Over the last year, I’ve tried several new self-tanning products. If you haven’t yet, read my self-tanning tips. As I mentioned in that post, I self-tan at home on a regular basis. Having the right products to apply and then refresh makes my routine easier. There are a few popular formulas that make my skin itch. Or that cost a pretty penny that I’m not sure is worth it. So, I made it my mission to find the best self-tanner. Read on to see my current recommendations!
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Mousse: I prefer a mousse but the downside is that most formulas usually take 4+ hours to develop. I actually do like a color guard which means the mousse has a slight tint so you can see where you’ve applied it. Even though it can be messy, it gives me more control and I tend to have fewer mistakes. St. Tropez Classic is my go-to. I like that it develops based on your skin tone.
A few months ago I started using Isle of Paradise Express Ultra Dark Mousse because I wanted a formula that developed more quickly. It can be rinsed off between 1 and 4 hours depending on how deep you want the color to be. I used to shy away from dark formulas, but I actually really like it! This past week I started using Tanologist 1 Hour Express Tan Extra Dark Self Tan Mousse as a cheaper alternative to the Isle of Paradise Ultra Dark. So far, I really like it. I don’t think either of them gives me the color I want after 1 hour, but waiting 3 or 4 hours isn’t so bad! Lately, I apply it during lunch and rinse it when I’m done working – perk of that WFH life, haha.
Water-Based: This is a clear formula that is meant to be more hydrating. Because it’s clear, there is no color guard. It can be tricky when applying since you can’t see if you missed any spots. But, not having a color guard means there is no color to transfer onto clothes or sheets making it a great option if you like to apply before bed. I really liked the color that developed from Isle of Paradise Glow Clear in medium/green. It applied well and I didn’t have too many issues when I applied carefully. I also got good results from St. Tropez Purity Gel. I love that it dries fast and develops in 3 hours. It gives a nice natural glow.
Drops: I purchased the Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops because they sounded easy to use. You mix them with your normal lotion and they don’t have that classic fake tan smell! I sometimes use these drops to touch up my body mid-week, but I prefer these for my face. A little goes a long way, I only need one drop of the medium/green formula for my face to get a golden glow. I shared Tanologist Face + Body Drops as a “drugstore” version of the drops on my Instagram. Head there for more tips.
Daily Lotion: As I mentioned in my tanning tips post, a daily lotion is a huge help in extending your self-tan. Ulta Bronze Glow Tinted Lotion gives instant color and builds gradually. It does have a noticeable scent to it, though. St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Lotion is very hydrating and builds color with multiple uses. I also got Tanologist Gradual Tan Lotion last week and am impressed so far. I didn’t notice a scent. Moisture is key to making a tan last. You want a lotion that moisturizes well and doesn’t contain any kind of exfoliant that will strip your tan. You don’t have to use one that adds color to maintain but I think it helps, especially in areas that fade quickly, like my neck.
Remover: I shared self-tan remover on my Instagram a couple of weeks ago and learned that a lot of you have never heard of it. St. Tropez Tan Remover works wonders! This Fading Mousse from Ulta also does the trick! You just have to wait 3 days for it to be effective. Sometimes, body scrub and a loofah or exfoliating mitt are enough to remove lingering remnants. I’ve also had luck micellar water and a cotton ball to get the last bits of self-tan off.
Which to Use?
How do I decide which product to use? If I’m going to apply before bed but don’t have a lot of time I typically choose a mousse with a color guard. That way I can see where I’m applying and am less likely to make mistakes or miss any spots. When I can see where I’m going with the product I can move more quickly.
If I want some color for the same day I typically choose a product without a color guard. They don’t need to be rinsed like those with the color guard so I can apply and go. For example, the Purity Gel, Bronze Glow lotion, or the Tanning drops work well when I notice that my neck has faded or is starting to look a little patchy but I’m getting ready for work. Just be aware that the tinted lotion can rub off on clothes/shoes.
Different products work better for different people/skin. So, I wanted to include different brands that I’ve had success with over the years. If you’re new to self-tanning or just looking for a new product – I hope you find one that works for you!
I don’t need any more self-tanner but with so many new kinds available I just had to test them! All in the name of the blog, lol. I just got a couple of products to try last week. Which is why it took me so long to get this post published, I wanted to include everything I was trying. But, summer is ending soon *cries* and we’ll be inside more which means more of us will be self-tanning regularly again. So, I wanted to be sure to share my current faves and will continue to update as I try new things. Because we all know I can’t stop. 🙂
Thanks so much for reading!
Have you tried any of these self-tanning products?