How To Get A Pro-Level Tan On A Tight Budget

Maintaining a year-long tan gets expensive. For some, it entails booking a plane ticket to Florida every few months to clock some serious beach hours. For others, it means a standing appointment with a spray-tan artist who can coat your body in expensive, but temporary, bronzer. But what if we told you that you didn’t have to spend a fortune to keep up your glow? These days, getting a flawless tan is as easy as running to your nearest drugstore.

We know what you’re thinking: Self-tanner is not as good as the real thing. But the category is on the come up. Unlike the formulas of the past, the latest innovations don’t smell like toast (seriously, that “yeasty” smell is very real); they don’t turn you orange; and they don’t cost more than a bottle of Vanderpump Rules Pinot. And with DIY options under $15, you can stay within your budget and actually save for a vacation this year.

Lucky for you, we did all the heavy lifting and found the best affordable self-tanners out there. Interested? Click ahead for the cheap formulas we love.

Finally, the benefits of a translucent self-tanner have reached the drugstore with L’Oréal’s latest innovation. Not only is it free of the fussy guide color that will stain your sheets, but it’s also eradicated the worst part about at-home tanning: the smell. Instead of the chemical DHA scent, this mousse smells like its hero ingredient, coconut water.

L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Water Mousse, $14.99, available at Target

In a pinch, you can usually run across the street to the drugstore and find exactly what you need. But the self-tanner options were slim to none. That is, until this Aussie-favorite brand launched at Walgreens. Now, you can pick up everything from self-tanning mousse to a bronzing oil whenever you’re in desperate need of a tan.

Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam Light/Medium, $24, available at Walgreens

Gradual self-tanners are perfect for beginners, especially when the product doubles as a moisturizing body lotion. You can smooth this foolproof formula on your legs and arms every morning until you’ve reached just the right level of bronze.

B.Tan Gradual Tan Moisturizer, $14.99, available at Target

If you’re a regular at your local spray-tan salon, then you’ll appreciate this at-home solution. The micro-mist applicator covers your body in gradual tanner that should develop in 2-4 hours and last for a few days. The final results aren’t splotchy, so you won’t even need a mitt.

Neutrogena Micromist Airbrush Sunless Tan, $11.99, available at Target

Travel-friendly self-tanner is hard to come by — just imagine trying to get a 4 oz. bottle of brown mousse through the security check at the airport. Luckily, tanning towels, like these from L’Oréal, exist. It’s just an added bonus that the tanner is translucent, so you never have to worry about destroying that fancy — and very expensive — hotel bedding.

L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze™ Self-Tanning Towelettes , $8.99, available at Target

Technically, St. Tropez isn’t a drugstore brand, but its self-tanning sheet mask is right on budget at just under $10. Even better, this tanner works fast — like use before bed and wake up with a post-vacation glow fast.

St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Face Sheet Mask, $9, available at Ulta Beauty

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