Best Self-Tanning Lotions

John Kopischke
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Yes, you can get a spray-on tan, but before you do, give these sunless tanning lotions a try first!

Lucky for us there are quite a few good self-tanning products to choose from. I think that first time users may get frustrated trying to figure out which one works best on their skin type, application style, and color time, so I highly recommend trying a few different products before you make a decision.

Listed below are the best self-tanning lotions, mists, and creams for a natural-looking tan.

NameCategoryProduct
Self TannerBest OverallSelf Tanner
Australian Gold Instant Sunless Tanning LotionBudget PickAustralian Gold Instant Sunless Tanning Lotion
Clarins Self-Tanning Milky LotionUpgrade PickClarins Self-Tanning Milky Lotion

1. Self Tanner

Our rating: 9 / 10

Self Tanner

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Pros:

  • Easily washes off
  • Reapplies evenly
  • Affordable
  • Has a scent that will fade over the course of a few days

2. Fake Bake Original Self-Tanning Lotion

Our rating: 8 / 10

Fake Bake Original Self-Tanning Lotion

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Pros:

  • Quality Results
  • Long-Lasting Color
  • Short drying time

I love this self-tanner because it provides natural looking color, and there’s no awful odor. Plus, it doesn’t streak.

The tan is a little orange when I apply it, but within an hour or so, the orange tones fade leaving me a nice golden brown.

The color has lasted over a week with very minimal fading.

3. Clarins Self-Tanning Milky Lotion

Our rating: 8 / 10

Clarins Self-Tanning Milky Lotion

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Pros:

  • Provides a natural-looking tan
  • Not too greasy
  • Doesn’t give the orange-ish tint

4. Jergens Natural Glow Sunless Tanning Lotion

Our rating: 8 / 10

Jergens Natural Glow Sunless Tanning Lotion

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Pros:

  • Getting an effortless, natural sun-kissed glow
  • Fast and convenient
  • No streaking, beading, or orange skin
  • Easy to maintain
  • Positive user reviews
  • Great quality
  • No overwhelming or foul odor
  • Skin friendly
  • Affordable
  • Hard to mess up

Cons:

  • No immediate results
  • Expensive
  • Effectiveness may be reduced with the drug/medications
  • The smell may be too strong for some users
  • Hard to get an even darker tan

This self tanner is formulated to fade gradually and naturally, keeping you looking sun-kissed and healthy all year round. But it also has the added benefit of wide spectrum SPF 30, so you can add a little color on sunny days without worrying about pesky UV rays.

5. Sunless tanning lotion by L'Oreal Paris

Our rating: 8 / 10

Sunless tanning lotion by L'Oreal Paris

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Pros:

  • Struggling with the first signs of aging or have been lacking melanin your whole life? Don’t fear! The best self-tanner will help you get that bronze look everyone is after without having to be in a tanning bed.
  • Problems with sunless tanning lotion:
  • Here are a few downsides to sunless tanning lotions:

Now that you know the downsides to tanning lotions, I’m sure you’ll want to know why to use sunless tanning lotions. They are much safer and healthier then tanning in a tanning bed. If you get burned, it stays with you for a while and that’s not good.

Tanning lotions come in many different shades. The darker your natural skin is, the darker the tanning lotion you’ll need to apply. The first time you use tanning lotion may be a learning curve to find the shade that works for you.

Always wash your hands with soap and water after applying tanning lotion.

6. Vita Liberata Fabulous Self Tanning Tinted Lotion

Our rating: 8 / 10

Vita Liberata Fabulous Self Tanning Tinted Lotion

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Pros:

  • Compact size
  • Doesn’t smell
  • Dries quickly
  • Lasts longer than a lot of other self-tanners

If you’re planning on beating the winter blues, then you might want to consider picking up the best self-tanning lotions out there for that golden tan you’ve always wanted.

One of my favorite self-tanners is this tinted lotion from Vita Liberata. Once I started using it, people often asked me if I had spent the weekend in Miami, rather than a short weekend in New York.

This self-tanner sprays on clear and dries quickly. It’s lasting power is phenomenal, and if you plan on using it more often, then this little size should last you a good while.

7. Tanceuticals Self Tanner

Our rating: 7 / 10

Tanceuticals Self Tanner

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Pros:

  • Fantastic smell
  • Feels healthy on your skin
  • Gives great color

Cons:

  • Can be streaky
  • Can be very sticky
  • Can be expensive

This self-tanner from Tanceuticals is a great addition to your beauty repertoire and is definitely one of the best self-tanners.

It smells fantastic and actually feels like it’s rejuvenating your skin. But does it work? You bet! This self-tanner will give you the darkest golden bronze possible, and that’s after just ONE application.

8. St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion Golden Glow

Our rating: 7 / 10

St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion Golden Glow

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Pros:

  • Easy to apply
  • Dries quickly and doesn’t feel sticky
  • Doesn’t wash off when you’re in the shower
  • Feels like a conditioner instead of a self-tanner

Cons:

  • Some people find the scent of coconut overpowering
  • Some people have had it transfer to towels

With over 90% of St. Tropez’s users reporting that they have an even, natural looking tan after their first shower, it’s no wonder many consider this the best self-tanner for normal to dry skin. The lotion glides onto your skin and works quickly to develop a natural looking tan. This gradual tanner has an exclusive color guide technology that helps you see where you’re applying it. This product can even be used by light-to-medium skin tones and is safe for use on legs, arms, and body.

9. Alba Botanica Sunless Tanner Lotion

Our rating: 7 / 10

Alba Botanica Sunless Tanner Lotion

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Pros:

  • Tropical scent
  • Made with Aloe Vera

Cons:

  • Can feel too greasy
  • Not suitable for face

This lotion is great for people with all skin types. It’s definitely a permanent tingle, but not a burn. Unless you stop before the recommended time of 6-8 hours, there’s little chance you’ll turn orange. The lotion is also non-comodegenic, so it won’t clog your pores and will make your skin soft and smooth.

The Alba Botanica tanner smells nice, but it’s not as potent as tanner with an odor. Use this for indoor tanning. I recommend using a tanning product that gives you the most realistically golden glow and have high SPF to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

10. Australian Gold Instant Sunless Tanning Lotion

Our rating: 7 / 10

Australian Gold Instant Sunless Tanning Lotion

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This lotion definitely delivers the perfect glow. The color is natural-looking without that flaky orange film most other tanners give you. It is also quick drying, so you don’t have to worry about bacteria and such in a wet tan.

I’m a big fan of self-tanning products but I don’t really like walking around with that orange-ish tint all day. That’s why I like that this lotion only tans for about a few hours. I’m not saying I look like I’ve been in the sun all day, but more like I have been out in the sun for a couple of hours.

A downside is that it can be a bit drying and sticky, so make sure to moisturize before and after you apply your tanner.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the best self tanning lotions?

What is the best self tanner on the market 2021?

RoS Ultra Dark Sunless Lotion. This tanning moisturizer is an amazingly dark, true shade of tan that develops with only one application. It also has a natural, fresh scent that’s just the right balance of sweet and spicy.

The tanner is messy to apply, including some drips on the carpets, but overall, the product works so well that it’s worth it. This is our top pick for the best self tanner of 2018.

What self tanner does Kim Kardashian use?

The Kardashian/Jenner family has always been quite loyal to their self-tanner of choice. They all swear by their favorite self-tanning brand, which is St. Tropez. Other than that, it’s pretty much every other brand out there! Here is my top picks for the best self tanners: self tanning lotion, lotion Sun Laboratories, lotion.

What are the best self tanners 2019?

Beware of the Quick-Fix: These are usually the worst self-tanners around. While they say they will give you a golden tan in the most short period possible, they are usually loaded with an acrylic based with which you will stain your sheets and pillows while your face is a splotchy mess from the burn. These remind me of the quick-fix tanning booths where you get hosed down with a weird spray and in five minutes, you’re supposed to be the darkest shade of brown.

Conclusion

Never use self-tanning lotions? Well, you’re not alone. Many beauty experts are now decrying the use of self-tanning lotions as possibly being linked to the increasing number of cancer cases.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Self TannerBest OverallSelf Tanner
Australian Gold Instant Sunless Tanning LotionBudget PickAustralian Gold Instant Sunless Tanning Lotion
Clarins Self-Tanning Milky LotionUpgrade PickClarins Self-Tanning Milky Lotion