11 Best Self-Tanning Products For Face And Body

Here at The AEDITION we are all about a faux (read: sunless) glow, and we’re rounding up the best self-tanners to give you head-to-toe radiance in a matter of hours – if not minutes – sans so much as a second in the sun.
Written by Vivien Moon
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11 Best Self-Tanning Products For Face And Body Jason Blackeye/Unsplash

From speeding up the aging process to increasing the likelihood of skin cancer, tanning (via the sun or indoor tanning beds) is a no-no. But that doesn’t mean we don’t all yearn for sunkissed skin. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to achieve a bronzed glow that won’t land you on your dermatologist’s naughty list. Thanks to innovation in the marketplace, today’s self-tanners allow you to say goodbye to streakiness and stinky smells and hello to a plethora of instant options.

For a quick and natural-looking tan sans sun, The AEDITION is rounding up the best self-tanning products that give the illusion of hours spent frolicking on the beach.

The Self-Tanner/SPF Hybrid


Whether you’re hitting the pool or going for a picnic in the park, sunscreen is a non-negotiable. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice glow. Those who want to kill two birds with one stone can look no further than the Supergoop! Healthy Glow Sunless Tan. Suitable for face and body, the spray formula offers physical protection of SPF 40 alongside a self-tanner that develops in a few hours. $38, supergoop.com

The Moisturizing Self-Tanner


Because exfoliation prior to self-tanning is necessary for best results, the skin needs more moisture to keep it looking healthy. So, why not use a product that can do both? The Kora Organics Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion utilizes dihydroxyacetone (DHA) — an ingredient naturally derived from sugar — to give a non-toxic, gradual glow without dehydrating the skin. $48, koraorganics.com

The Customizeable Self-Tanner


Can’t decide between subtle radiance and a deeper tan? Chaz Dean’s Bella Spirit Self Tanning Bronzing Drops offer both. The depth of the bronze is a direct reflection of how many drops you add to your lotion (it plays particularly well with the brand’s Bella Spirit Ultra Nourishing Intensive Body Treatment). Bonus: it doesn’t transfer to clothing or stain sheets, so feel free to apply the night before an outing to wake up radiant. $48, chazdean.com

The Self-Tanner For The Face


When it comes to faux glows, it is important to remember that the skin on the face may be more sensitive than the rest of the body. To prevent breakouts and clogged pores, read the label and seek out products with nourishing and clarifying ingredients. The Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad Self Tanner for Face combines key AHAs (lactic and glycolic acids) with panthenol, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E to leave the complexion smooth and sunkissed for days. Oh, and the convenient wipe design doesn’t hurt either. $38, dermstore.com

The Self-Tanner With a Little Something Extra


Who doesn’t love a multipurpose product? South Seas Skincare’s Tahitian Tan Mist packs a big punch that will leave the skin literally and figuratively glowing. Formulated with exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids, calming aloe vera, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and free radical-fighting antioxidants (think: vitamins A, C, and E), the easy-to-apply spray offers both immediate and long-term benefits. $28, dermstore.com

The Instant Self-Tanner


Looking for a glow, like, yesterday? The Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Body Shield Bronze SPF 50 provides a quick-fix for those rushed moments when time (and tan!) is of the essence. For those keeping score, it also protects against UVA/UVB rays, pollution, blue light, and infrared radiation. $45, colorescience.com

The Long-Lasting Self-Tanner


If you are looking for a self-tanner with staying power, Vita Liberata is here to help. Enjoy two to three weeks of radiance with the pHenomenal Tan Mousse. Available in three shades (light, medium, and dark), the long-lasting tanner dries down fast without dehydrating the skin or imparting that ‘fake tan’ smell. A true win-win. $54, vitaliberata.com

The Self-Tanner For Those Hard-To-Reach Spots


Being self-sufficient and independent is enough to make someone feel golden. But when it comes to getting those hard-to-reach areas (think: the back), it’s time to call in reinforcements. The Coola Organic Sunless Tan Dry Oil Mist can help you achieve an even glow across the shoulder blades and down the back body — ensuring no spot is left un-bronzed. Powered with DHA and aloe vera, it’s hydrating, fast-absorbing, and transfer-resistant. $46, coola.com

The Self-Tanner For Legs


There are no two ways about it: applying self-tanner on the legs can be tricky. Knees and ankles often need additional moisture, while properly covering the backs of legs is its own kind of dilemma. In a matter of seconds, the Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs aerosol spray provides effortless reach and even distribution of product. $12, sallyhansen.com

The Self-Tanner Remover


Made a mistake or just want to start with a fresh base? Worry not, Tan-Luxe is here with its multi-use Glyco Water Exfoliating Tan Remover, Cleanser, and Primer. Exfoliating glycolic acid combines with calming aloe leaf juice and nourishing raspberry seed oil to remove any residual tanner in five minutes or less without drying out the skin. $33, tan-luxe.com

The Self-Tanning Tool To Prevent Streaking


A surefire way to signal that your glow is faux is the dreaded streaking that can accompany the application process. As such, Coco & Eve's velvet mit is a self-tanner's best friend. It allows for ease of use when spreading the product all over the body, while keeping the hands clean – just make sure you don’t forget to tan them as well! $15, ulta.com

P.S. Here Are Some Application Pro Tips

While all the products included here are designed to go on easily and evenly, there are a few precautions you can take to ensure a flawless faux glow. First and foremost, make sure your skin is exfoliated and moisturized — there is nothing worse than trying to apply self-tanner to a rough patch. Clean, smooth skin is the best way to avoid streakiness and improve wear.

Now that you’re properly prepped, there are a few body parts that never fail to pose a challenge. For instance, should you apply self-tanner to armpits? What about the hands and feet? Ears and neck? The answers are yes, yes, and yes, if you want to create a continuous tan. Here are some tips for navigating those problem areas:

  • Armpits: When tanning the armpits, shave 24 hours prior and do not put deodorant on before applying the self-tanner — the products don’t play well together. Be sure to apply just a small amount to the underarms, as the shade should only be a little deeper than the natural skin tone.
  • Ears: A little goes a long way here, too. Make sure to get the tops and the lobes with a small amount of lotion.
  • Hands & Feet: To ensure they blend well with the rest of the body, apply the same lotion, spray, or mousse in a downward motion from the wrists or ankles towards the fingers or toes. This helps keep the palms and bottoms of the feet from looking too dark.
  • Neck: Apply as you would the rest of the upper body, and don’t forget the back of the neck around the hairline. You might also consider using a slightly lighter shade than the rest of the body to avoid lines of demarcation around the jaw.

Couple one (or more!) of the innovative self-tanners above with these tips and you’ll be well on your way to an enviable, sun-safe glow that will no doubt have your friends wondering if you just returned from a tropical vacation.

All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.

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VIVIEN MOONis a senior editor at AEDIT.

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