Let’s talk about self-tanner. Today’s formulas won’t leave you looking orange or unnatural, and better yet, there’s a self-tanner formula for just about every situation you could imagine. Using a self-tanning lotion or spray can help you get bronzed, glowing color without stepping foot outside. But choosing the best self-tanner to use in your skin care routine can be a difficult decision. For example, if you get dry skin and use the wrong type of self-tanner, it could come out blotchy. Or, if you know you’re going to be traveling or on the go, certain self-tanners may be a better fit than others. Instead of selecting one on a whim, follow this guide to make sure you’re using the best self-tanner for every situation in 2020.
THE BEST SELF-TANNER FOR…USING RIGHT BEFORE BED
If you’ve ever woken up to self-tanner stained sheets, you know how annoying it is! Not to mention discouraging since you've surely spent time and effort applying the self-tanner in the first place. So, what is the best self-tanner to use before bed? If you’re unable to switch up the time of day you apply your self-tanner, switch to a formula that applies invisibly on skin and also absorbs quickly, making it less likely to transfer onto your sheets while you sleep.
The L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse is lightweight and has a clear formula that develops into a beautiful tan four to eight hours after you apply it—just in time for you to wake up as a bronzed beauty. It’s no wonder it’s first on this list of our best self-tanners for 2020!
How to use it: First off, shake the bottle well. Next, after cleansing and exfoliating your skin, deposit a few pumps of self-tanner into the palm of your hand and smooth the product evenly over your skin. Take caution not to shower or get your skin wet until at least eight hours after application, and if you’re not using a tanning mitt or gloves, be sure to also wash your hands thoroughly after applying.
THE BEST SELF-TANNER FOR…FALL OR WINTER
Summer may not be here, but that doesn't mean you can't rock a beautiful, bronzed glow all year. Of course, it’s not always easy to know how to stay tan during the winter. Since we all tend to get paler during the colder seasons and dry skin is also at its peak during winter, it’s a good idea to look for a self-tanner that is both gradual and hydrating, such as the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Milk Medium. In addition to delivering an even bronzed look that you can gradually build up to your desired level of tan, this self-tanner is formulated to also nourish and soften the skin, making it the best self-tanner for the dry fall and winter months.
How to use it: After cleansing and exfoliating your skin, apply an oil-free moisturizer to any dry areas. Spread the tanning lotion all over your body, using sparingly on your ankles, knees, and elbows. Wash your hands after use and allow your skin to dry before putting on makeup or clothes. Use daily until you’ve reached your desired tan, then use one to two times each week to maintain your color.
THE BEST SELF-TANNER FOR…SUMMERTIME
Ah, sweet summertime. During the warmest months of the year, even the palest among us may be able to catch a tan. If not, there are plenty of ways to fake it! Since we all tend to want a deeper color during the summer months, reach for a self-tanner that provides a medium to deep tan, like the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-Tanning Lotion Medium Natural Tan or the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-Tanning Lotion Deep Natural Tan. Both of these tinted self-tanners offer instant shimmer—perfect for showing off a little skin this summer—and a tan that develops over time. Bonus: They’re formulated with vitamin E and help keep skin smooth and soft.
How to use it: Before you reach for either of these self-tanning lotions, you’ll want to cleanse and exfoliate your skin and apply a moisturizer onto any dry areas. Next, simply apply to your skin just as you would any other type of body lotion, with one big difference: apply the formula sparingly on dry areas like elbows and knees. This instant-bronze formula allows you to see the color as you apply it, making it easier to achieve an even coat of self-tanner. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward, and you're good to go.
THE BEST SELF-TANNER FOR…ON THE GO
Do you really want to apply a self-tanning lotion when you’re in a rush? That could very well end in a mess. For those perpetually on the move, it’s a good idea to stick with self-tanning towelettes or wipes, which can help keep the mess and the streaks to a minimum. We love the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze™ Towelettes for Body; the convenient single-use wipes are perfect for travel or use at the beach. The unique self-tanning formula applies easily and dries quickly for a smooth, natural-looking tan.
How to use it: Cleanse and exfoliate your skin, then smooth a towelette over your body. Use it sparingly around your ankles, knees, and elbows. Wash your hands after use and allow your skin to dry before putting on makeup or clothes. Use every day until you’ve reached your desired tan, then use one to two times each week to maintain your color.
THE BEST SELF-TANNER FOR…A WARM-WEATHER VACATION
There’s never a bad time to treat yourself to a sunless tan—vacation included. Anytime you’re getting ready to jet out on a holiday—especially to a warm or tropical climate—consider adding a self-tanner to your pre-vacation checklist. When picking the best self-tanner for your trip (staycations count too!), why not try a different texture? Instead of sticking with the lotions and creams you’re used to, grab the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze™ Self-Tanning Serum. This quick-dry, streak-free product offers long-lasting color and can be used on both your body and your face.
How to use it: Pump the serum directly into the palms of your hands and spread evenly over your face. Wash your hands once you’ve finished, and be sure to allow skin to dry completely before putting on makeup or clothes. Use consistently for three consecutive days to achieve a lasting fake tan.
THE BEST SELF-TANNER FOR…TANNING ALONE
If you’ve ever struggled to tan those hard to reach spots, you know it’s helpful to have a friend on hand. After all, what are friends for if not helping to apply self-tanner to the center of your back? When you don’t have a helping hand nearby, self-tanning can be trickier. Your best bet for being able to tan your entire body—without contorting yourself into crazy positions—is to use a spray formula. Spraying on your self-tanner requires less flexibility, making it perfect for friendless occasions. The L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze™ ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist Medium Natural Tan has a 360° wide angle jet applicator that provides continuous coverage for a natural-looking tan. The super-fine mist applies evenly and dries quickly with no need to rub in—making it easy to tan totally solo.
How to use it: After cleansing and exfoliating your skin, apply an oil-free moisturizer to any dry areas. Spray the mist slowly and continuously at arm’s length without rubbing it in. Let your skin dry completely before putting on makeup or clothes. Use daily until you’ve reached your desired level of tan, then use one to two times each week to maintain your color.
Now that you know how to choose the best self-tanner for your situation, check out our article on 10 Self-Tanner Mistakes You Could Be Making.