Best of Summer: Self-Tanners

best of summer self tanners

Finding the best self-tanners of this summer was not a task I took lightly! I literally spent months testing, and I tested so many—I truly can’t remember the exact number. There were even times where I’d have one leg slathered in one brand, and the other leg coated with another. Sometimes…those results weren’t exactly pretty! These were the 8 that made the final cut, and why. For best results with any self-tanner (except those that spray), I highly recommend applying with a self-tanning mitt. It not only protects your palms, but enables even application, so you can skip the streaks.

Beautisol Med-Dark Self-Tanning Mousse

Where do I start with my love affair with Beautisol? I’ve been using the products since their initial launch in 2009, and the new Medium Mousse is THE BEST self-tanner I’ve ever used. No kidding. This tinted mousse has color-corrective pigments that eliminate orange and yellow tones, to give you the most beautiful Mediterranean glow—and you can see exactly where it goes. Another feature is their Pure-Scent Technology; it ensures that you have a minimum amount of that icky DHA scent, and it stays smelling fresh (kind of like a fresh-linen scent) while your tan is developing. I won’t go without this one, year-round! $33.90,

Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse

This self-tanner from the UK is now available in the States, and features an innovative technology that binds the formula to your skin longer by matching up with your pH. The 2-3 week claim isn’t indicative of a single application—it refers to 3 applications. You’ll need to apply additional layers of pHenomenal for the best results. A single application lasts about 7 days (still pretty good!), and after your third, lasts up to 3 weeks. (Wait at least 8 hours between those layers!) It has a slight caramel scent, and is tinted so you don’t miss any spots. The color was gorgeous, lacked orange, and faded evenly. Available in Fair, Medium, and Dark; I used the medium formula and was very happy with the results. $54,

Xen-Tan Moroccan Tan

This tinted liquid-lotion immediately delivered deep, gorgeous color due to its tint, but after it developed and I washed off the color guide—I was left with a nice medium-range olive-tone tan. This contains special skin conditioners and argan oil which left my skin looking and feeling hydrated, and developed in about 4 hours. Moroccan Tan has a light tropical scent when applied, and the DHA scent as it developed wasn’t bad at all. I highly recommend a mitt with this one, as it dries quickly and you want to spread it evenly. My tan lasted 5 days, and probably would have lasted longer had I been able to do a second application on day 3, but I was pressed for time. $35,

Body Drench Quick Tan Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion

This is one of the better gradual self-tanners I’ve tried. Applying a gradual self-tanner over a few days is one of the most forgiving ways to wear a faux tan, and allows you to correct any mishaps discreetly because you’re not so dark that it’s traumatic! In a few hours, a golden glow surfaces, and you can intensify it during the week with subsequent applications. It’s available in both medium and dark formulas, and the scent is very mild. $9.99,

Merle Norman Self-Tanning Bronzing Foam

This tinted, whipped foam gave my skin a beautiful bronze tint in a single application and smelled fresh the entire time it developed. It doesn’t mean it’s odorless, but it does have a clean, soapy fragrance to it. It blended really easily, didn’t streak, developed in 6 hours, and my tan started fading evenly on day 4. $24, Merle Norman locations nationwide

bareMinerals Faux Tan Face Gradual Glow Self-Tanner

This tinted lotion makes self-tanning your face practically goof-proof! I love that it contains plant-derived emollients and a mineral complex that conditions your skin while you glow. The formula allows you to slowly build up to your desired color over a few days with subsequent applications so you can spare yourself an embarrassing, dark oompa-loompa face.  $24,

Hampton Sun Sunless Tanning Gel

With a silky, hydrating gel formula, Hampton Sun delivers a gorgeous light-to-medium level tan with a pleasant fragrance while it develops. It was pretty forgiving in the application department even though it lacks a tint, but I was able to hit my few missed spots quickly since it developed in about 5 hours. For a deeper, darker result, I recommend reapplying on day 2 for color that lasts longer. $34,

tarte Brazilliance Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Face & Body Self-Tanner

In a single application with this tinted lotion-gel, I got the perfect bronze tint! I love Brazilliance because it features one of tarte’s signature skincare ingredients, Maracuja oil. It also contains Vitamins A & E that replenish the skin for a dual treatment-tanning effect. I consistently receive an even, streak-free, realistic-looking glow that fades evenly and lasts 4 days, but will last longer with a second application on day 2 or 3. $37,

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  • Linda

    Great post. I’m naturally tan, but by the time warmer weather rolls around my legs are so much lighter than the rest of me! I’ll be looking into these…

  • Amber

    Thanks, Linda! So glad it’s helpful 😉 I appreciate you stopping by.

  • Lisa Kerr

    Thanks, I can’t wait to try some of your favorites!

  • Amber

    Lisa, PLEASE let us know your experiences, good or bad. But hopefully they’re all great! I tried really hard to narrow it down to those I thought performed best from the pool I had to choose from.