19 Best Drugstore Self-Tanners – Cheap Fake Tanners and Products

Sadye Matula

Getty Hi, hey! It’s me, former president of the why-is-your-entire-body-streaky-and-muddy club. I’ll spare you the ~unfortunate~ details, but let’s just say that 16-year-old me had an extensive collection of drugstore self-tanner, zero knowledge of how it worked, and every intention of applying it liberally and often. Basically, if the sunless […]


Hi, hey! It’s me, former president of the why-is-your-entire-body-streaky-and-muddy club. I’ll spare you the ~unfortunate~ details, but let’s just say that 16-year-old me had an extensive collection of drugstore self-tanner, zero knowledge of how it worked, and every intention of applying it liberally and often. Basically, if the sunless tanner promised a “convincing summertime glow year-round” or a “fake tan so good it looks REAL” (bonus points if there was shimmer), you bet I slathered that sh*t allllll over. Which left me looking rather…well, I’m sure you get the picture. But it also means I’ve learned exactly what NOT to do when working with self-tanner and which ones actually live up to their promise.

And because I want you to inherit the *right* knowledge surrounding the oh-so confusing world of fake tanner, I’m going to impart my fake tan wisdom upon you: Here are the 19 best drugstore self-tanners and products to nail the faux glow the first time around.

What is the best drugstore tan and how do I apply it?

As someone who spent the better part of their teenage years covered from head to toe in ultra fake-looking tanner and smelling incrediblyyy, erm, funky, to say the least, I can be the first to say that there are plenty of not-so-great products on the market. But these days? My skin looks GLOWING thanks to some new and improved application methods—and some very much enhanced self-tanner formulas.

Let’s get one thing straight—the preparation and application process before putting on self-tanner is just as, if not MORE, important than the actual product itself. If you don’t properly prep your skin, the product won’t have a good base to adhere to, making the tanner look fake, streaky, or even muddy.

My tried-and-true self-tanner process:

  1. Exfoliate and remove any existing fake tan beforehand. For the self-tanner to “stick,” you need even, smooth skin. Massage your skin from the neck down with an exfoliating body scrub or loofah in the shower. This will help remove any old tanner and dead skin.
  2. Protect and moisturize key areas of the skin. Your hands, elbows, knees, feet, or any other dry, rough areas on your body should be moisturized with a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer beforehand. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of these areas over-developing (i.e., dark spots and splotches).
  3. Apply a liberal amount of self-tanner to a tanning mitt. Fun fact! If you don’t use enough self-tan, you can end up looking streaky because there won’t be enough DHA (the chemical that reacts with the skin to create the tan) to cover the skin fully. Oh, and you obvi don’t want muddy hands—AKA the key giveaway to any fake tan.
  4. Work on one area of the body at a time, and apply with long strokes. This way, you are less likely to miss any spots.
  5. Wash your hands one to two hours after application. This is a personal hack of mine, and I have found that it keeps my hands from over-developing.
  6. Allow the tan to develop, and shower after the proper amount of time. For the tan to come out as intended, follow the directions on the individual tanner, and don’t shower until at least the minimum suggested time.
  7. Moisturize daily and often. Dry skin can wreak havoc on a fake tan. To avoid it fading splotchy, wear SPF and moisturize with your favorite hydrating body lotion.

Now for the fun part, here are 19 of the best drugstore self-tanners and products for the ultimate (and streak-free!) self-tanning experience.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below


Best Drugstore Gradual Self-Tanner

Jergens Natural Glow Sunless Tanning Lotion

The Jergens Natural Glow is an OG cult-favorite, and for good reason. Over the course of a few days to a week, you can gradually create an even, natural-looking tan. For those who aren’t ready to fully saturate their skin in an instant bronzing solution, this is a good product to dip your toes in the self-tanning world. Bonus: You can build up the color depending on your preference!


Best Drugstore Instant Self-Tanner

Tanologist Insta Glow

For those who don’t have the time or patience to wait a full week—or even a few hours—this is for you. Tanologist’s Insta Glow can be slathered on dry skin for instant illumination and tan. It’s basically like a foundation for your body. The product is water-resistant and lasts up to 24-hours. To remove, warm water and a body wash will do the trick.


Best Drugstore Foam Self-Tanner

Bondi Sands Aero Aerated Self Tanning Foam

If you want a drugstore self-tanner that feels lightweight on the skin and is super quick and easy to apply, consider opting for a tanning mousse. The Bondi Sands Aero foam is one of my all-time favorites. Not only can I apply it in less than five minutes (yes, really), but the color is perfectly bronzy, so it actually looks natural. The shade comes in three colors perfect for a range of skin tones, and develops within six to eight hours.


Best Hydrating Drugstore Self-Tanner

b.tan I Woke Up Like This Overnight Tanning Treatment

Another foaming drugstore tanner is the b.tan I Woke Up Like This Overnight Tanning Treatment. Sometimes, applying tanner can feel like a heavy, sticky mess. However, this formula is loaded with hyaluronic acid and vitamin A, so your skin will be left feeling super hydrated. Apply the tanner before you go to bed, and you’ll wake up bronzed and glowy AF. Pro tip: Wear some dark clothes so the product won’t transfer to your sheets.


Best Drugstore Self-Tanner Body Mist

Neutrogena Micromist Airbrush Sunless Tanning Spray

Want a spray tan but don’t wanna shell out the money for one?! Enter Neutrogena’s Micromist Airbrush Sunless Tanning Spray. Take it from me, it’s legit SO easy to apply. Don’t worry that the spray application means a streaky tan, though. Surprisingly, you don’t have to be a pro to use this self-tanning mist. Hold the can six inches from your body and spray it evenly across your skin, focusing on one section at a time. The continuous one-touch clear spray will develop within two to four hours and leave you with a gorge glow.


Best Drugstore Self-Tanner for Your Face

St. Moriz Radiant Glow Face Tanning Mist

This tanning mist, formulated specifically for your face, builds a tan over time naturally and gradually. Because the mist is a tanning water, it’s mess-free due to no immediate color deposit. Over the course of a few days, your face will start to look glowy and radiant. If you want more color, continue to apply it daily to build it up. The best part? You can use it over or under your makeup, which is awesome for those of us that are always, er, late.


Best Drugstore Self-Tanner for Fair Skin

Alba Botanica Sunless Tanner Lotion

If you have v fair skin and can’t find a tanner that doesn’t look orange on your skin, I FEEL YOU. It took me forever to find a product to achieve a tan during the winter months when my skin is incredibly light and pale. But the nourishing formula of Alba Botanica’s Sunless Tanner appears natural and looks much more bronzey than orange. Made with shea butter, almond oil, and safflower oil, this tanner is incredibly hydrating and moisturizing and will give you a long-lasting glooow.


Best Drugstore Self-Tanner for Medium Skin

Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion

For those with medium to tan skin tones that want an extra boost of color for added radiance and glow, pop this deep tanning lotion in your cart ASAP. The color is buildable, meaning you have the option to fully customize how dark you want it to appear on your skin. The color will develop within two to three hours and last for several days, thanks to the nourishing aloe and vitamin E. In the summer, when my skin is darker, this bb is my go-to.


Best Drugstore Self-Tanner for Deep Skin

L’Oreal Paris Sublime Pearlized Sunless Lotion

If you have a deep skin tone, the key to finding the best self-tanner is choosing one that contains a luminizer. The shimmer will reflect off of deep skin beautifully to create the most incredible glow. This one by L’Oreal contains a subtle shimmer that will leave your skin looking hydrated, while the color deposit smooths out the skin. In two to four hours, you will begin to see the results take place.


Best Drugstore Self-Tanner Drops

SOL by Jergens Deeper by the Drop Self Tanning Drops

Probably the newest, and IMO, coolest, addition to the self-tanner world is serum drops. Personally, I find that tanning drops work best when applied to the face. Either in the morning or night, add a few drops into your moisturizer and apply to the skin. Trust me when I say this, start SLOW. These bbs pack a punch, so you don’t need a lot to get the color payoff you’re looking for. If you want more of a tan, apply the same night or the next day. To keep the tan alive, apply every other day.


Best Drugstore Self-Tanner Illuminator

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Illuminator Leg Makeup

If you want a glowy tan without darkening your skin color, opt for a body illuminator. This one by Sally Hansen is meant for the legs but can be used wherever you want extra oomph and radiance. This is a great option for those with deep skin tones to add shimmer and glow to your skin without a huge color deposit. Apply to your body, wait a few minutes for it to dry, and the product will last all day long. To remove it, just hop in the shower and use soap. Easy peasy.


Best Drugstore Self-Tanner Wipes

Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Towelettes

I’m NGL, when I’m choosing tanners, the easier and more convenient, the better. Enter: Self-tanning towelettes. For those on the go, swipe these babies on before getting dressed for the day. They won’t transfer, and thanks to the vitamin E, your skin will be left feeling hydrated. The tan will develop throughout the day and give you a long-lasting glow. To keep the color, reapply every few days.


Best Drugstore Self-Tanning Glove

Bondi Sands Self-Tanning Mitt

Take it from someone who found themselves with this problem A LOT, don’t use your hands to apply self-tanner (!!!!) Not only will the product overdevelop, but it’ll be damn near impossible to remove it right away. Instead, opt for a self-tanning mitt. This one by Bondi Sands is only $6 and can be thrown in the washing machine whenever it needs a little cleaning.


-Best Mesh Body Exfoliator for Self Tanning

Luv Scrub Mesh Body Exfoliator

Remember when I said the key to an even tan is to exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate?! Well, if you really want prepped skin, may I suggest this mesh body exfoliator? Founded by Ghanaian-American Caroline Owusu-Ansah and influenced by West African beauty rituals, this nylon mesh is the perfect everyday exfoliator for those who self-tan often. Oh, and it lasts 18 freakin’ months. This means, yep, that equates to one dollar per month…a STEAL.


Best Drugstore Exfoliating Scrub for Self-Tanning

Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub

Another way to properly exfoliate before self-tanning is with a sugar scrub. This fan fave from Soap & Glory is the BEST. Made with oat, sugar, shea, bananas, almond, and honey extracts, your skin will be left feeling smooth as hell. The best part? It’s only $15 and can be found at any ol’ drugstore.


Best Drugstore Body Lotion for Self-Tanning

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Hydrating Body Lotion

If you want your drugstore self-tanner to last a v long time, the key is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. I’m talkin’ daily aaaand often. This one by Shea Moisture uses raw shea butter and essential oils to keep your skin smooth as hell.


Best Drugstore Face Lotion for Self-Tanning

BLK/OPL Nutritive Skin Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 15

Yes, that includes your face too. The BLK/OPL drugstore moisturizer is one of my personal faves. Not only is it super-lightweight (like, you’ll forget you’re even wearing it), but includes a bunch of peptides that work to brighten your skin. So not only will you be hella tan and glowy, but you’ll also look bright and awake. That’s a win-win in my book.


Best Drugstore SPF Lotion for After Self-Tanner

Urban Hydration SPF 30 Dry & Eczema Prone Sunscreen Lotion

So the reason we’re self-tanning in the first place is to avoid the v REAL and v HARMFUL UV rays from the sun. This drugstore sunscreen body moisturizer by Urban Hydration has an SPF 30 and contains shea butter, castor oil, and vitamins that’ll keep your skin hydrated, help to avoid your self-tan from looking splotchy as it fades, aaaand protect your skin from the sun.


Best Drugstore Liquid Illuminator to enhance Self-Tanner

Born To Glow Liquid Illuminator

On days that you want to enhance your drugstore self-tanner, look no further than some bronzer and liquid illuminator. This one by NYX is under $8 and will legit give you the prettiest glow. My secret? After your self-tanner has developed and you have showered, apply this to your cheekbones and collar bones. You will be radiating, trust.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Next Post

A Texas Doctor Says He Broke Texas' Abortion Ban. Now He's Being Sued : NPR

Demonstrators in Austin protest on Sept. 1 from the Texas regulation that blocks abortions about six months into gestation. Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman by means of AP disguise caption toggle caption Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman by way of AP Demonstrators in Austin protest on Sept. 1 against the Texas legislation that blocks […]
Copyright @ Ndependent.co.uk WordPress Theme: Seek by ThemeInWP