This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Since we’re all well aware of the dangers of tanning beds — and too much time in natural sunlight sans SPF — self-tanners are the perfect solution for when the pastiness of those post-summer months gets to be a little too much for those of us who crave sun-kissed skin.
Sadly, not all self-tanners are created equally, and some can leave you looking streakier than a tabby cat. Luckily, beauty brands have launched innovative new products to make the process almost foolproof. Here are the ones to know about right now, so you don’t end up an orange mess later.
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If you’ve ever wondered how the Victoria’s Secret Angels always look so flawlessly sun-kissed, then we have your answer: Pradas Glow. Created by celebrity spray tan artist, Kristyn Pradas, her eponymous line includes this self-tanning mousse, which is made for people on-the-go. When you’re in a hurry, you can smooth this formula on, wait an hour, then immediately rinse. Not only will you get a quick-fix glow, but the tan will gradually develop for the next 24 hours before evening out to a long-lasting radiance.
Pradas Glow Sol Solution Sunless Tanning Mousse, $19.98, available at Pradas Glow
Charlotte Tilbury’s overnight mask cuts your tanning routine in half. Instead of having to decide between an extensive regimen and bronzing your body head-to-toe, this overnight lotion not only hydrates and plumps, but also tans while you sleep. Within two days, you’ve gone from winter pale to sun-kissed summer.
Charlotte Tilbury Overnight Bronze & Glow Mask, $55, available at Nordstrom
Welcome to the future. Instead of layering on a cream atop your cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, just slap this on for five to 15 minutes. Et voila: instant beach goddess.
St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Face Sheet Mask, $9, available at Sephora
Forget all that exhaustive tanning prep — these wipes exfoliate and build your color at the same time.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Gradual Glow Pad Self-Tanner for Face, $38, available at Sephora
Squirt a few pumps of this temporary bronzing serum into your palms, and work the liquid onto your face and neck. The result is a beautiful, sheer glow that never looks streaky or patchy.
By Terry Terrybly Densiliss Sun Glow, $116, available at DermStore
Sally Hansen’s Airbrush Legs is a classic spray-on tanning option for those looking for temporary color that won’t leave muddy streaks on your clothes. Simply spray the lightweight formula over your limbs and blend and allow to briefly dry. It’s that easy.
Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs, $8.59, available at Target
This gel-based bronzer comes with a handy sponge applicator, making it super easy to get a streak-free tan for one night only. The best part? It won’t budge or transfer onto clothes until you wash it off with soap.
Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Zero Tanlines Body Bronzer, $30, available at Nordstrom
Finally, a self-tanner that makes skin silky with coconut water and argan oil, and smells not just tolerable, but delicious. (Choose from vanilla, orchid, or apricot.) On top of that, the formula dries crazy-fast and never streaks, so it’s nearly impossible to overdo it. If you’re a beginner, this is a must-try.
Josie Maran Argan Liquid Gold Self-Tanning Oil, $38, available at Sephora
We love this solution to the messiness associated with traditional self-tanner application. By applying this formula in the shower, we keep our towels, clothes, and hands stain-free. Genius.
St. Tropez ‘In Shower – Golden Glow’ Gradual Tan, $25, available at Nordstrom
One major self-tanner turn-off? A chemical smell. Thankfully, this mousse contains zero stink and keeps your skin bronze for up to three weeks.
Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse, $27, available at Sephora
We don’t know how Gigi Hadid gets her sun-kissed, weekend-in-Malibu bronze on, but this easy-to-blend lotion can help you easily dupe the golden girl’s coveted tan.
This Works Perfect Legs Skin Miracle, $68, available at DermStore
We know how tedious and time-consuming the process of tanning can be. These towelettes combine exfoliating, tanning, and moisturizing in one.
TanTowel Self-Tan Towelette, $29, available at DermStore
This bronzing booster serum makes applying self-tanner to your face so easy. Just mix three drops with your day or night moisturizer and smooth it onto your visage and neck.
Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster, $32, available at Sephora
This brand new gradual tan lotion from St. Tropez is tinted, which helps with application so you know where you’ve already applied, aiding you in your anti-streak mission. Plus, you get the benefit of an “instant” glow. Over time the tan gradually sets in to give you healthy color, and you can add to it each day to intensify the look.
St. Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted Everyday Body Lotion, $30, available at Ulta Beauty
Tanning towelettes make the process of self-tanning oh-so easy, but these, from Sun Bum, go above and beyond. Packed with vitamins E and B5, these moisturize as they tan. All you need to do is rub the towel (in a circular motion) onto your skin. If you want a deeper tan than what develops, simply use a second wipe to build color.
Sun Bum Sun Bum® Sunless Self Tanning Towelette , $15.99, available at Target
If you struggle with a lotion application, Jergens’ Natural Glow Instant Sun Mousse may be just what you need. The lightweight mousse assists with an even application and dries in just 60 seconds, so you don’t need to worry about staining.
Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Mousse, $12.99, available at Ulta Beauty
With a blend of energizing caffeine and hyaluronic acid, this lightweight formula instantly brings a glow back to your complexion. The formula has a hint of caramel for a natural tint and works best when mixed with your face moisturizer.
This Works Energy Bank Sun Flash, $41.6, available at DermStore
This self-tanner is caramel-colored to help prevent mistakes and has a delicious cocoa scent (hence the name). Plus, the cream is ultra-moisturizing, so once you’ve applied your glow, your skin will be extra soft, too.
Clarins Delicious Self-Tanning Cream, $48, available at Sephora
Everyone knows that if you’re using self-tanner on your body, you also need to find something that will add color to your face, because it all needs to match. Vita Liberata’s new anti-aging serum not only helps to firm and plump up your skin, but it also delivers a natural tan to your face — a place you definitely don’t want to be orange. Plus, the serum is delivered through a dropper, so you can mix it in with your moisturizer to ensure an even application.
Vita Liberata Self Tanning Anti Age Serum, $45, available at DermStore
This overnight tanning oil not only hydrates and gently exfoliates while you snooze, it also tans your skin within hours so you wake up with a glow. Even better, the formula is translucent so you’ll never have to worry about staining your pillowcase.
Tan-Luxe Sleep Oil, $49, available at Ulta Beauty
This ultra-hydrating whipped butter gives your complexion an instant tint that looks natural and lasts all day without streaking. Plus, it smells like a fruity dream compared to the self-tanners of yore.
Josie Maran Juicy Mango Whipped Argan Oil Self-Tanning Body Butter, $32, available at Sephora
Don’t want to commit to your tan? Totally fine, because St. Tropez has a formula that will wash off completely in 24 hours without any fuss.
St. Tropez One Night Only Wash Off Body Bronzing Mist, $20, available at Sephora
This self-tanner is completely colorless, which means there’s no need to fear sheet stains. And self-tanning when you sleep means you’ll wake up with a glow. It’s like magic.
James Read Sleep Mask Tan Face, $38, available at DermStore
In between spray tans, use a lotion that not only hydrates your fading tint, but adds a subtle glow back to it.
L’Oreal Paris L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Mil, $11.99, available at Walmart
These fast-acting self-tanning towels will stop you from panicking the second you spot your glow “fading” while on vacation.
Comodynes Self Tanning Towelettes, $46.45, available at Amazon
You can trust that these color-correcting mists won’t plague you with the dreaded Oompa Loompa skin that gives self-tanners a bad rap. Plus, the three shade options (sun-kissed, golden, and bronze) work for a wide range of skin tones, so you can even your complexion and score a healthy glow no matter where you’re starting from.
Isle Of Paradise Self-Tanning Water, $28, available at Sephora
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