Summer Skin Care

The Best Self Tanners for When You Haven’t Seen Actual Sunshine in Months

Zoe Weiner

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Self tanner is not an easy friend to make. Between the streaks and the smell, it’s enough to shirk dermatologists pleas to “stay out of the sun!” and hit the beach for a bit of extra bronze. (In case you need motivation not to do that: A friendly reminder that 90 percent of the signs of aging come from the sun’s rays). But now that any of our planned outdoor activities (and, sigh, vacations) are cancelled for the foreseeable future, there’s never been a better time to embrace the art of the faux glow. The good news? There’s a whole new class of products that do away with all of the old annoyances associated with faking a tan from our bathrooms.

Whether you’re looking for an instant bronze or something that will deepen your skin tone over time, these seven best-of-the best self tanners have you covered. And we *promise* you won’t be walking around smelling like an early-aughts tanning salon (… remember those?). Or looking like an uneven Oompa Loompa.

The best self tanners for every need

Easiest to apply: St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mist, $35

Photo: St. Tropez

The most frustrating thing about using self tanner has always been the weird, orange streaks most products leave behind. With this spray, you’ll get none of that. It goes on in a fine mist, giving skin an even, airbrushed finish that will bronze you up in a single spritz.

Best natural glow: Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops, $29

Photo: Isle of Paradise

These drops are formulated with color-correcting technology, which means that they’ll even your skin tone while deepening it a shade or two. All you have to do is mix them with your moisturizer (they work for you face and body!), and watch your complexion change color over time.

Best for in shower: Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer, $9

Photo: Jergens

There’s a reason why the OG Jergens has constantly topped the list of the best self tanners (and at a drugstore price, no less).  Fake an instant tan before you even step out of the shower with this lotion, which is meant to be used on wet skin. It blends with water to hydrate skin, and locks in moisture for a subtle glow that won’t look dry.

Best with skin care: Alpha Beta® Intense Glow Pad Self-Tanner for Face, $28

Photo: Dr. Dennis Gross

Our editors swear by the OG version of these peel pads for sloughing off dead skin cells, and this bronzer-infused version will do you one better. They’re made with active vitamin D, microencapsulated DHA, and soy proteins to deliver natural-looking color (with no streaks or odor), and will allow the bronze to penetrate more deeply thanks to the exfoliation they provide.

Best on-the-go: Vita Liberata Phenomenal Organic Tan Infused Cloths, $39

Photo: Vita Liberata

Need a quick bronze? Grab one of these cloths, which are biodegradable and infuse skin with both hydration and a colorless, gradual tan.

Best for one day only (body edition): NARS Monoi Body Glow I, $59

Photo: NARS

For a sunless tan that you can wash off in the shower, slather on this glow-inducing body oil. With the fragrant monoi flower at its center, you’ll slather on this serum that leaves behind a golden-hour shimmer, and dream of tropical waters.

Best for one day only (face edition): Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops, $36

Photo: Drunk Elephant

This stuff is like sunshine in a bottle. Mix a few drops of the anti-pollution bronzing serum in with your moisturizer, and you’ll be left looking like you just stepped off of the beach… without any of the sun damage that comes along with it. And you can wash it away at the bathroom sink before hitting the sack.

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