The 9 Best Self Tanning Lotions of 2019

Self tanning lotions: The best of 2019

Donning a beautiful suntan can attract a lot of attention, especially during the warmer months of the year. But with UV rays causing major damage to your skin and even causing cancer, laying out in the sun or in a tanning bed can be incredibly dangerous to your health. That's where self tanning lotion comes into play. Instead of exposing yourself to dangerous rays, why not achieve a gorgeous, radiant glow with easy-to-use lotions, sprays, and creams?

When looking for the best self tanning lotion, it's important to first understand what kind of glow you're looking for. Some self tanning lotions boast a sparkling sheen while others present a more matte finish. Depending on what kind of tan you're looking for, you may prefer different kinds of self-tanning lotion.

Additionally, it's important to pay attention to self tanning lotions' ingredients. There are a lot of different brands out there which means lots of different chemicals and ingredients to expose yourself to. Be sure to read what's inside various self tanning lotions to make sure they feature safe ingredients.

Are you ready to get glowing? Check out our roundup of the best self tanning lotions.

Editors choice

1. Tan Towel Self Tan Towelettes

8.00 / 10

Whether you’re gallivanting on the beach or out of town at your best friend’s wedding, sometimes a little tan is needed! But if you don’t have time to bask in the sun or forgot your bottle of sunless tanner, you’re left looking pasty when you really don’t want to. But with these Tan Towel self tanning towelettes, you can get a radiant, gorgeous glow no matter where you are!

Unlike hard-to-apply lotions or liquid self-tanners, these tanning towelettes are really easy to use. And the best part? Applying it with your hands doesn’t turn your fingers awkwardly orange. With just one towelette, you can evenly distribute a layer of sun-kissed color on your legs or arms in repetitive circular motions and in just two to three hours, you’ll notice a definite difference.

After applying the selfless tanner, you can expect your radiant glow for a good seven days before it starts wearing off. And if you can’t stand that icky smell most self-tanners have, you’re in luck! These tanning towelettes boast a very subtle smell that actually is quite pleasant. The product comes with 10 individually packaged towelettes boasting a clear, liquid formula giving a very natural sunless tan.

When using these little guys, you can always expect a perfectly subtle tan ideal for your individual skin tone. That’s because the towelettes’ formula works with each individual’s unique proteins and amino acids, creating a great natural glow. Plus, people with sensitive skin love this product since it contains no harsh dyes or stains.

Key Features
  • 10-pack of high-quality fiber towelettes
  • Best for fair to medium skin tones
  • Color lasts up to seven days
  • Formula contains no dyes or stains
  • Product Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 2.6 x 4.1 inches
  • Drying TIme: n/a
  • Consistency: Moist towelette
  • Great for on-the-go tanning
  • Quick, even application every time
  • A healthy glow appears after just hours of applying
  • Tends to look darker around ankles and knees
  • Can't withstand water that well

Laying out in the sun to get a tan can severely dry out your skin, among other things. So why not use a self tanner that perfectly tans your skin while nourishing it at the exact same time? Say hello to Tan Physics Sunless Tanner! It’s kind of like a one-stop-shop for skincare.

Along with providing you with a great sunless tan, this formula can deeply moisturize the skin, helping to improve its appearance over time. The tanner also features anti-aging properties and can even out your skin, color correcting along the way. And unlike other sunless tanning lotions out there, Tan Physics doesn’t have an unpleasant smell. In fact, the formula boasts an advanced scent-blocking technology so that you never have to suffer as you apply it.

With a tanned hue via Tan Physics, you can look forward to way more than beautiful, glowing skin. You’ll also notice an improvement in the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks along with less visible varicose and spider veins.

The masterminds behind Tan Physics successfully garnered incredibly safe, natural ingredients to provide a sunless tanner that gives flawless results. Naturally derived with a sugar base, all of Tan Physics' self-tanners are incredibly long-lasting and contain tan-enhancing peptides, amino acids, and fruit extracts. No matter what your skin tone may be, you’re sure to find a healthy, golden glow with Tan Physics’ liquid formula.

Key Features
  • Contains natural ingredients
  • Formula boasts anti-aging properties
  • Color-correcting tint
  • Product Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 1.8 x 7.2 inches
  • Drying TIme: Fast-drying
  • Consistency: Liquid
  • One-step skin care with moisturizing and anti-aging formula
  • Restores your skin with regular use
  • Color stays on even after showering
  • Can be difficult to even out on skin
  • Can stain hands if you don't use a sponge or mitt

Hey, you moisturize on the daily, so why not get a little healthy glow while you’re at it? If you don’t want a super-harsh sunless tan and don’t enjoy lyin out in the sun to get a bronze glow, this L’OREAL Sublime Glow daily moisturizer may be right up your alley.

When it comes to getting a subtle, slow-developing glow, this moisturizer-turned-bronzer is just the ticket! After using this lotion on the regular, you’ll start to notice a beautiful sun-kissed glow after just two to three days of use. And since it’s a lotion that absorbs into your skin, you don’t have to worry about the color coming off throughout your day on your clothes, sheets and furniture. Plus, you don’t have to deal with the color getting all over your hands when you apply it.

This lotion, in particular, is designed to subtly enhance medium skin tones, giving them a healthy glow without having to bask under the sun’s rays or the lights of a tanning bed. The formula boasts light-capturing micro-pearls that accentuate your body’s natural color and contours, giving you the most natural glow ever.

As you apply the moisturizer, you won’t be able to ignore how supple and radiant your skin will become. That’s all in thanks to the tanning product’s wonderful ingredients including mango butter, vitamin E and sweet almond oil.

Key Features
  • Daily moisturizer and skin tone enhancer
  • Gives an even "glow" in 2-3 days
  • Non-tinted finish
  • Contains mango butter and vitamin E
  • Product Weight: 8 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 3 x 7.8 inches
  • Drying TIme: n/a
  • Consistency: Lotion
  • Absorbs quickly since it's a lotion
  • Gentle enough to use daily
  • Easy to apply and won't smudge off on clothing, furniture or sheets
  • Not the most natural-looking color
  • Has an unpleasant odor

What woman doesn’t want flawlessly smooth legs? Whether you have varicose veins, bruises, or basic discoloration that you often try to hide with tights and pantyhose, they’re no match for this self-tanner! Airbrush Legs by Sally Hansen is true to its name — after just one use, your legs look just like they’re actually airbrushed!

While this self-tanner gives a nice, sparkling glow, it also serves as makeup for your legs. It’s great for covering up imperfections like wrinkles, cellulite, freckles and more, leaving your legs looking young, firm and fabulous.

While the idea of putting makeup on your legs sounds like it would be the most tedious thing ever, this product is anything but. In just one simple step, you can completely give your legs the makeover they desperately need. Simply spray on the self tanner in one layer and you’re done. It’s seriously that simple.

This product is super lightweight and doesn’t cake on your legs like other sunless tanning lotions. It also contains palmaria extract which enriches your skin with vitamins and antioxidants. The formula is also water-resistant. So if you’re dealing with a particularly humid day or lying poolside, you won’t ever have to worry about your tan rubbing off. Plus, it contains a super-subtle sheen, giving your skin a radiant glow you just couldn’t get with a normal tan.

Key Features
  • Spray on legs for vein, freckle and scar coverage
  • One-step application
  • Comes in six shades
  • Product Weight: 4.4 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 ounces
  • Drying TIme: Fast-drying
  • Consistency: Liquid spray
  • Wide array of skin tone shades
  • Can apply very quickly
  • Good at covering imperfections on legs
  • Tends to rub off on clothing
  • Has a slight sheen that can be mistaken for sparkles

When it comes to quick-drying bronzing cream, Sun Labs’ self-tanning lotion is the obvious choice. That’s because this lotion dries incredibly quickly so you can apply a layer of glowing radiance without worrying about it rubbing off on everything as you go about your day. Plus, it’s made of natural ingredients and is even paraben-free! Seriously, what’s not to love about this stuff?

The Sun Labs self-tanning lotion works best if you apply on exfoliated, moisturized skin. For the best results, apply the lotion just after your shower, after you’ve sufficiently gotten rid of dead skin cells and applied a light layer of regular, moisturizing lotion. While the solution does dry rather quickly, it won’t be super resistant to water until around five to seven hours later, so make sure not to shower just after applying. It’s also important to apply the tanning lotion with a mitt as not to stain your fingers!

Sun Labs is located in sunny Southern California and was established in 1983 as family-owned business and still is to this day. Sun Labs prides itself on providing customers with safe, effective tanning lotion that is a great alternative to the sun’s harmful rays. Whether you have a lighter, medium or darker complexion, the company has a tanning lotion that can perfectly compliment your skin tone.

Unlike a lot of sunless tanning lotions out there, this particular product promises to be streak-free and won’t blotch on your skin. However, be sure to rub in the formula immediately after it touches your skin to ensure an even application.

Key Features
  • Doctor recommended
  • Safe, natural glow
  • Meant for both men and women
  • Easy to apply
  • Natural ingredients
  • Product Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 6 inches
  • Drying TIme: Quick-drying
  • Consistency: Lotion
  • Free of harsh chemicals
  • Streak and blotch-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Quick-drying
  • Doesn't last long after exposed to water
  • Stains hands if you don't use a mitt
  • It dries so fast sometimes you don't have time to rub it in properly

This tanning formula lives up to its name! Fake Bake ensures your skin looks perfectly sun-kissed without you ever having to lay under the sun or in a tanning bed. Its liquid spray formula ensures a streak-free tan every time you use it, without the harsh chemicals you’ll find in other self tanners like it.

Fake Bake self tanner comes with a convenient color guide so you know exactly how much to use to get your desired skin tone — and don’t worry, this self tanner can work with just about any skin tone out there. That’s due to its three ingredients, dihydroxyacetone (DHA) boosted by DMI and erythrulose which when put together, naturally enhance the pigment of your skin. It also includes an application mitt to help you apply the solution evenly. The formula dries very fast and forms a flawless tan in just 4 to 6 hours after being rubbed into your skin.

Fake Bake boasts a top-of-the-line formula that’s fast-absorbing, ensuring it lasts longer after applying. Unlike other self tanners, Fake Bake doesn’t double as a moisturizer which can often increase drying time. In other words, this tanning lotion will flawlessly absorb into your skin and won’t rub off as you go about your day.

This self tanner is also incredibly safe to use and is held to a very high health standard. Creators behind Fake Bake intended on making a safe product, rich with botanical extracts and state-of-the-art technology. The formula is also held in environmentally safe storage facilities so you can rest assured you’ll be getting a safe, well-maintained bottle every single time.

Key Features
  • Long-lasting, fast-absorbing formula
  • Coconut scent
  • Includes built-in color guide
  • Includes application mitt
  • Product Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 2 x 0.5 inches
  • Drying TIme: Quick-drying
  • Consistency: Liquid spray
  • Boasts a tropical scent
  • Works with a wide array of skin tones
  • Paraben and DMDM hydantoin-free
  • Isn't that sustainable against soap and water
  • If it goes unused it turns green in the bottle

Your days of orange, splotchy tans and awkward streaks are long behind you! Skinerals Bronzer boasts a healthy formula, safe to use on a regular basis for a great, golden sunless tan. Whether you use your hands or a special mitt to apply the self-tanner, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how natural a glow you’ll have.

This bronzer is very easy to apply thanks to its smooth, light liquid mousse. And knowing the self-tanner will absorb directly into your skin, the creators of Skinerals Bronzer made sure the formula is free of any nuts and oils, making it an ideal option for those with sensitive skin. The foam is also chemical-free and instead, consists of different minerals and earth elements that actually promote healthy cell development, meaning healthy-looking skin all the time! It’s no wonder the stuff comes dermatologist recommended.

Skinerals Bronzer is also gluten-free, paraben-free, and vegan, making it perfect for those living a clean, healthy lifestyle. In addition to its gentle ingredients, this self tanner is incredibly effective at giving you an even, natural-looking tan. And with up to 8 full-body uses with every bottle, you can rest assured you’ll be getting your money’s worth.

When using this self tanner, you won’t ever have to deal with a nasty, chemical odor. And applying it is effortless thanks to its easy-to-use pump. Simply spread the solution on your arms, legs, or face with a special mitt or your hands for a splotch-free, orange-less tanning experience!

Key Features
  • Meant to use on face and body
  • Paraben-free, vegan, made in the U.S.A.
  • Light, pleasant scent
  • Four to eight full-body treatments per bottle
  • Streak-free application
  • One application can last up to seven days
  • Product Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Drying TIme: Fast-drying
  • Consistency: Liquid foam
  • Great for those with sensitive skin
  • Color lasts for up to seven days
  • No chemical smell
  • Slightly orange tint on select skin tones
  • Washes off too easily

If you’ve been looking for a new self tanner that’s actually good for your skin, look no further! Tanceuticals self tanning lotion is great for helping you achieve a vibrant, golden glow in addition to actually making your skin healthier!

If you like to live a clean, healthy lifestyle and are afraid to use chemical-rich self tanners, you’ll find that Tanceauticals meet your needs perfectly. This tanner features a paraben-free formula that’s never tested on animals — in fact, it’s certified cruelty-free by PETA itself! Plus, it’s free of harmful ingredients including mineral oil.

After using this self tanner, your skin will actually be in better shape than before you used it. That’s because the tanner contains acai berry, mango butter, and vitamin E to help enrich your skin and improve its appearance and overall condition. Plus, its use of yummy-smelling coconut oil makes the formula actually smell good, unlike other stinky self tanners out there.

After using Tanceuticals self tanner, you’ll love its natural look, free of orange splotches or streaks. That’s all thanks to the formula’s thin liquid consistency, enabling you to easily spread the formula evenly on your skin. Once you apply it, the tanner dries incredibly quickly and lasts a good 6 to 7 days before wearing off. And it’s never sticky. Men and women alike love using this self-tanner!

Key Features
  • #1 Rated Best Self Tanner
  • Natural looking sunless tanner
  • Fresh coconut scent
  • Lasts an average 6 to 7 days
  • Ingredients improve skin quality
  • Product Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 2 x 7 inches
  • Drying TIme: Fast-drying
  • Consistency: Liquid
  • Boasts a vegan formula free of harmful chemicals
  • A go-to tanner for many celebs
  • Works great on both men and women
  • Easy to blend and never sticky
  • Won't rub off on clothes or furniture
  • Formula is very thin, making it hard to spread for some
  • Doesn't include a color guide

Looking for a self tanner that isn’t bursting with harmful chemicals? Then you may want to take a look into the Miami Gorgeous Self Tanning Mousse! This self tanner not only boasts healthy ingredients, but it provides a great tan, free of streaks and orange hues. In other words, it’s the next best thing to a real tan.

Applying this self tanner is incredibly easy. Whether you choose to apply it with your hand or a mitt, the solution goes on super-smooth and not too thick, allowing you to evenly distribute color in a way that looks very natural. And once you do apply it, the self-tanner dries quickly so that you don’t have to worry about it getting on your clothes, bedsheets or whatever else your skin may come into contact with.

Unlike most other self-tanners out there, Miami Gorgeous Self-Tanning Mousse won’t expose your skin to harmful chemicals like lead, paraben and whatever else. On the contrary, this stuff is infused with argan oil, coconut, oil and other ingredients that nourish and moisturize your skin. Plus, the tanning solution is paraben-free, gluten-free and cruelty-free! It’s also eco-certified, so you can be sure you’re not hurting the environment.

Whether you’re putting the self-tanner on your arms, legs, or even your face, you can rest assured you’ll sport a natural, orange-free glow that’s sure to turn heads. And if you’re worried about the tanner having an icky smell, don’t be. With ingredients like coconut oil and elderflower extract, you can be sure this self-tanner won’t be offensive to your nose or the noses of those around you. And this tanner’s manufacturer is so sure of this, they even offer a 100% cash-back guarantee if you’re at all dissatisfied.

Key Features
  • Infused with argan and coconut oils
  • Streak-free
  • Enough for 10-12 full-body uses
  • Cruelty-free, paraben-free, and eco-certified
  • Product Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Drying TIme: Fast-drying
  • Consistency: Mousse
  • Provides a natural, streak-free look
  • Doesn't have a nasty chemical smell
  • Enriched with organic oils and extracts
  • Very easy to apply, with or without a mitt
  • Warm undertones in the tanner can make cooler skin tones look more orange
  • Doesn't have the best staying power after showering

So, you're on the endless quest for the best self tanning lotion? As you probably have already noticed, there are a lot of choices out there — almost too many, in fact. Looking for a good self tanning lotion isn't solely about getting a healthy glow without having to sit under the sun for hours at a time (although that's part of it). Shopping for the best self tanning lotion is also about its ingredients, lasting power, and of course, how it all works.

What's the best way to apply self-tanner?

First off, make sure you're in a well-ventilated room. Some of the best sunless tanners come in the form of spray and you don't want to inhale too many of its chemicals.

Whether or not you apply the self tanning lotion with your hands is up to you. However, using your hands may result in dark, tan fingers that don't match the rest of your body. That's why many of the best self tanning lotions come equipped with a handy application mitt. But if they don't, you can usually find a self tanning mitt at a beauty supply store or drug store.

How do you know if a self tanning lotion will last?

The truth is, even if it says "quick-drying" on the label, drying times on selfless tanning lotions can vary depending on how you apply it and your skin type. However, if you know you're going to be using the stuff on your way out the door or just before an event, make sure you know it dries really fast, otherwise you'll risk ruining furniture, clothing, or whatever else your tanned skin comes into contact with.

Is self tanning lotion only for arms and legs?

While many of the best self tanning lotions are intended for your limbs exclusively, there are plenty of great products out there that are safe to put on your face. Just be sure to read the label to make sure it's okay to do so.

Don't forget to prep your skin!

Even the best self tanning lotions are no match for dry, patchy skin. If you have dry spots on your arms or legs, any self tanner you apply will stick awkwardly to those spots, creating an uneven tan. To ensure this doesn't happen, always properly exfoliate and cleanse your skin before ever applying self tanning lotion, no matter what form it comes in.

And conversely, don't rub your skin too hard in the shower or exfoliate if you're trying to make a fake tan last. While many of the best self tanning lotions are somewhat water-resistant, they can often fade in the shower, especially if you use a rough sponge or exfoliating soap.

Resources — Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire


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