The BEST Self-Tanners – and Which One You Need to Buy!

Self Tanner Review

Every fall, I get so excited for the cool weather to come back… until I realize my summer tan is long gone. While I love cozying up in warm sweaters and trading my shorts for jeans, I don’t love losing the glow I’ve developed over the past few months. I’m sure you’ve felt this way before!

This year, there’s no need to worry. I’ve tried all the best self-tanners on the market so you don’t have to, and I’m sharing which one you need to maintain a healthy golden glow this fall!

My Skin History

I have always loved the sun. When I was a teen, I would lay out for hours by the pool until I had achieved what I thought was the “perfect” tan, until I saw how dark my friends were and had to catch up! It was a vicious cycle of laying out, taking a break and then wishing I were darker. Not only was I never satisfied; I also did some serious damage to my skin (most of which I won’t even pay for until the later years of my life).

Skin cancer, or “melanoma”, is something that I never thought concerned me as a teen. However, an estimated 9,730 people will die of melanoma in 2017, and a person’s risk of developing this cancer doubles if they have experienced more than five sunburns. Crazy, right?

At 16 years old, I visited a dermatologist with my mum and realized how important it is to make healthy choices for your skin TODAY. It doesn’t matter how old you are — skin cancer is something that we should all consider when choosing to lay in the sun, skip the sunscreen or visit the tanning salon. That’s why I made the decision to spend less time laying by a pool and switch to self-tanner. My skin has thanked me ever since!

Self-Tanning: A Healthier Glow

Self-tanning is by far the healthier option for your skin if you’re hoping to achieve a natural-looking glow. While “looking orange” and having streaky skin are common fears I hear from girls who are apprehensive to make the switch, finding the right self-tanner and applying it properly can help you avoid all these problems. In fact, regardless of the tan you choose, proper application is still the most important step!

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my self-tanning days, it’s that these steps always need to be followed:

    1. EXFOLIATE.

Whether or not you have dry skin, exfoliation is crucial to achieving an even-looking tan. Self-tanner will sink into any dry skin on your body (commonly your knees, elbows and ankles), and this can be avoided by using a shower scrub or loofah beforehand.

    2. MOISTURIZE.

While it’s important to wait until your skin is fully dry before applying your self-tanner, I always recommend lathering up with an oil-free moisturizer beforehand. This will ensure you’ve caught any dry patches before your self-tanner does!

    3. USE A MITT.

If there’s anything you should take away from these steps, it’s this… USE A MITT. My goodness. I spent years applying self tanner with my bare hands and walking around with crazy orange fingers. Not only will using a mitt help you avoid this embarrassment, it will also help you achieve the streak-free tan you’re looking for.

    4. TAKE YOUR TIME.

The last piece of advice I have to offer is to take your time. No matter what self-tanner you use (or how fast the bottle promises it will dry), take the time to apply the tan properly and let it soak in before you move on. Typically, I apply self-tanner at night and give it 15-20 minutes to dry before putting on my PJ’s and heading to sleep. Putting your clothes on too early or getting wet can ruin the work you’ve put into applying an even tan.

Now that you’ve learned (from my mistakes!) some of the steps to applying your tan properly, you’re ready to find out which product is right for you!

Review #1: Fake Bake Self-Tan Liquid and Professional Mitt

Fake Bake Review

Y’all, I don’t have enough good things to say about this product. This was the first store-bought “spray” tan I had ever used, and I was seriously impressed with the results.

When you order Fake Bake, you’ll receive a purple box that includes a 170ml liquid spray bottle, a free mitt for application and two purple gloves to keep your fingers clean. When I first tried this product, I had only ever used lotion-based self-tanners and I automatically worried that the spray would come out dark and streaky. I was so wrong! To use Fake Bake, you simply spray the tan onto the mitt and work it into your skin in circular motions from the bottom up. The result? An even, glowy tan that looks incredibly natural. The first time I applied it, I received tons of compliments and questions about the product I used.

The box describes the Fake Bake scent as “tropical”, and it’s honestly one of the only fake-tan smells I have loved. It’s hard to find a scent that isn’t overbearing, and this brand has figured it out. The scent is light, fruity and doesn’t linger beyond a few minutes after application.

Fake Bake is 100% buildable if you are hoping to develop a glow over time. With its DHA formula, your tan will set-in over the hours following your application; so don’t go crazy if you don’t see your ideal bronze right away. Instead, let the product work its magic and re-apply when you’ve seen the final results!

Fake Bake is right for you if:

  1. You are looking for a medium-dark tan.
  2. You want a product that is buildable.
  3. You want a product with a light scent.
  4. You want a product that is affordable & long-lasting.
  5. You don’t mind waiting 10-15 minutes for your tan to set.

Review #2: St. Tropez In-Shower Gradual Tan Lotion

St. Tropez In Shower Tan Review

When I saw the name of this product, I couldn’t believe it either: an in-shower gradual tan?! Sign me up!

Personally, one of the biggest setbacks in using fake tanner is the time it takes for the product to dry, and the fact that I could finish tanning while still in the shower was a huge sell for me when purchasing this product.

When you buy this product from St. Tropez, you’ll receive a sleek 200ml bottle with an easy-to-use cap. To use this tanner, simply shut off the water in the shower (and while you’re still wet), apply a generous amount in circular motions to achieve full coverage. While out-of-shower products work best with a mitt, this product can be applied with your hands. Once you’ve applied the product evenly, wait for three minutes while it sets in and then fully rinse off with warm water. This product is DHA based, so your glow will develop over consecutive use. After 3-4 uses of St. Tropez, I noticed a medium, streak-free tan and an improvement to the overall smoothness of my skin. While it does take more time to achieve a golden tan using this product, the fact that it requires no drying time outside of the shower makes it worth it!

On the downside, I did notice that the scent of this product was a little stronger than I prefer (honestly, the only thing I can compare it to is moth balls). While it’s not overwhelming, it may irritate you if you are easily bothered by scent. Another thing to consider is that this product runs out fairly quickly. You need to apply a generous amount to achieve full coverage, and reaching a medium tan requires frequent use. If convenience outweighs price for you, this product is the perfect fit!

St. Tropez In-Shower Gradual Tan Lotion is right for you if:

  1. You are looking for a light-medium tan.
  2. You want a product that is buildable.
  3. You don’t want to wait for your tan to dry.
  4. You don’t mind spending a little more on your self-tanner.
  5. You aren’t easily irritated by scent.
  6. You value convenience.

Review #3: Rodan + Fields Essentials: Foaming Sunless Tan

Rodan + Fields Gradual Tan Review

I had actually never heard of Rodan + Fields until a friend of mine sent me their sunless tan to test this summer, and I was blown away by the quality!

This product comes in a 125 ml bottle with a pump to release a mousse that is oil-free and extremely lightweight. Unlike the previous products, Rodan + Fields sunless tanner is not DHA based – it’s designed using the brand’s unique RF-Dcell technology, and it’s packed with vitamins C & E. To apply the product, I would recommend pumping the mouse onto a self-tanning mitt and massaging it into the skin in circular motions, working from the bottom up.

After my first use, I was impressed with how thin the mousse felt on my skin. Following full-body application, the product still felt lightweight and airy! When I woke up the next day, I had an incredible, natural looking tan. I had honestly never seen a self-tan create a deep glow so evenly and quickly over night. While I typically like to build my tan gradually, I didn’t need to when using Rodan + Fields. After one use, I had the tan that I was hoping for, and didn’t need to re-apply for another 8 days.

There were a couple of downsides to this product, though. The bottle advertises a fast-drying formula, but it did take between 30-40 minutes to dry and left a slightly sticky feeling on my skin. It also has a fairly strong citrus scent, which may irritate those who are sensitive. However, if you are looking to achieve a long-lasting tan in one-go, this product is worth the drying time!

Rodan + Fields Foaming Sunless Tan is right for you if:

  1. You are looking for a deep tan.
  2. You want the benefits of a dual-action tanner that promotes healthy skin.
  3. You don’t want to spend time building your tan.
  4. You don’t mind taking the time to let your tan dry.
  5. You aren’t easily irritated by scent.
  6. You want a tan that is long-lasting.

Well, friends, until I’ve tried more of the self-tanners that are on the market, that’s all that I have for now. I hope that this guide was educational and helpful in supporting your search for the perfect self-tanner this fall. Your skin will thank you for making healthy choices, and you will have a beautiful, long-lasting glow!

If you choose to purchase any of these products, I would love to hear about your experience! 🙂

You can shop these self-tanners here:

Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tan Liquid & Professional Mitt, 170 ml / 6 Oz – $31.80 CAD, Amazon

St. Tropez Tanning Essentials: In Show Gradual Tan – $35.00 CAD, Sephora

Rodan + Fields Essentials: Foaming Sunless Tan – $26.00 USD, Rodan + Fields
-Beth xo

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