6 Clean Self-Tanners That Leave Sensitive Skin Streak & Irritation Free

Tried, tested, and approved.

We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

I'll admit it: As a teen of the 2000s, I spent many a spring and summer in tanning beds. Those days are well behind me now — particularly after I had a skin cancer scare at the tender age of 26 — but that doesn't mean I don't yearn for a bronzed complexion.

I've tried countless self-tanners over the years for the sake of the cause, from mousses and foams to drops and lotions. As someone with sensitive skin, though, it can be tricky to find a streak-free formula that doesn’t cause irritation.

That’s because a lot of self-tanners contain ingredients that make them less-than-friendly for sensitive complexions. Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the active ingredient that gives sunless tanning products their color, has been linked to contact dermatitis, as have the masking fragrances and preservatives they’re often paired with to up a product’s user experience.

In addition to navigating my skin’s sensitivities, I also make it a point to avoid products that contain potential toxins, carcinogens, or hormone disruptors, which means “clean” formulas are tantamount to my routine.

Fortunately, there are plenty of genuinely *good* self-tanner options on the market right now that don't contain any potentially-problematic ingredients. Here are my personal favorites for a toxin-free glow that won’t irritate sensitive skin.

Best Sunless-Tanning Water

I discovered this product on TikTok, where beauty creators have been singing its praises for providing a transfer-proof, natural-looking tan. (One user literally claims it saved her marriage.)

It’s fragrance-free, petrochemical-free, and uses DHA derived from sugar beats in lieu of a synthetic version of the ingredient. Plus, it contains two different humectants, aloe leaf extract and glycerin, to pull moisture into the skin.

This lightweight tanning water comes in two shades: light to medium, and medium to dark. I use the former when I’m particularly pale and looking for a realistic-looking tan in the winter, and then switch to the latter once summer rolls around for deeper color.

You can totally use your fingers to apply it, but I highly recommend using Saltyface’s tanning brush for an even, airbrushed finish.

Best Sunless-Tanning Foam

What I love about this tanning foam — aside from the fact that it’s free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and petroleum — is that its heavenly tropical scent comes from real papaya, fig, coconut, and mango extract rather than synthetic chemicals. It’s also formulated with skin-nourishing cocoa seed oil, mandarin oil, coconut oil, and castor oil.

Thanks to the green-gray base, this foam offers a gorgeous bronze glow that never looks orange, no matter what your skin tone is. And for all my fellow instant gratification girlies, it develops in just two hours. (Or, you can leave it on overnight for a deeper tan.)

Best Customizable Sunless-Tanner

The advantage of tanning drops is that they allow you to customize your glow — the more drops you add, the darker your results. This particular product is not only vegan and fragrance-free, but is also made with plant-derived DHA. I like to mix a few drops with my daytime moisturizer or night cream when I’m seeking subtler results, but it can also be used alone for more intense color.

Another thing to note? This serum has one of the shortest ingredient lists of any self-tanning product I’ve ever found — and 99% of the ingredients are naturally derived. One worth highlighting is antioxidant-rich buriti oil, which may help protect cells from oxidative damage. The Typology Self-Tanning Serum is also suitable for all skin types — including those who are acne-prone, since it’s non-comedogenic.

Best Sunless-Tanning Lotion

What I love about self-tanning lotions is that they do double duty in hydrating my flake-prone skin while also delivering a dose of color. I’ve also found that it’s a lot easier to apply these types of products evenly for streak-free results.

What drew me to this particular lotion is that it contains no synthetic colors, parabens, or sulfates, and the DHA is derived from sugar beets. Many of the ingredients are organic, including aloe leaf juice, green tea leaf extract, pomegranate extract, and cranberry extract. There aren’t any artificial fragrances, either — the lotion’s scent comes from real vanilla fruit extract. And if your skin is especially dry like mine, the coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba seed oil in this formula are sure to deliver some much-needed moisture.

It’s also worth noting that this vegan, female-founded, dermatologist-tested line has a slew of other spectacular products, including a self-tanning mousse for your body as well as self-tanner serum and self-tanner drops for your face.

Best Sunless-Tanner For Face

This cruelty-free tanning concentrate can be added to any face oil, cream, serum, or moisturizer, and as with the Typology drops, you can customize the tan depending on how much product you use. There are no parabens, phthalates, or sulfates in this formula. It does, however, contain soothing and nourishing vitamin E and aloe vera, meaning your skin will not only look bronzed but also plump and hydrated.

One thing to note: this formula does contain fragrance. I have extremely sensitive skin, and I’ve never experienced irritation. However, if you’re looking to play it safe, or you just prefer a fragrance-free product, consider one of the other options listed here.

Best Colorless Self-Tanner

My one gripe with self-tanners (aside from that distinctive unpleasant smell they’re notorious for) is that they tend to stain my sheets. That’s not the case with this quick-drying clear tanning mousse, which provides a remarkably natural-looking golden glow with zero transfer or offensive aroma. Did I mention that it’s also vegan, cruelty-free, 100% organic, and formulated with no synthetic fragrances or palm oil?

This lightweight mousse absorbs super fast, and it’s customizable, too: you can layer it according to how deep of a tan you’re going for.

Keep in mind that since you can’t see where you’ve already applied the product, clear formulas can take a bit of time to get used to. So, if you’re a newbie to self-tanning, consider using a product with guide color — like the Eclipse Tanning Mousse — then, once you’ve mastered how to apply self-tanner, you can try a translucent formula like this one.