time. It’s very buildable, and easy to maintain with weekly applications.

Vita Liberata Rapid Tan Mousse, $43
After just one hour, expect to have a light sunkissed glow; after three hours, you’ll have a dark tan. The formula is extra moisturizing, keeping skin hydrated for hours after application.

Paula’s Choice Sun 365 Self-Tanning Foam, $13
This self-tanning foam is quick drying, so you don’t have to worry about ruining your clothes or sheets, and the tinted formula helps you avoid missing any spots. In 1-3 hours, you’ll be beautifully bronzed, with some continual darkening a few hours after.

3Tanning Mists

A spray-on tan formula with a 360 spray bottle will help you get those hard-to-reach spots, like the middle of your back, and provides instant gratification that darkens over time.

Karora Tinted Self Tan Mist Light/Medium, $30
Get a natural golden bronze tint with this self-tan mist that provides an instant glow to help you achieve perfectly streak-free application. Aloe, acai berry, argan and coconut oils keeps skin healthy and nourished.

Fake Bake Airbrush Instant Self Tan, $30
Perfect for hard-to-reach areas, this continuous spray fine mist can be used at any angle, giving you full control of your tan and a flawless airbrush finish.

Norvell Venetian Sunless Mist, $40
Designed to mimic the sunkissed skintones of the Mediterranean region, this ultra fine mist contains a combo of violet and brown tones blended to achieve the perfect color.

 

4Bronzing Lotions

Super-hydrating and longest lasting of all the formulas, tanning lotions are great for building up to your desired shade and reaching the perfect color for your skintone.

Yon-Ka Paris Lait Auto-Bronzant Self-Tanning Milk, $50
Full of nourishing fruit extracts, shea butter, cereal germ oils, rice oil and vitamin E, this self-tanning milk hydrates and improves skin health while providing a subtle glow that takes about 4 hours to develop.

Sephora Collection Gradual Self-Tanning Body Lotion, $16
A true gradual tan lotion, this hydrating formula gives skin a golden glow that gradually darkens with each application. Apply until you get your desired color, and then use every few days to maintain.

St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Lotion, $44
If you want an even deeper, darker tan, this dark formula is ultra-absorbent and contains innovative melanin technology to ensure your color develops to flatter your skintone. It’s also packed with antioxidants and extra skin conditioners.

5Body Bronzers

If you’re allergic to DHA, the active ingredient in self-tanning products, or just aren’t ready for the commitment, you can get a bronzed glow with body makeup that washes off with soap and water.

Karora Instant Tan Wash Off, $25
This water-resistant body makeup provides flawless coverage loaded with skincare ingredients like grapeseed, horse chestnut extract, and sweet almond and macadamia oils.

Lorac Travel Size Tantalizer Body Bronzing Spray, $15
Now in a new travel size, this aerosol bronzer provides instant color, evens skintone and masks imperfections; plus, it’s water and transfer resistant and full of superstar ingredients like maracuga, camu camu, acai berry, pomegranate and vitamins A and E.

Laura Mercier Body Bronzing Makeup, $38
Apply this non-sticky, lightweight bronzing makeup for a healthy radiance and glow that washes off with soap and warm water.

6Post-Tan Care

Regular moisturizing and an everyday gradual tan will make your color last longer and keep fading even.

St. Tropez Tanning Essentials Everyday Gradual Tan for Body, $30
This body moisturizer with gradual tanner will keep skin healthy and hydrated while adding a gradual golden glow that will help you maintain your bottled tan for longer.

Nivea Smooth Sensation Body Lotion, $8
Shea butter and glycerin deeply hydrate the skin in a quickly absorbing formula that doesn’t leave any greasy residue.

James Read BB Gradual Face Tan Pen, $25
If despite your greatest efforts you end up with some splotchiness as your tan fades, this BB pen is perfect for filling in small areas and evening out your color. Plus, it’s super convenient so you can throw it in your bag and take it along for any self-tanning emergencies.

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