I've Tried a Ton of Self-Tanners—These 3 Are My Favorites

August 8th, 2018 at 5:00am

With summer in full swing now, it seems as though everyone’s winter skin has disappeared and sunkissed tans are here to stay (until next winter of course). But as a woman with ultra pale skin who recognizes the danger of the sun’s rays, I do my best to minimize damage to my skin by steering clear of sunlight.

Because I love the bronzed look that always seems to elude me, I decided to test out some alternative ways to achieve it that didn’t involve sitting by the pool. I was curious to see if the self-tanning products I’ve heard about for years would actually work as they’re advertised, so I tried as many as I could this summer to see which ones appeared natural and which ones were a flop. Luckily, I found a few that delivered the results I was looking for. Keep scrolling to see which ones are actually worth trying yourself.

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer

I first tried this lotion in eighth grade after hearing countless reviews that this was the best for those with fair skin, yet I remember turning a horrendous orange color. I figured that over the years, the formula had to have changed and I should give it a go once again. In order to not have history repeat itself, I applied a medium-sized amount on my upper thigh and let it sit overnight to see what the results would be after a 6-8 hour period.

The pros: Application was easy, and the lotion wasn’t too thick or too watery. It also had a nice scent to it and reminded me of regular suntan lotion. When I woke up the next morning, my skin appeared more tan, so the results were fast.

The cons: Although my skin did appear less pale, it had a slightly orange tint. The directions recommended applying over a period of multiple days, which I refrained from because I knew after multiple applications, my skin would have definitely looked more oompa loompa than sunkissed.

Grade: B+

Neutrogena Build-A-Tan Gradual Sunless Tan Lotion

I have always been a fan of Neutrogena products because they are great for those with sensitive skin, myself included. When I found out they had a self-tanner, I knew I had to try it for myself. Like the Jergens lotion, I applied a good amount on my upper thigh and let it sit overnight.

The pros: Application was easy, and the lotion had a nice texture to it and felt nice on my skin—not too heavy. Plus, I already had results when I woke up the next morning. The tone blended better with my skin, making it look more natural.

The cons: When I woke up, I could tell where the lotion was applied, but it was not as dark after the six- to eight-hour period. It would definitely take multiple days of application to reach the color I was looking for. Although the tone blended better with my skin, it did have a slightly yellowish tint to it, which I wasn’t a big fan of.

Grade: B-

TanTowel Body Tan Towelettes

After the previous two lotions did not give me the results I desired, I expressed frustration to my esthetician and she recommended TanTowel’s self-tanning towelettes. They look like normal wet wipes except they smell like strong tanning lotion. As instructed, I wiped my body with the towelettes, starting with my feet, and worked my way up to the top of my body. Although the wipe was wet, I didn’t feel any stickiness at all and waited to see what would happen overnight.

The pros: When I woke up the next morning, I was in shock that I had the “perfect” tan I was looking for. My skin did not look orange at all. Also, I was left with a subtle suntan lotion scent on my body, which I liked. Once you do get the hang of the application process, it goes by pretty fast—less than five minutes.

The cons: Application is somewhat difficult and you do have to keep practicing because the first time will not be perfect. I found that wherever you apply first is going to have the strongest pigment and it will show if you miss a spot.

Grade: A-

What are your favorite self-tanners? Let us know in the comments below!

Opening image by Laura Craffey.