If you’re looking to achieve a sun-kissed glow without the harmful effects of the sun, self tanners are the way to do it. The best drugstore self tanners are easy to apply and will help you to achieve a natural-looking tan. Self tanners come in a variety of formats, though, so you’ll want to pick the type of product that best suits your needs.
Tanning lotions and mousses are both rubbed into skin, which makes application pretty intuitive. Some self tanner lotions allow you to achieve a tan gradually over the course of several days. These products usually have a lower concentration of dihydroxyacetone, the active ingredient in self tanners. Mousses, on the other hand, tend to be thicker and may give you a darker tan as a result.
Self tanners also come in the form of a spray, which is dispensed from the can right onto your skin. Self tanner sprays are ideal for those hard-to-reach spots like your back. And they cover a larger area at once, so some find that they are more foolproof. Tanning wipes are also pretty quick and easy to apply and are individually wrapped for one-time use. However, they can be pricey.
Most lotions, mousses, sprays, and wipes can be great choices for tanning your body, but if you’re looking to use a self tanner on your face, be sure to choose a product that is specifically designed for use on that part of the body. These products tend to have lighter formulas.
These five drugstore self tanners are favorites on Amazon. This list includes a variety of application types, but the end result is the same — a flawless, just-got-back-from-vacation glow.
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1. A Lotion Self Tanner
This L’Oréal Paris self tanning lotion will help you achieve a streak-free tan with ease. Prep by exfoliating, then rub the lotion onto your skin, and two to four hours later you’ll have a golden glow. As always, don't forget to wash your hands after application. L'Oréal recommends daily use until you've achieved your desired tan level, then suggests you switch to a few times a week. The lotion has a subtle shimmer and is even formulated with vitamin E and AHAs to leave your skin feeling unbelievably soft.
Choose from two shades — deep natural tan or light medium tan — and buy in a pack of one or two.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I have tried other more expensive self-tanners, but I keep coming back to this L'Oreal product. This time I will stay with L'Oreal. I use the tanner for my lower legs every other day and in the past have used it for my arms. It's easy to apply, has very little scent, and dries quickly. I am very fair and this bronze color is perfect for me."
2. A Self Tanner Moisturizer For A Gradual Glow
This Jergens Natural Glow moisturizer works gradually to help you achieve a flawless tan, enhancing and deepening your natural skin tone. Rub the lotion onto your skin daily, and within a couple of days, you’ll notice the color begin to develop. Full results happen in about one week. To maintain your tan, use the lotion every other day.
With more than 2,500 reviews on Amazon and a solid 4.5-star rating overall, reviewers love the fact that this product also has skin-benefitting ingredients. Antioxidants and coconut water provide hydration, while collagen firms the skin.
The lotion has a light and fresh scent, and it's available in two shades: light to medium and medium to tan.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I've tried a lot of different tanners and this one works great and is easy to use as its also a moisturizing lotion so I get both jobs done at one time. The color is natural and never streaky. It is my go-to."
3. A Spray Self Tanner
Self tanner sprays are easy to apply and great for those hard-to-reach areas. And this one from Banana Boat is highly adored on Amazon for those exact reasons. The self tanner can literally be sprayed at any angle, it covers a wide area of the body at once, and it’s super quick-drying, too. Color will develop in two to three hours, and it will last up to a week.
The Banana Boat spray is oil-free, ideal for all skin tones, and has a lovely fresh citrus scent. According to users, it doesn't have glitter, so if you're looking for a tan without shimmer, this is for you.
The Banana Boat self tanner is also available in a lotion formulation if you'd prefer.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This is the best spray self tanner I've used and I've tried tons of them! [...] I've tanned and used self tanners for about 15 years so I've tried many products. This is my favorite self tanner because it provides even color, has a constant stream at any direction, and is by far the best smelling self tanner (my fiance doesn't even notice)! I also love the price. I use this product a few times each week and am set up for monthly delivery, which works out perfectly."
4. A Pack Of Self Tanner Wipes
These L’Oréal self tanner wipes are extremely convenient; each individually packaged wipe contains enough self tanner for one application. Open up the package, use the wipe on the desired areas of your body, and within two to four hours you’ll have a natural-looking, streak-free glow. Use the wipes daily until you have achieved your desired tan. To maintain it, use the wipes one to two times a week.
The self tanner is formulated with vitamin E and AHAs, which make your skin feel amazingly soft and smooth. These wipes only come in one shade — medium.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I love these.. first time using one got a nice light tan look.. so helpful for legs, arms for wearing my summer capris etc.. only need to use every few days and one towelette plenty for all over one application.. very easy to use and had no streaking! Getting ready to order more!"
5. A Gradual Self Tanner Designed Specifically For The Face
With more than 1,700 reviews on Amazon and a solid 4.4-star rating overall, reviewers love that this Jergens Natural Glow face lotion helps them to gradually achieve a natural-looking tan. Rub the lotion onto your face as part of your daily routine, and soon you'll have a sun-kissed glow.
This pick is oil-free, super hydrating, and even contains sunscreen (SPF 20). The product is fresh scented and can be worn under makeup, if desired.
This pick comes in two shades: fair to medium and medium to tan. It also comes in a few different formats.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Best facial tanning lotion I have used so far. Non-comedogenic is really important since I have sensitive skin. There is a minimal odor. The color is very realistic. Highly recommended."