1. Nature’s Gate Glow Lotion $14: Years ago Nature’s Gate sent me a sample of this to try and I’ve been loyal to it ever since. It’s a paraben-free natural formula (4 on CosmeticsDatabase.com) and gives such warm, realistic color often in just one application although it’s technically a ‘gradual’ lotion meant to build with daily use. Grab the medium even if you’re really fair, it’s good to err on the deeper side and you can’t overdo it with this formula. I’m not that careful applying it because somehow it melts together in a blanket of even coverage. There isn’t a scent to it whatsoever and the tan lasts and lasts. I’ll use it a few days in a row, then not again for another week or so and it will barely even fade. It’s one of those extra steps that doesn’t feel like one at all because it’s so easy to use.
2. L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Airbrush Mist $12: If you’ve never had much luck with lotions, give this spray a try. Hold it at an arm’s length from your body and spray its fine mist (I do it while standing in the shower just to make sure the spray is contained and doesn’t get on walls or the floor) from head to toe. You’ll be surprised how such a small amount of product can give such big results. When layered a few days in a row using the darkest shade you can get a pretty deep tan that only needs to be re-applied once a week or so for maintenance. The spray dries instantly so there’s no waiting around to get dressed and you can have your whole body quickly covered in no time. It’s by far the easiest to apply of the bunch and keeps your hands totally clean.
3. Hawaiian Tropic Island Radiance Self Tanning Lotion $11: I have a friend who would buy these 4 at a time because they were always sold out at Ulta (the only store where it was stocked near us.) I understand why, the creamy formula is great for dry skin so it has a natural looking fade like a real tan, and not into dry patches like some formulas do. If your tanner usually collects darker around knees, elbows, and other dryer spots, this creme will coat those areas with moisture giving you a more even look. I love the deep color so much and only have to use it once a week to maintain a deep, warm glow. It has a light sent, but it’s fresh and not like the usual lingering self tanner scent and it doesn’t rub off even when you sweat.
4. tarte Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Face And Body Self Tanner $19: As you’d expect this tanner acts the most like skincare, it’s an elegant gel (that’s safe to use on your face too!) free from parabens, sulfates, and phthalates infused with tarte’s signature Maracuja oil which leaves skin feeling really soft. No need to exfoliate ahead of time thanks to the included blending mitt that smoothes out dry patches while buffing the bronzy tinted gel into every tiny crevice of the skin so your hands will stay mess-free and you’ll have an immediate glow while the color gradually builds. If you want a formula to use on your face too, this one is probably the best suited for the job.