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Get Your Summer Glow On with These Self-Tanning Products

Three different bottles of self-tanner.
Jergens/Bondi Sands/St. Tropez

Summer’s still a few months away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get that beautiful tan going right now. These popular self-tanners will help you get that bronze, glowing skin right in the comfort of your own home.

If your experience with self-tanners involves a traumatic, very orange experience from your teens, you’ll be happy to know these types of products have improved significantly. Today’s brands come in a variety of shades, scents, and applications. Most of them also dry within a few minutes and won’t rub off on your clothing or sheets.

So, let’s get bronze with a list of the best at-home tanning products.

Warning: These products are designed for the body, not the face. Anyone with particularly sensitive or acne-prone skin should only use tanning products designed specifically for the face and neck on those areas.

Best Overall: Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam

Person holding a bottle of self-tanner in front of a yellow wall.
Bondi Sands

With thousands of positive reviews on Amazon, it’s a safe bet that Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam will give a great tan at a great price. This brand hails from Australia, where cocoa-deep tans are the norm.

The lightweight foam is easy to apply, and the light coconut scent doesn’t have any of the funky smell usually associated with tanning products. Use an applicator mitt (sold separately) for a more even color and less residue on your hands. Reviewers love that the color is a deep brown—no hint of orange streaks here!

Another pro of this product is that you can customize your shade based on how long you leave the tanner on before rinsing. The longer it stays on, the darker your tan will be.

Best Overall

Best Bargain: Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Body Mousse

A bottle of self-tanner on a white background and a woman pumping tanning mousse into her hand.

Jergens is one of the original drugstore brands to offer tanning at home. Fortunately, their products have evolved from smelly lotion to a wide range of products, including this Natural Glow Instant Sun Body Mousse.

This mousse offers a deep, luxurious tan for a great price. You’ll get a darker shade instantly, and the color will deepen over the next few hours. The formula dries in 60 seconds, but some reviewers say it still feels a little sticky, so you might want to apply before bed (it won’t stain your sheets) to let the color develop and then rinse it off in the morning.

The light, fruity scent also isn’t overwhelming, so it shouldn’t bug you if you choose to tan in the morning.

Best Splurge: St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse

A bottle of self-tanner sits next to a applicator mitt with brown mousse on it.
St. Tropez

St. Tropez has been the leader of high-end tanning products for a long time. Of all their offerings, the Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse is a cult favorite for a reason. It smells great, it’s easy to apply, and the golden-tinted color looks great on every skin tone.

The best aspect of this product is how forgiving the formula is. Reviewers say it’s virtually impossible to get a patchy or streaky tan, so it’s great for beginners who haven’t tanned at home before. The color lasts for up to 10 days, meaning you can have a beautiful tan for a long time before needing to reapply.

Best Mousse: L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Water Mousse

A bottle of self-tanner next to a gold towelette packet.
L’Oreal Paris

Another popular drugstore option, L’Oreal Paris’ Self-Tanning Water Mousse is a water-based option that melts into your skin for a flawless finish. It also wins a lot of points for the scent alone—it’s a bright, coconut smell that will have you reminiscing about your last beach vacation.

You’ll get a subtler glow with one application, so it is recommended that you apply multiple times before showering if you want a deeper glow. You can also use it a few days in a row to customize your color, but the product is meant to be rinsed off after a few hours so that may take more time.

Best Lotion: Beauty by Earth Self Tanner

A bottle of tanning lotion sits on palm leaves and a woman holds the bottle by her face.
Beauty by Earth

Although you’ll find many mousse products on this list, Amazon’s most popular tanning product is Beauty by Earth’s Self Tanner, which happens to be a lotion. Reviewers like that the coverage is buildable and it’s easy to reach your perfect color over the course of a few days.

This tanning lotion contains lots of natural ingredients like aloe vera and shea butter for a moisturizing glow every time you use it. It has a nice, light scent and creates a bronze color that works with all skin tones. It takes a little longer to dry than foam options, but it won’t stain your sheets or clothes once it has dried completely.

Best Natural Option: Skinerals Californium Self-Tanning Mousse

A white bottle of self tanner next to its box and a woman in sunglasses smiles.

If you’re concerned about the chemicals found in many tanning products, grab Skinerals Californium Self-Tanning Mousse instead. It’s sulfate-free, paraben-free, and is made with natural and organic ingredients. It’s great for sensitive skin and can even be applied to your face (contrary to our disclaimer above).

Natural ingredients don’t diminish this tanner’s ability to give you a great glow. The solution is green-based to avoid an orange tint and after a few hours of developing you’ll have a beautiful bronze tan.

Best Mist: Neutrogena Micromist Airbrush Sunless Tanning Spray

A yellow bottle of self tanning mist and a woman uses the mist on her legs.

One downside of foam- and lotion-based self-tanners is it’s hard to get every inch of your body without some help. If you’re applying alone, you’ll usually end up with a small square on your back that stays pale because you can’t quite reach it.

If you want legit full coverage, grab Neutrogena’s Micromist Airbrush Sunless Tanning Spray. Gently mist all over your body for an even glow that dries quickly and doesn’t need to be rubbed in. The bottle will even spray upside down so you can reach every part of your body. It’s best used in the bathroom and away from clothing or bedding so you don’t stain any fabric by accident.

Best Gradual Tan: Jergens Natural Glow Sunless Tanning Lotion

Someone holds a bottle of tanning lotion inside and outside by the pool.

If you’re looking for a subtle increase in color, your best bet is a gradual tanning lotion. These products can be used in place of your daily lotion and will deepen your color a little bit every day.

Jergens Natural Glow Sunless Tanning Lotion is one of the most popular gradual tanners on the market. The product has won numerous beauty awards for its ability to create a buildable, believable glow within a few days. You won’t get a baked look with this lotion, but it’s great for anyone looking to enhance their natural color.

Best Gradual Tan

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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