Best Self-Tanners 2022

I’m one of those people who want a year-round summer glow because it makes me look healthy, rested, and toned, even when I’m legitimately sleep deprived and haven’t done any strength training for weeks. But of course I want the beautiful bronze with no UV damage, and when I use self-tanner it needs to be as foolproof as it gets. While I have patience and attention to detail for most things, applying self-tan can be time-consuming, tedious, and a little stressful — and losing focus can have unfortunate, orange-tinged consequences.

Thankfully, in recent years there have been a number of innovative formulations that address long-held deficiencies in at-home artificial tanning. The best self-tanners are easier to apply, streak-free, long-lasting—and they don’t transfer to clothes or sheets. And many don’t leave behind that tangerine sting or weird smell that’s so repulsive. With expert guidance, reviews, and lots of personal experience, I’ve rounded up the best self-tanning products for a flawless fake tan.

Best self tanner overall

A classic self-tanner that creates a flawless natural glow

Founded in the mid 90’s, St Tropez is a long-standing favorite among celebrities and non-celebrities alike. This formula is one of their bestsellers for several reasons: reviewers say it produces a natural-looking color (without orange), has very little odor, and allows you to pick your desired color and rinse off after one to three hours (although color will fade evolve for eight hours). A big plus: Because it’s an “express” tanner that you rinse off, there’s no transfer to your sheets.

What you will love:

  • Color develops quickly
  • Streak-free results

Keep in mind:

  • Can feel sticky
  • Best suited to neutral and warm skin tones – can be tricky on cool skin tones

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Best self tanner for face

A customizable tan that blends seamlessly into your beauty routine

Consider these drops the perfect antidote to tired face. Made with hydrating raspberry seed oil and aloe vera, it leaves a sun-kissed glow and blends easily without causing breakouts. I’ve been using this facial tanner for two years and I think it helps me look healthy and rested even when I’m not. In the winter when I’m feeling pale, I mix a drop with my moisturizer and apply; in summer I add two drops. I especially like that it blends well from my face to my neck when mixed with a moisturizer.

What you will love:

  • Customizable hue
  • Small bottle goes a long way

Keep in mind:

  • Must be mixed well with moisturizer, serum or face oil

Best self tanner for the body

A golden tan like you’ve just spent a week at the beach

This popular Australian brand has done well in the US in recent years and luckily is available in many drugstores. Reviewers love this coconut-scented, aloe-infused formula for its ease of application and natural-looking undertone. It’s available in three shades – light/medium, dark and ultra-dark – to give you coverage no matter your tanning goals. Note: Some say you’ll get clearer results with the dark formula unless you’re extremely fair.

What you will love:

  • Good size and value
  • Streak-free results
  • Can be layered

Keep in mind:

  • Some say it transmits
  • It can feel sticky

Best gradual self tanner

An organic, easy-to-apply lotion for a sun-kissed glow

While gradual tanners are more fail-safe, they need to be worn for a longer period of time. So with these, you should be sure that they don’t have a bad odor and won’t transfer to clothes or sheets. Reviewers love this fail-safe formula with moisturizing shea butter and aloe for its streak-free application, slow, natural build-up and very mild scent.

What you will love:

  • Does not stain clothing
  • natural ingredients

Keep in mind:

  • It may take some time for the color to develop

Inexpensive self-tanner

An inexpensive way to achieve a beautiful bronze

If you want your tanning effect to be believable, L’Oreal’s mousse is a popular option due to its complexion-enhancing effects. It’s formulated with coconut water and moisturizing vitamin E, and comes in a medium shade that works for most. It takes four to eight hours to develop, but a major benefit is that it’s clear and won’t transfer to clothing or sheets. However, this also means that you have to be very careful when applying.

What you will love:

  • Dries fast
  • Natural, non-orange color

Keep in mind:

The best self tanning towels

An exfoliating self-tanner for streak-free colour

Most of us naturally get some color in more exposed areas like our arms, but this self-tanner is invaluable for taking the edge off pale legs. I swear by these wipes that are individually wrapped and large enough to cover the surface of your entire body. They’re packed with alpha hydroxy acids, active vitamin D and Capislow, an ingredient thought to reduce shaving frequency. However, remember that these pads will definitely add significant color to you, especially in the area where you start the cloth.

What you will love:

  • Travel friendly
  • Doesn’t broadcast

Keep in mind:

Best anti aging self tanner

A lather that leaves a sunless, youthful glow

This product has two main benefits that users love: it’s known for its gorgeous fragrance, which is a rarity in self-tanners, and it’s packed with antioxidants to help reduce signs of aging. Its formula moisturizes and firms, making it excellent for concealing cellulite and blurring pigmentation for a more even skin tone. It’s also available in three shades – medium, dark and extra dark – and it’s been developed with a green-grey base, so the result is golden rather than orange.

What you will love:

  • Not sticky
  • 100% vegan formula

Keep in mind:

  • May be streaky if not applied carefully

Best moisturizing self-tanner

Gorgeous, vibrant color with a hydration boost

From the brand founded by famed tanning expert Jules Von Hep, this spray offers natural, well-blended color. Some self-tanners can feel very drying, but this one is packed with ingredients like squalene, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin, as well as argan, grapeseed, and avocado oils, all of which work together to restore moisture and increase skin’s suppleness. But note: this formula is obvious, so you need to be careful where you applied it.

What you will love:

Keep in mind:

  • Some say it can be messy to apply

Best self tanner for beginners

A dry oil mist for an even tan without spots or streaks

We’ve all dealt with self-tanning mistakes, and they usually involve streaky, uneven applications that are a dead faux-glow giveaway. But Coola’s premium dry oil mist is popular for its flawless, streak-free results, no tropical destination required (although you’ll still smell like a pina colada). Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) — an ingredient derived from sugar beets — is coupled with argan oil and aloe to give you an easy-to-build bronze. Users especially love it for its easy application and gradual build-up.

What you will love:

  • Moisturizing
  • Allows control over color depth

Keep in mind:

  • Can be sticky
  • It takes some time to build up color

What you should consider when choosing a self-tanner

Self-tanners have different uses, wait times, and undertones, and you should decide what works best for you. Some act quickly while others act gradually; some go clear and others are tinted. Here’s what to look for in the best self-tanner for you.


“Many of the popular self-tanners on the market use sugar molecules to naturally create a tanning response on the skin to mimic a tan,” says Dr. Rachel Nazarian of the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “Common ingredients are DHA (dihydroxyacetone) and erythrulose. The higher the concentration, the darker the tan.” Because DHA can have an odor, most formulas use masking agents like coconut or vanilla to mask the somewhat unappealing smell.


Self-tanners are one of the beauty products that can be applied in different ways. Through trial and error, you can decide what works best for you. “You’ll find foams, gels, drops and creams, among other things,” says Nazarian. “I find that the options that use exfoliation as a first step and a glove for easy application generally give nice results with less streaking. Alternatively, those that have a gradual tanning capacity, like drops added to your own lotion, can slowly build up color on a daily basis and give a very natural look.

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