Warm weather is here and who doesn’t love the beautiful glow of sun-kissed skin?! Letting yourself bake in the sun or a tanning bed is no longer an option, though, if you want to keep your skin safe and looking its best. And for many of us, we like to have a little color before we head to the beach. So why not ditch the damaging UV rays and get that beautiful glow safely, with the help of a self-tanner? In this article, we’ll provide tips for effective application and give you the rundown on the best self tanning products available on Amazon that’ll have you rocking a fabulous, sunny glow all summer long!
If the thought of using self-tanner conjures up images of Oompa Loompas, you’re not alone. However, self-tanners have come a long way in the past few years thanks to advances in the formulas that now address issues like streaking, orange cast, and undesirable scents. Self-tanner is available in a wide array of lotions, mousses, gels, drops, wipes, and mists. We’ll break down their benefits below.
As we mentioned earlier, self-tanner is available in many forms- lotion, mousse, sprays, drops, and wipes. Below we discuss the benefits of each, providing you the info you need to decide between self tanning mousse vs lotion, etc.
Lotions are the OG of the self-tanning world. They’re typically used just like your daily body moisturizer but they contain small amounts of DHA to give you that sun-kissed look. Lotions are great for when you want to gradually build a tan or when you want to maintain a dark tan from mousse or spray.
Mousses and tanning foams are clear solutions that offer a wide array of shades. These light and airy foam formulas typically result in the deepest tans available when it comes to self-tanner.
Self-tanning sprays typically come in an aerosol can and are a great option for tanning small areas, like the face and neck. While they can be used over the entire body, it takes a lot of product and blending to ensure even application.
Drops are perhaps the most customizable option of all the self-tanners. They are generally a clear liquid containing DHA that can be added to your daily face and body moisturizer. The tan develops within a few hours. The more drops you use, the deeper the tan.
Self-tanning wipes are perhaps the most convenient and mess-free tanning option. They’re perfect for on-the-go since they’re individually wrapped and contain the perfect amount of color in each wipe. They’re also a more affordable option when compared with other self-tanning options. To use, simply open the wipe and smooth the towelette over your entire body, or wherever you want to apply color. You’ll still need to wash hands after using a wipe to apply self-toner but wipes are a perfect self tanning mitt alternative.
How To Apply Self-Tanner
The following tips will help you to apply self-tanner with even, long-lasting results.
- Exfoliate. Use an exfoliating product to remove dead skin cells before applying self-tanner. Be sure to focus on areas that absorb self-tanner faster than others- elbows, knees, and ankles.
- Dry skin completely, waiting 10 minutes after toweling off and before applying self-tanner.
- Moisturize your face and body. It’ll help self-tanner go on more evenly. We suggest Hempz Fresh Coconut And Watermelon Moisturizing Skin Lotion for the best moisturizer to use before self-tanning. It has the perfect summery scent to compliment your self-tan glow. And applying lotion over self-tanner can help to dilute it, especially in areas that absorb self-tanner more quickly, like elbows, knees, and ankles.
- Apply self-tanner in sections. Starting with the face because it’s the easiest to reach and apply with bare hands. Wash hands immediately so that they don’t stain. Make sure you’ve applied tanner everywhere on your face and neck, including behind the ears (for when hair is tied back). If you’re nervous about applying tanner to your entire face and wondering, “Can you mix self-tanning lotion with regular lotion? Or “Can you use self-tanning lotion on your face?” The answer to both of these questions is yes, you can. There are formulas out there with the same active ingredient, DHA, as traditional tanners but can be added to your face lotion to customize your desired hue. No products found. is one to try.
Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster
No products found.
No products found.
No products found.
With tanning mitt, apply liberally to your legs, blending excess into feet, your bottom, torso, arms, underarms, neck, etc. Don’t forget to flip your mitt over and apply tanner to the back of your neck, shoulders, and sides of the torso. Use excess tanner to blend from the wrist down to the hands, in- between your fingers, and the sides of the hands. Wash hands thoroughly in between each section to avoid orange-colored palms.
How to get Self Tanning Lotion off Your Hands
There’s good news for those who’ve tried washing with soap and water to no avail and are wondering how to get self-tanning lotion off your hands. You can try covering your hands in baby oil, leave it on for a few minutes, and rinse off in water with a loofah. Or, you can mix a tablespoon or two of baking soda with a little lemon juice and apply to your skin, rinsing it off in warm water. Both methods are effective, according to self-tanning experts.
Related: How to remove spray tan
What to wear after self tanning
- After the self tanner is applied, allow your skin to dry. You should wait at least 10 minutes after applying self-tanner before putting clothes on. Wear loose fitting clothing for a few hours and try to avoid sweating if possible.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen. You’ll still need to apply sunscreen every day while wearing self-tanner.
Can you use Self Tanning Lotion while Pregnant?
We recommend first and foremost that you discuss this with your doctor and make the decision with your physician.
One point of view is that self tanners are relatively new, and there aren’t a lot of long term studies on them. So, you and your doctor may decide to that it is better to not take the risk.
Another point of view is that self tanners are safe because dihydroxyacetone – DHA – the active ingredient in self tanners does not penetrate the skin and therefore won’t impact your developing baby.
A note of caution however, is that the pregnancy hormones in your body may cause the self tanner to react differently with your skin than it does when you are not pregnant. So a patch test is always recommended.
Bondi Sands advertises that their foam discussed below is a safe self tanning lotion to use when pregnant. Again, if you are expecting, discuss self tanning with your gynecologist, family doctor, or general practitioner before making any decisions.
Does Self Tanning Lotion Expire?
There may or may not be an expiration date on your self tanning lotion, but it does have a shelf life. If the lotion is stored in cool location and has never been opened, then it is good for about one year.
Once the container is opened, and the contents are exposed to oxygen and moisture in the atmosphere, the lotion begins to degrade. Over time and with exposure to oxygen and heat, the DHA and other chemicals in self tanning lotion will break down and dry out.
When the lotion is old, it will not work as effectively, and may create an uneven or less noticeable tan. Mousse, which remains sealed in a container until it is used, ought not to degrade as quickly as lotions or wipes. If your self tanning lotion looks or smells odd, it is time to replace it.
Further Reading: Does Tanning Oil Work?
Self Tanning Products
Are you ready to have beautiful looking skin? Below are some of our favorite self tanning products:
St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse
If you’re new to self tanner, this iconic brand is a must-try. This foolproof, quick-drying foam formula is lightweight, easy to apply, doesn’t streak, is infused with Jojoba, providing hydration for 24 hours, and adapts to your skin tone for up to 10 days of wear.
St. Tropez uses a 100% natural, plant-based form of DHA to achieve a medium golden tan. This formula is also free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. We love that it’s clean and vegan.
To use, exfoliate and moisturize skin. Pump product onto tan mitt and apply using circular motions, covering desired area of skin and ensuring no missed patches. Rinse in shower after 4-8 hours.
With over 1500 five-star reviews on Amazon, many claiming this self-tanner is the best on the market, we feel this self-tan bronzing mousse deserves a spot on the list of best self-tanners.
COOLA Organic Sunless Tanner Serum
This organic tanning serum is formulated specifically for the face, including anti-aging properties and vitamins, to protect the skin. It’s a great option for those who are looking for a subtle, healthy and radiant glow, as opposed to a deep tan. COOLA’s tanner serum is streak-free and transfer-resistant.
The active ingredients that help to nourish skin and protect it from the signs of aging include hyaluronic acid, argan oil, centella asiatica meristem cell, and chorella vulgaris extract.
Argan oil and hyaluronic acid nourish skin by improving its hydration. Hyaluronic acid also minimizes free radical damage and provides antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients that are vital for healthy skin.
Centella asiatica meristem cell is a plant stem cell culture from the Gotu Kolas plant that helps to smooth skin and reduce signs of aging.
Chorella vulgaris extract is also known as algae. It’s used for hydrating and detoxifying the skin. It also replenishes vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy skin.
We love that the active tanning ingredient, DHA (dihydroxyacetone), is sourced from sugar beets and not synthetic chemicals.
To use this serum, simply tie hair back; wash face and neck with cleanser; gently pat face and neck dry; apply 3 pumps of the serum to your fingertips or a tanning mitt and apply with circular motions all over face, neck, behind the ears, and back of the neck. Blend the tanner into your hairline and wipe away any excess above the lip, on the eyelids or brow area. Wash your hands thoroughly and wait 2-3 hours before applying makeup.
COOLA’s sunless tanner serum is 70%+ organic, vegan, cruelty-free, non-GMO, paraben-free, and gluten-free. We love that they offer clean beauty products that create healthy lifestyle experiences. The biggest drawback for many is the price tag on this serum. However, a little goes a long way and adding a couple drops to your face moisturizer can make it last even longer.
Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam
This self-tanning foam by Bondi Sands is a salon-quality lightweight foam enriched with aloe and coconut, for those looking for the ultimate natural, deep tan. Bondi’s self-tanning foam is easy to apply and won’t streak. We love that it smells like coconut, not a self-tanner.
Apply to clean, exfoliated skin. Do not moisturize prior to applying this self-tanning foam. Apply foam to an application mitt and use long, sweeping motions to cover arms, legs, and body. Use remaining foam residue on mitt to apply to your face, elbows, and knees. You can wash skin after 1 hour but for a longer-lasting dark tan, leave foam on your skin for up to 6 hours. For deeper tans, reapply the foam 30 minutes after initial application.
Don’t just take our word for it, though. This awesome self-tanning foam has over 1500 five-star reviews on Amazon raving about the fast, even, beautiful results people are seeing with this stuff!
Isle of Paradise Hydrating Tan Water
This vegan self-tan water is the perfect option for those with pale skin who prefer a lighter, natural glow. Not only does it contain coconut, chia seed, and avocado oils for hydration, it contains green color-correcting actives that cancel out unwanted red tones and leaving behind a perfect golden tan. This tanning water has a delightful refreshing scent, as it’s fragranced with cucumber and eucalyptus.
To use self-tan water, exfoliate 24 hours before application; moisturize dry areas (especially knees, ankles, & elbows), spray skin and blend with a tanning mitt in sweeping motions; wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
This tan water compliments all skin tones and can even be used to set your makeup. We love that it’s vegan and made with natural ingredients. And Amazon reviewers sing its praises for ease of use, lack of streaking, and most natural-looking self-tan.
Vita Liberata Advanced Organics Fabulous Self-Tanning Gradual Lotion
Vita Liberata’s 100% natural, self-tanning lotion is formulated with aloe vera and shea butter, creating a luxuriously hydrating lotion that goes on clear and develops into a beautiful, natural-looking glow that can be intensified with daily use. This lotion is free of alcohol, parabens, perfumes, and other toxins, making it gentle enough for sensitive skin. We love that this formula is made with certified organic botanicals like lychee, licorice, and raspberry, which nourish the skin. And their Odor Remove technology banishes that notorious self-tanner smell!
To use this gradual self-tanning lotion, avoid using moisturizers or moisturizing shower creams 24 hours prior to application. Exfoliate skin and apply lotion with a tanning mitt.
This awesome tanning lotion has earned over 300 five-star reviews on Amazon, many claiming this lotion is the best tanner on the market! Users love that it’s so hydrating, there’s no self-tanner smell, and that this formula won’t stain your clothes or sheets. It’s because of these reasons that we feel this gradual tanning lotion deserves a spot on this list of best self-tanners.
Tan Towel Self Tan Towelette
Tan Towel is the OG of self-tan towelettes, revolutionizing the way people self-tan. These high-quality fiber towelettes come premeasured with clear tanning solution for the perfect wipe-and-go, sun-kissed look every time. This formula works with the proteins and amino acids in your skin to create a natural-looking tan within a few hours. The best part is the easy, streak-and-mess-free application that exfoliates, moisturizes, and tans in one step!
To use, simply unfold the towelette and apply it to dry, clean skin using a circular motion over desired areas. Wash your hands after handling self-tan towelettes.
Again, wipes are a great self tanning mitt alternative. They’re less messy than using a mousse or lotion and mitt. And they’re super convenient, too. These wonderful little self-tan towelettes have earned almost 600 five-star reviews on Amazon! Most claim that they are the easiest way to self-tan and the results are flawlessly natural. This is why they’re on our list of self-tanners to try!
If you’re looking for a way to get a beautiful summer glow without sacrificing your skin’s health, self-tanning is the way to go. With so many application options and better-for-you formulas, it’s easy to see why so many are flocking towards this trend.
We hope the information and products contained in this post will help you decide if self-tanning is the right option for you and help save you from playing roulette with a thousand different formulas. We feel confident that any of these amazing products will have your friends wondering where you got that rockin’ tan!
Last update on 2023-04-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API