The Best Dermatologist Approved Self-Tanners

Woman tanning on beach

Achieving the perfect summer glow is no easy feat. Between mitigating exposure to harmful rays from the sun and tanning beds, coupled with horror stories of orange hands and streaky self-applied tans – it can be hard to get it right. Lucky you, we’ve tried, and now carry, our favorite self-tanners for easy and natural-looking tans. Both come in an array of skin tones and formulas for a simple application that makes tanning easy to incorporate into your routine through summer, and all year long. Read on for a deep dive into our favorite self-tanners for a healthy, sun-kissed look.

St. Tropez 

At-home self-tanners have come a long way since their smelly and greasy origins. St. Tropez puts drugstore buys to bed with a suite of products that provide an option for everyone. Made with a 100% natural tanning agent, St. Tropez is committed to making everyone glow with confidence. Their line includes a gradual lotion, a purity water formula in mist, mousse, and gel, prep, maintenance and removal products, and more. And although every skin tone is unique, St. Tropez has formulated their self-tanners to provide a tailored tan to each user. Bonus: they’ve developed a self-tanner that doesn’t smell like a typical self-tanner. With so many options, you’re sure to find a self-tanner perfect for your needs. 

Some of our favorites include One Night Only which is a no-commitment tan that washes off with soap and water, perfect for first-time users or those looking for an instant tan. For a sun-kissed glow that can build based on your preference, Gradual Tanning Lotion can be used in place of a daily moisturizer to maintain your perfect glow. More well-known is their Classic Tan. Applied via mitt, these formulas take 4-8 hours to develop before lasting up to 10 days. This product is great for an occasional tan or those prone to streaky or patchy tans. And lastly,Purity Waters is a transparent and hydrating formula that is packed with nutrients to support healthy skin and a healthy glow. 

Loving Tan

This popular self-tanner was made by tan lovers, for tan lovers. For a natural-looking tan in minutes their salon-inspired formula provides quick color that develops over time. The hydrating aloe vera base allows for even application and absorption. Similar to St Tropez, they have a cohesive product line that allows for personalization in your at-home tanning process. Their standout2 HR Express Mousse creates a beautiful glow in 2 hours, if not sooner. With over 5 applications per bottle, the tanner creates a natural olive color through a fool-proof application. Loving Tan also creates a face-only tanner that ranges in shade for a wide variety of skin tones. We carry a long list of Loving Tan thanks to their commitment to inclusivity of skin tones and ingredients. There’s not a shade they haven’t perfected and with easy application and a natural ingredient list, it’s quickly become a cult favorite.


Now that we’ve covered which tanner might be best for you, let’s do a quick run down of applications so you can get the most from your tanner. Some might argue that the self-tanner application technique matters just as much as your preferred tanner. Why? Because no matter the formula, a detailed application is the best way to ensure a streak-free tan. Here are a few of our tried and true tips:

  1. Always tan in a well-ventilated area when using a spray. Even natural ingredients can be hard for your lungs to take in. 
  2. Next, exfoliate your skin. This removes dead skin and creates a smooth canvas for application. Dry brushing before showering and using an exfoliating washcloth is a great way to go. 
  3. Don’t moisturizer before applying tanner as it forms a barrier and doesn’t allow the tanner to develop properly. 
  4. Start small and slow. Lightly apply the tanner and rub it in using a circular motion.
  5. Bonus, use an application mittso your hands don't overdevelop and end up stained. If you’re not using a glove, be sure to wash your hands immediately after application. Make sure to pay attention to natural creases.
  6. Apply another coat. Depending on the tone you’re going for and the richness of the tan you may want to apply another layer. Otherwise, read the direction on your tanner to inform how long it will take to develop.

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