Best Self Tanner 2021: Reviews of Top-Rated Self-Tanning Lotion, Spray - Rolling Stone
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For a Safe Tan, These Are the Best Self Tanners to Try Now

A nice tan can give you the illusion of tighter muscles and firmer skin, and give you that post-vacation glow — even if you’ve been stuck inside all summer

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With summer and vacation season here, nothing says leisure like showing up to an event with a tan. However, you may be unable to, or hesitant to vacation, due to Covid-19. Or, you don’t want to spend too much time in front of the sun’s harmful UV rays. That’s when self tanners come in handy, to give you a nice glow without having to risk any skin damage by sitting out in the sun. Working hard in the gym? A nice tan can also give you the illusion of tighter muscles and firmer skin. Of course, a good self tanner also just gives you that post-vacation glow — even if you’ve been stuck inside all summer.

Are Self Tanners Safe?

The best self tanners help you get a tan safely, and quickly. Sunless tanning, or a self tanner, contains the color additive dihydroxyacetone (DHA). According to Mayoclinic, dihydroxyacetone reacts with dead cells in the skin’s surface layer to temporarily darken the skin and simulate a tan. That’s the key ingredient to tanning your skin, which is generally agreed to be safe when you properly follow directions. 

The best self tanners are FDA-approved for external application, but the FDA states that DHA shouldn’t be inhaled or applied to areas covered by mucous membranes, such as the lips, nose, or areas around the eyes. 

How Do You Apply Self Tanner?

In addition to following given instructions, make sure your body is clean and exfoliated for the best results. You should apply in sections and wash hands in between in order to avoid staining your palms. It helps to invest in an application mitt. If you need to shave or wax, do so before applying. 

The best self tanners go on like a body lotion or cream, and should be rubbed in cleanly and evenly to avoid leaving streaks or marks. After you rub in the self tanner, be sure to wait a few minutes before putting dressing, so that the tanning formula sets into the skin — rather than transferring onto your clothes.

What Are the Best Self Tanners?

There’s an array of options, but we selected top rated and celebrity-approved self tanners to pick up online to help you get your best sunless tan. 

1. Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam



Bondi Sands’ Dark Self Tanning Foam is their #1 bestseller thanks to its lightweight formula that’s enriched with skin-nourishing ingredients like aloe vera and coconut. The Australian brand offers both a Light/Medium shade, which is #1 on Amazon, and Ultra Dark. Whatever your preference, reviewers note that it gives off color quickly though it can get a bit sticky before you wash. Just make sure to rub it in well and wash after the recommended time (one hour, or up to six hours for the deepest tan). Unlike cheap self tanners, we love that it doesn’t have a weird self tanner smell – the coconut smells pleasant, and just light enough to not be overpowering.

Buy: Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam at $24.00

2. SOL by Jergens Deep Water Mousse



SOL is a newly-added line by Jergens for self tanning. Their Deep Water Mousse provides the darkest tan. It’s a dye-free, water-based formula with coconut water, and made with tanning agents from natural sugars for a sun-enhancement-like glow. It’s at a lower price than many other self tanners, plus Jergens has been a long-time favorite among self tanning products. You can also consider their other SOL product, Body Bronzer, which is for all skin tones.

Buy: SOL by Jergens Deep Water Mousse at $14.79

3. St.Tropez x Ashley Graham Limited Edition Ultimate Glow Kit


ULTA Beauty

St. Tropez is another popular self tanning line. They have a limited-edition partnership with model and television presenter, Ashley Graham, that also provides quality skin care. The kit includes Self Tan Luxe Whipped Crème Mousse and a Limited Edition Applicator. It delivers a natural glow for up to a week, enriched with Hyaluronic Acid Complex, Rosehip Oil and Vitamin E, all of which the brand says is clinically proven to hydrate for nourished, healthy skin. The line is cruelty-free and made with 100% natural tanning actives.

Buy: St. Tropez x Ashley Graham Ultimate… at $55

4. Coola Sunless Tan Firming Lotion



A self tanner that also firms the skin is a must on this list. Coola’s Sunless Tan Firming Lotion is a hydrating, vegan and cruelty-free formula. It’s ideal for all skin types, too. Per the company, clinical results showed that 97% of women who tested the product showed their tan in 3-4 hours. In addition to DHA, its key ingredients include Alaria Esculenta Extract to support skin elasticity while helping to increase skin moisture and firmness and Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract to help increase skin hydration and smoothness. Reviewers mentioned that it gives a gradual tan and the tan is long-lasting.

Buy: Coola Sunless Tan Firming Lotion at $46

5. L’Oreal Paris Skincare Sublime Bronze Self Tanning Mist



After recommending lotions and mousse, we also had to include a spray tanner. For a low price, L’Oreal’s Sublime Bronze Self Tanning Mist is also a top-rated product on Amazon. It provides an airbrush tan with its 360-degree wide angle jet applicator–fine mist tans the skin in over a period of 2-3 hours. There’s the option to have a Deep Natural Tan or Medium Natural Tan. Apply daily for your desired result, and reapply 1-2 times a week for maintenance. 

Buy: L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Tanning… at $9.47

In This Article: RS Recommends, Skincare


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