5 Sunless Tanners to Keep Your Summer Glow Going

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I’m not much of a tanner. My father calls my skin tone “clear,” if that’s any indication of how melanin-challenged my complexion is. So, when faced with a box of sunless tanners to test for this story, I was nervous—not the feeling I usually get when tasked with trying out beauty products! Would I be covered in streaks or compared to an Oompa-Loompa? And what about the infamous smell? But I rolled up my sleeves, ignoring my blindingly white forearms, and got to work. Here are my favorite products I tried, plus some application tips I learned along the way. 

Pre-Tan Prep

By now, most everyone is aware of the pre-tan mantra: exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. Don’t skip this step! It helps the product go on smoothly and keeps it from clinging to dead skin cells. The Clarisonic Plus has a body brush attachment that gives an ultra-thorough cleansing. If you want to help flush out toxins and reduce cellulite, you can try a natural-bristle brush and try dry-brushing. Just stay away from any shower scrubs that leave an oily residue—they might compromise the a sunless tanner’s formula. Most importantly, moisturize rough spots like elbows, knees, and ankles to prevent them from getting too dark. 

I also recommend getting a tanning mitt prior to application (I used St. Tropez's). It really helps to evenly spread the solution, making it look more natural.

Sunless Tanner Product Picks

St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse

I prefer this product to St. Tropez’s Bronzing Gel, which was more difficult to apply and dried in streaks. The mousse version is foam-based, which means it goes on really easily and spread evenly. And it smells good—according to the brand its “Aromaguard” technology helps reduce the typical self-tan stench by at least 70%.

bareMinerals Faux Tan

This lotion-like formula gave good coverage and an instant glow; even when I applied it haphazardly before bed I still woke up with a nice color. The face version is just as good, too!

LORAC TANtalizer Body Bronzing Luminizer

It’s quick-drying, transfer-resistant (a loofah scrub-down in the shower was necessary to remove the color!), and has good-for-you ingredients like acai, pomegranate, and vitamins A and E. It gives you an instant matte tan that looks airbrushed, and reduces the visibility of cellulite, bruises, and spider veins.

Sephora Tinted Self-Tanning Body Spray

My favorite of the bunch, the spray-on application couldn’t have been easier! It’s smart to follow up with a once-over with your mitt, just to be sure that it’s even. Touch-ups are easy, it smells delicious, and because it has some glycerin, it left my skin nicely moisturized.

Jergens Natural Glow + Firming Daily Moisturizer

Jergens recently debuted a reformulated version of their best-selling Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer. Not only does it have the added firming boost, it also has a much more pleasant scent than the original (the new one is meant to be odorless). You apply it daily to layer on color gradually, so it’s virtually mistake-proof.

What’s your favorite sunless tanning product? Tell us in the comments!

Photo: Athit Perawongmetha / FLICKR