Skincare Products » Best Self-Tanners

Best 7 Self Tanners for a Sun-Kissed Glow All Year Round

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Self tanners are essential products for anyone that wants a perfect glow year-round without the risk of sun damage. The top options for at-home self tanners smell delightful, last long, and won’t dye your hands an unflattering shade of orange

If you’re ready to give your skin a healthy glow, the following products have earned high praise for their quality and ease of use. Use them, and your skin will look better and more bronzed than ever without the risk of sunburn.

Best self tanners overview:

How we chose the best self tanners for a sun-kissed glow

To compile this list, we researched manufacturer specifications, including scent, longevity, type, and more, to create a short list of the top self tanners. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best self tanners for each category.

Our picks for the best self tanners

Best overall
St. Tropez Self Tan Luxe Whipped Crème Mousse

What we love

  • Dries in seconds
  • 24 hours of hydration
  • Subtle fragrance

What we don’t love

  • Expensive
  • Requires exfoliation immediately before for best results, which prolongs the application process
  • Mitt is sold separately

The St. Tropez Luxe Whipped Crème Mousse is top of the line, and priced accordingly. However, the high cost (including a separate mitt purchase) is worth it, as your tan can last for over a week. 

For best results, the company recommends that you apply a second coat 24 hours after your first application. On the downside, if you end up applying too much, it won’t shower off or fade quickly — so think carefully about how tan you want to be for that job interview in four days.

The scent isn’t overwhelming, and the lightweight mousse is easy to control during application. All in all, St. Tropez delivers an effective self tanner that looks great on a variety of skin tones.

Type: Mousse | Main ingredients: DHA, Caprylic/capric triglyceride, C12-15 Alkyl benzoate, Caramel | Scent: Sweet |Tan longevity: Over a week

Best self tanning wipes
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad For Body Intense Glow

What we love

  • Exfoliates during application
  • Super easy to apply without streaks
  • Includes active vitamin D

What we don’t love

  • Each box only comes with 8 wipes
  • Requires application every couple of days to maintain tan

This is the best wipe option we found thanks to positive, even results, the lack of strong scent, and the exfoliation component these pads provide thanks to alpha beta acids. However, you’ll need to reapply more often using these wipes than if you applied a mousse or lotion. 

But if you just want a quick tan for a wedding you’re attending this weekend, this product may be the perfect fit. A box of eight wipes isn’t cheap, but the pads promise an even glow and are easy to pack in your carry-on bag.

Type: Wipe/pad | Main ingredients: Alpha beta acids, encapsulated DHA, capislow | Scent: Light citrus scent |Tan longevity: 2 to 3 days

Best self tanner on a budget
L’Oreal Paris Self Tanning Water Mousse

What we love

  • Doesn’t transfer or streak
  • Affordable
  • Includes vitamin E

What we don’t love

  • May take 8 hours to fully develop
  • Recommended application is 3 times over 12-24 hours
  • Could stain hands if you’re not careful

Offering a noticeable tan for well under $20, this is the perfect option for shoppers on a budget. The L’Oreal Paris Self Tanning Water Mousse consistently gets good customer reviews, featuring a tropical and fruity coconut scent that’s reminiscent of summer beach days.

However, you do have to apply it a few times the first day and wait about eight hours for each coat to fully develop. That being said, once you know how much to apply, you can create a reliable routine. Be sure to wash your hands after each application, as this product may stain.

Type: Water Mousse | Main ingredients: Vitamin E, glycerin, caramel, cocos nucifera fruit juice, coconut fruit juice, DHA | Scent: Fruity coconut |Tan longevity: Up to one week with multiple applications the first day

Best self tanner for beginners
Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer

What we love

  • Works gradually for a more natural look
  • Moisturizes while it tans your skin
  • Easy to apply

What we don’t love

  • Strong scent
  • May need to apply multiple times per day
  • Might be too subtle for some people

This has long been the go-to self tanning product for beginners for a few reasons. It’s affordable, the application is as simple as your other body moisturizers and creams, and you can use it on both your body and face. Plus, the gradual results mean mistakes aren’t quite as obvious, especially on your first application. 

Expect to see results over the first few days, and the product will continue tanning your skin slightly darker each day, helping maintain your bronzed glow with daily use. We also appreciate that the lotion comes in two shades: Fair to Medium and Medium to Tan. The downside is that this formula smells strongly of self-tanner, so it can take some adjustment.

Type: Lotion | Main ingredients: Vitamin E, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, DHA | Scent: Strong |Tan longevity: Short-lived

Best facial self tanner
Coola Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum

What we love

  • Works on combination, dry, and oily skin
  • Pleasant piña colada scent
  • Uses mostly natural ingredients

What we don’t love

  • Only lasts up to 3 days
  • Expensive price tag
  • Requires daily use to maintain tan

This sunless tan recipe is also an incredible skincare product. The serum is loaded with anti-aging and hydrating ingredients like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, and it doesn’t have that icky self-tanner scent. 

You can blend it with your moisturizer for a gradual tan or apply it directly to the skin for a more dramatic result. If you don’t like the smell of piña colada on your face, you may need to cut the serum with moisturizer to tolerate the scent, but otherwise, it’s an optimal choice for most people.

Type: Serum | Main ingredients: Propanediol, DHA, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Centella Asiatica Meristem Cell Culture | Scent: Mild piña colada |Tan longevity: Up to 3 days

Best self tanner for light skin
Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse

What we love

  • Odorless
  • Long-lasting results
  • Offers an even tan

What we don’t love

  • Expensive
  • Best results require 3 applications over 24 hours
  • Application mistakes will linger

This mousse is one of the best self-tanners out there because results can last up to three weeks. But be careful when applying because its longevity means if you accidentally leave a streak behind, you’re in trouble.

The Vita Liberata mousse provides a subtle and natural tan that fades evenly. While this product comes at a high price, the long-lasting tan more than justifies it. Keep in mind that the best results require three applications about eight hours apart with a shower in between.

Type: Mousse | Main ingredients: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice powder, licorice root extract, raspberry leaf extract, pomegranate juice extract, ginkgo biloba leaf extract, DHA, glycerine | Scent: Odorless |Tan longevity: 2-3 weeks

Best self tanner for dark skin
St. Moriz Advanced Color Correct Tanning mousse – Ultra Dark

What we love

  • Color corrected specifically for dark skin
  • Transfer resistant
  • Fades evenly

What we don’t love

  • Not super long lasting if you don’t reapply
  • Takes 8 hours to fully develop
  • Has a mild to moderate tanner smell

This product is specifically designed for darker skin, color corrected to include yellow undertones that add a glow to the skin with natural gray undertones. The mousse is easy to put on and creates an even tan. 

It’s best applied in the morning — while it won’t transfer to your clothes, you’re not supposed to shower for eight hours after application. It will start to fade after three days or so, but you can extend it to a week by reapplying a day or so after the first use.

Type: Mousse | Main ingredients: DHA, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Propylene Glycol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Phenoxyethanol | Scent: Moderate tanner scent |Tan longevity: Up to a week

Find your glow without the sun damage

Getting a sun-kissed glow is an investment, so some of the top self tanner picks are a bit pricey. However, don’t disregard the drugstore options that tend to offer a gradual tan. Our favorite pick is the St. Tropez Self Tan Luxe Whipped Crème Mousse because it offers a killer tan without any streaks. However, if you’re starting with no color and want to commit, you may want to consider Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse.

How to pick the right self tanner for you

When searching for the best self tanner, consider the available types and formulas, where you plan to apply your tanner, and the ingredients. You’ll also want to consider the level of tan you’re aiming for and how long you want your tan to last when picking a product.


  • Lotion. Self-tanning lotions are good for beginners because they don’t have a learning curve. Just rub the product into your skin like a moisturizer and let it work its magic. 
  • Mousse. Self-tanning mousses are similar to lotion but feature a creamier texture. Like lotions, they are a great choice for beginners and experts alike.
  • Liquid. Liquid self-tanners are a mixed bag. They dry very quickly, which can be good or bad, depending on how long it takes you to apply them. For some, they might dry before there’s been a chance to adequately rub them in. Unlike self-tanning lotions and mousses, they aren’t moisturizing.
  • Spray. Self-tanning sprays are a little harder to use, but they have some serious benefits. If you can get a friend to help, they might be well worth the effort. Their formula usually dries faster, and once you get over the learning curve, their application is much quicker. You’ll need to apply it in the shower or outdoors to avoid creating a mess. 
  • Towels. Self-tanning towels are disposable towels soaked in a self-tanning liquid. They are very easy to use, but eco-friendly tanners might find them a bit wasteful.

Application area

  • Face. Face products are chemically designed for face skin, so be sure to choose one that’s aligned with the oil level on your face. 
  • Body. Body self tanners tend to be lotions or mousses and can be applied to your arms, legs, and torso. You may need this type of tanner if your face is already tan, but your legs are still pale.
  • Both face and body. Some self tanners are formulated for both face and body. They’re the right choice if you want an all-over, even color before heading to the beach.


  • Dihydroxyacetone. Also called DHA, this ingredient often smells bad, but it serves an important purpose. DHA is actually what changes the color of your skin and regulates your tan.
  • Erythrulose. This ingredient reacts with amino acids to create a darkened appearance on your skin. 
  • Caprylic/capric triglyceride. Many tanners include this because it locks in moisture on your skin, preventing the self tanner from drying out your skin.
  • Glycerin. This component also locks in moisture and is often a common ingredient in self tanners.


What’s the best self tanner to use? 

St. Tropez Self Tan Luxe Whipped Crème Mousse has immediate results and a good glow. It also has a mild smell and won’t rub off on your clothes. There is an extra dark option for people with darker skin tones. 

What self tanners do the Kardashians use?

The Kardashians have said they use St. Tropez’s Jumbo Self Tan Express Mousse and Dolce Glow Spray Tan Solution. Both offer even coverage and last for several days. 

What’s the best fake tan for older skin?

People with mature skin may want to have a moisturizing component in their self tanner. Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer is good for people of all ages as a part of their daily hydration routine.