Free standard shipping on any $35 purchase

  1. Home
  2. Discover
  3. Product FAQ
  4. The Best Self Tanners for Beginners
yellow and orange gradient background

The Best Self Tanners for Beginners

Bestsellers for Self-Tanning & Bronzing

Self-tanners can be exciting and a little daunting, especially if you're new to them. With so many benefits over traditional sunbathing—like avoiding harmful UV rays and getting an instant glow—it's no wonder more people are turning to this safer alternative. But with various types available, from lotions and mousses to sprays and drops, finding the right one for your skin tone and type might seem overwhelming. Whether you're aiming for a subtle sun-kissed look or a deep tropical tan, we'll guide you through choosing, applying, and maintaining your self-tanner like a pro.

Why Self-Tanners and Bronzers Are Better Than The Real Thing

a bottle of st tropez instant glow foundationGet St. Tropez Instant Glow Makeup

Self-tanners and bronzing makeup both offer a safer alternative to achieving a sun-kissed glow without the risks associated with sun exposure. Unlike traditional tanning methods, self-tanners do not require exposure to harmful UV rays, which can lead to skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. This makes self-tanning a healthier option for those looking to enhance their skin tone. Additionally, self-tanners provide an instant tan that can be customized to match your desired level of darkness, ensuring you get the perfect shade every time.

One major benefit of using self-tanners is the ability to avoid premature aging. Sun exposure can cause wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots, but with self-tanners, you maintain youthful-looking skin while still enjoying a bronzed appearance. Self-tanners are also more convenient than spending hours in the sun or at a tanning bed. You can apply them at home, making it easier to fit into your busy schedule.

Lastly, self-tanners fade gradually and evenly when applied correctly, avoiding the patchy wear-off often seen with natural suntans. By exfoliating before application and moisturizing regularly, you can extend the life of your tan without uneven fading. This makes self-tanning a reliable option for maintaining a consistent and natural-looking tan throughout the year.

Types of Self-Tanners

a bottle of b.tan glow your own way shower gel with hyaluronic acid and vitamin cShop

Understanding the different types of self-tanners is crucial for beginners. Each type offers unique benefits and application methods, catering to various preferences and skin needs. Here's a breakdown of the most common forms you'll encounter:

  1. Lotions: Lotions are perhaps the most traditional form of self-tanners. They are easy to apply, making them great for beginners. The creamy texture helps hydrate the skin, which is beneficial for maintaining an even tan.
  2. Mousses: Mousses offer a lightweight formula that's easier to spread evenly across the skin, reducing the risk of streaks. They dry faster than lotions, ideal for those who don't have much time to wait before getting dressed.

  3. Sprays: Spray tanners are perfect for reaching difficult areas like the back. They provide a quick and even application but require more skill to avoid missing spots.

  4. Drops: Self-tanning drops can be mixed with your regular moisturizer, allowing for a customizable tan intensity. This option is great for those who want control over their tan level and prefer using products already in their skincare routine.

  5. Wipes: Tanning wipes are convenient for touch-ups or on-the-go applications. They're pre-soaked with tanning solution, offering a mess-free option that's easy to carry when traveling.

  6. Serums: Serums are designed for facial use, providing a lighter alternative that can integrate seamlessly into your skincare regimen. They often contain anti-aging or hydrating ingredients, benefiting your complexion while giving you a glow.

Each type has its advantages, whether it's ease of application, hydration benefits, or convenience. By understanding these options, you can choose the best self-tanner that fits your lifestyle and skin care needs, ensuring a beautiful and natural-looking tan without sun exposure risks.

Choosing a Self-Tanner

a set of st.tropez products including gradual tan classicSt. Tropez Gradual Tan

When choosing a self-tanner, it's important to consider your skin type and desired outcome. This will help you select a product that not only gives you the perfect tan but also takes care of your skin. For beginners, navigating through the options might seem tricky, but understanding what each type offers can make the decision easier.

  • For those with dry skin, lotions or mousses enriched with moisturizing ingredients are ideal. They hydrate the skin while providing an even tan, preventing patchiness or flaking. If you're always on the go and need a quick-drying option, mousses are beneficial as they absorb faster, allowing you to dress shortly after application.

  • If reaching hard-to-tan areas like your back is a concern, spray tanners are your best bet. They ensure an even application over these tricky spots without needing assistance. However, mastering the technique to avoid missed spots might take some practice.

  • For individuals seeking a customizable tan intensity or those who prefer incorporating tanning into their skincare routine, self-tanning drops are perfect. You can adjust the number of drops mixed with your moisturizer based on how deep you want your tan to be. This control makes drops suitable for achieving a range of tans from subtle to deep bronze.

  • Lastly, if you're focused on facial tanning and want something that complements your skincare regimen, serums are advisable. They're often formulated with additional skin benefits like anti-aging properties and provide a lighter alternative that won't disrupt your existing skincare products.

By considering these factors and matching them with your needs and lifestyle, you can find a self-tanner that achieves your desired look and fits seamlessly into your beauty routine.

Applying Self Tanner

a woman is applying a tanning mousse to her handGet Sunny Honey by Coco & Eve

Applying self-tanner correctly is key to achieving a natural-looking, streak-free tan.

  1. Before you start, make sure your skin is clean and exfoliated. This removes dead skin cells and provides a smooth surface for application, ensuring an even coverage. Moisturize dry areas such as elbows, knees, and ankles to prevent the tanner from clinging to these spots more than the rest of your body.

  2. Begin with a small amount of product to avoid over-application. It's easier to build up to your desired color than to try and remove excess tanner. Use circular motions to blend the tanner into your skin, which helps avoid streaks. For areas like your back, you might need assistance or use a mitt attached to a stick designed for self-tanning.

  3. Wash your hands immediately after application to avoid orange palms. Wait at least 10 minutes before getting dressed to ensure the tanner doesn't transfer onto your clothes. Wear loose, dark clothing to minimize rubbing and staining.

  4. Consider using products specifically designed for facial skin if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin. These are often lighter in formula and less likely to cause breakouts.

  5. Remember that self-tanners do not contain sunscreen unless stated on the label. Even if you look sun-kissed, you still need protection from UV rays when going outside. Apply sunscreen daily to maintain healthy skin.

  6. To maintain your tan, moisturize daily and reapply self-tanner every few days or as needed. This keeps your tan looking fresh and even. Avoid exfoliating until you're ready to reapply or want to remove the tan, as this will fade the color faster.

By following these steps, you can enjoy a beautiful, sunless tan that looks professional and natural without risking sun damage.

Maintaining Self-Tanner

a bottle of eos shea better 24h moisture body lotionGet Eos Shea Butter 24HR Moisture

After achieving the perfect tan with your chosen self-tanner, maintaining it is crucial for long-lasting results. Moisturizing daily is key to keeping your skin hydrated, which helps preserve the tan's appearance. Use a hydrating lotion that suits your skin type to prevent the tan from fading unevenly.

  • Avoid long, hot showers and baths as they can strip the skin of its natural oils and accelerate the fading process of your tan. Opt for shorter, cooler showers and gently pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it with a towel.

  • Exfoliate only when you're ready to reapply your self-tanner. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells but also fades your tan faster. When it's time to reapply, exfoliate thoroughly to ensure an even base for a fresh application.

  • Swimming in chlorinated pools or salt water can also cause your tan to fade quicker. If you plan on swimming, rinse in water as soon as possible afterward and apply moisturizer to replenish your skin's moisture.

  • Wearing tight clothing can rub against your tan and cause it to wear off prematurely. Choose loose-fitting garments made of soft fabrics to minimize friction and help maintain an even tan.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Hydrated skin retains a self-tan better than dry skin, making your glow last longer.

  • If you notice your tan starting to fade or become patchy, consider using a gradual tanning lotion between full applications. This can help maintain the color's intensity and evenness without starting from scratch.

Remember, while self-tanners give you a bronzed look, they don't protect against UV rays. Continue applying sunscreen daily to protect your skin from sun damage and premature aging.

By following these tips, you can extend the life of your self-tan, ensuring that it fades evenly and naturally over time.

Ulta Beauty Buying Guide

Self-tanning and bronzing products offer a safe and convenient way to achieve a natural-looking tan without the harmful effects of UV rays. These products come in various forms, including foams, mousses, lotions, and sprays, allowing you to choose the application method that works best for you. When selecting a self-tanning or bronzing product, consider factors such as your skin type, desired level of color, and any additional skincare benefits you may be looking for. Look for products that are formulated with hydrating ingredients like aloe vera to keep your skin moisturized and nourished. Additionally, consider whether you want a product that offers instant color or one that gradually develops over time. Finally, don't forget to read reviews and check for any potential allergens or irritants in the product's ingredients list. With the right self-tanning or bronzing product, you can achieve a beautiful, sun-kissed glow all year round. Here are some products we recommend.

  • Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse #1
  • Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse #2
  • Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse #3
  • Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse #4

St. Tropez

Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse

$ 32 .20
Shop Now

Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse is an advanced self tanning product from St. Tropez that provides users with a natural-looking, streak-free and long-lasting tan. It also allows users to choose the depth of their tan in just 1, 2 or 3 hours. Its application is quick and easy, making it perfect for those looking for a fast and efficient way to achieve a beautiful sunless tan. Furthermore, its results are guaranteed to last up to 10 days.

Why People Love This
  • Provides a quick and easy application process that many users find convenient
  • Delivers a natural-looking tan without the harmful effects of sun exposure
  • Offers a customizable tan intensity, allowing users to choose from light, medium, or dark shades
  • Known for its long-lasting effect, maintaining the tan for several days
  • Appreciated for its non-sticky formula, ensuring a comfortable wear throughout the day
  • Has a pleasant scent, unlike other self-tanning products that can have an off-putting smell
  • Praised for its fast-drying formula, making it a hassle-free addition to your beauty routine
  • Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam #1
  • Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam #2
  • Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam #3
  • Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam #4
  • Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam #5
  • Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam #6

Coco & Eve

Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam

$ 30 .40
Shop Now

Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam is a revolutionary self-tanning product that is free of any harmful chemicals. It provides a natural looking tan with no orange tones, streaks or bad smells! It also has anti-ageing and anti-cellulite properties that make it an ideal choice for those looking to enhance their complexion. This product is perfect for anyone looking for a healthy and safe way to get a great tan!

Why People Love This
  • Provides a natural-looking tan that enhances the skin's radiance
  • Formulated with natural ingredients like honey, fig and coconut, which nourish and hydrate the skin
  • The foam texture is easy to apply and blends seamlessly for an even finish
  • Offers long-lasting results, with users reporting their tan lasted for over a week
  • Has a pleasant, non-overpowering scent that leaves the skin smelling fresh
  • Suitable for all skin types, including those with sensitive skin due to its gentle formula
  • Comes in eco-friendly packaging, demonstrating the brand's commitment to sustainability
  • Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse #1
  • Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse #2
  • Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse #3
  • Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse #4

Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse

$ 23 .80
Shop Now

Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse from St. Tropez is a great product for achieving a natural-looking tan with ease. It is tinted, easy-to-apply, and streak-free, and it wears for up to 10 days without any self tan smell. Its formula adapts to your skin tone for a personalized look.

Why People Love This
  • Provides a natural-looking, sun-kissed glow without the harmful UV rays
  • The mousse formula allows for easy application and even coverage
  • Dries quickly, allowing you to dress shortly after application
  • Long-lasting tan that fades evenly and subtly over time
  • Infused with nourishing ingredients to promote a healthy skin
  • Perfect for all skin tones, offering a customizable level of tan
  • Leaves a refreshing scent, unlike many other self-tanners


two women are standing next to each other and smiling at the cameraGet the Gradual Illuminating Tanning Lotion

Can I use self-tanner if I have sensitive skin?

Yes, self-tanners are suitable for sensitive skin, especially if you choose a product specifically designed for sensitivity. Look for tanners labeled hypoallergenic and free from fragrances and harsh chemicals.

How long does it take for a self-tanner to dry?

Drying times vary between products. Mousses and sprays tend to dry within 10 to 20 minutes, while lotions might take a bit longer. It's best to allow at least 10 minutes before getting dressed to ensure the tanner has set.

Is it possible to apply self-tanner without a mitt?

While it's possible to apply a self-tanner without a mitt, using one is recommended to avoid staining your hands and to ensure an even application.

Can I swim after applying a self-tanner?

You should avoid swimming for at least 8 to 12 hours after applying self-tanner to allow the product to fully develop. Chlorine and salt water can cause the tan to fade faster.

How can I remove self-tanner if I make a mistake?

For immediate mistakes, use a damp cloth to gently rub off the product before it sets. For more established tans, exfoliating the skin or using a self-tan remover can help lighten or remove the color.

How often should I reapply self-tanner to maintain my tan?

Reapplication depends on the product and your skin cell turnover rate, but generally, reapplying every 3 to 7 days maintains the tan.

Can I use a face-specific self-tanner on my body?

Yes, you can use face-specific self-tanner on your body, but these products are usually more expensive and might not be as cost-effective as body tanners.

Does self-tanner protect against UV rays?

Self-tanner does not provide protection against UV rays. You need to apply a separate sunscreen product for UV protection.

Will self-tanner stain my clothes or sheets?

Self-tanner can stain if it hasn't fully dried before you get dressed or go to bed. Use dark, loose-fitting clothes and wait until the tanner is dry to minimize staining.

How do I choose the right shade of self-tanner?

Choose a shade based on your natural skin tone and desired outcome. If you're light-skinned, start with a lighter shade to avoid an unnatural look. For darker skin tones, a deeper shade can enhance the natural glow.

Related Products

  • Self-Tanning Mist Travel Size
    Self-Tanning Mist Travel Size
  • Sunny Honey Soft Velvet Self Tan Mitt
    Sunny Honey Soft Velvet Self Tan Mitt
  • Deluxe Self Tanning Applicator Mitt
    Deluxe Self Tanning Applicator Mitt
  • After Browning Lotion Tan Enhancer and Healer
    After Browning Lotion Tan Enhancer and Healer
  • Salon Quality Self Tanning Foam
    Salon Quality Self Tanning Foam
  • Travel Size Self Tanning Foam Dark
    Travel Size Self Tanning Foam Dark
  • Deluxe Bronzing Mousse
    Deluxe Bronzing Mousse
  • Platinum Ultimate Self Tanning Mousse
    Platinum Ultimate Self Tanning Mousse
  • D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops
    D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops
  • Luxe Double Sided Applicator Mitt
    Luxe Double Sided Applicator Mitt
  • 2 HR Express Self Tanning Mousse Dark
    2 HR Express Self Tanning Mousse Dark
  • Antioxidant Face Tanning Micromist
    Antioxidant Face Tanning Micromist
  • LUSSO Self-Tanning Mousse Travel Size
    LUSSO Self-Tanning Mousse Travel Size
  • 2 HR Express Self Tanning Mousse Ultra Dark
    2 HR Express Self Tanning Mousse Ultra Dark

The content on this page is generated using artificial intelligence. The information provided may be inaccurate and/or incomplete and any decisions you make based on the information found on this website are entirely at your discretion. Do not rely on any information generated as medical advice. If you have medical questions, please consult a doctor. The content of this page is subject to our Terms and Conditions and our Privacy Policy .