Anyone else patiently waiting for the day that you wake up and truly love your pale skin? I keep telling myself that if low-rise jeans can come back in style, anything is possible. Until then, sunless tanners will continue to be my loyal friends. With summer quickly approaching and poolside parties and beach getaways calling my name, I set out to find this year’s best new sunless tanners on the market… with a little help from some of my favorite makeup artists.
Featured image by Jenny Sathngam.
I reached out to Terri Bryant, Celebrity Makeup Artist and Founder of GUIDE BEAUTY, Ashley McNabb, Head Makeup Artist at Ashley McNabb Artistry, and Kelli Anne Sewell, Celebrity Makeup Artist and Content Creator at @makeupxka for their expert recommendations. And of course, I had to throw a few of my personal faves into the mix.
Finding the perfect sunless tanning product is definitely a personal journey. Everyone will have different reactions to products, contrasting opinions on scents, and even inconsistent results. Conclusion? Don’t be afraid to experiment! Your new go-to might be the first, fifth, or tenth product you try, but we’ve narrowed things down and shortlisted the 11 best new sunless tanners to get you started. Whichever you choose, know that you’re well on your way to your best-ever summer skin.
How to Apply Sunless Tanners
Ashley McNabb takes us through her top tips to achieve sun-kissed and streak-free skin.
- Proper prep is key. Make sure your skin is clean and well-exfoliated before applying any product.
- Start small. It’s always smart to test the product on a small part of skin before your whole body to make sure you like the color.
- Work your way around. Whether applying with your hands or a glove, do it in small sections. Blend in circular motions and pay extra attention to the ankles, toes, knees, and elbows, as these areas can be tricky to blend.
Looking for a more in-depth deep dive? Get our full list of tips and tricks for applying the best new sunless tanners here.
The Best New Sunless Tanners for a Summer Glow
“I’m obsessed with The Fox Tan’s new Dark Tropical Self-Tan Creme. This one checks all the boxes. It’s hard for me to find a self-tanner that looks natural on my fair skin, but the natural bronzy glow I get with this product is perfection and the wear is unbelievable. Days later, my skin is still glowing and it fades evenly, which is huge. They use 100% natural plant-based DHA plus a laundry list of skin-nourishing ingredients. The texture is really lovely on the skin and it even smells good!” — Bryant
“I have naturally olive skin, and this product is great if you have a darker skin tone. I love this stuff when I really want to go to my darkest levels and still look natural at the same time. Bonus points because it smells great, too.” — McNabb
“This self tanner is an old faithful. It’s a cool classic for a reason! The foam glides on effortlessly. The only issue is that it can smell a little self tanner-ish—but only for a little bit! The color is natural and beautiful, which makes it worth it.” — McNabb
“I have used these wipes on and off for years! L’Oreal actually makes some amazing self tanners that are a little bit more budget-friendly. Just make sure to exfoliate your skin before applying. There is no orange here, just a very natural and golden color. If you’re looking for a self tanner that’s a bit more subtle, go for these wipes.” — McNabb
“I love that Globox is a small business with the most high quality product. Think a beautiful brown-based tan, a quick-dry solution, and the best part… NO SMELL. This product is perfect for light to medium skin tones and gives the most beautiful sun-kissed, rich and natural look ever.” — Sewell
These are my personal go-to face drops. I add about half of the dropper to a dollop of my regular face moisturizer and apply onto a clean face. I’ve found that this product gives me the most natural color with the least amount of streaks. My number one tip is to use a damp cloth to wipe the product off your eyebrows (if they’re lighter like mine) and around your mouth to avoid darker spots.
To me, the best sunless tanners are tanning waters. This product goes on clear, is odorless, and non-toxic, all while giving a natural, streak-free tan. It’s the kind of sunless tan that you don’t have to arrange your whole day around since you can leave the house without smelling or looking like you just applied a whole bunch of product. The only downside of it being clear is that it can be a little hard to tell if you missed a spot, but it goes on so smoothly—so that’s never been the case for me.
When it comes to sunless tanners, this Supergoop! product takes the cake by adding SPF to the mix. This spray-on product develops in just 2-4 hours, all while protecting your skin against UV rays. It’s streak, scent, and transfer-free—plus it has clean ingredients and moisturizing properties, leaving your skin protected and smooth.
This tanning foam may not be new, but it definitely shouldn’t be forgotten. The lightweight formula goes on smoothly with a tanning mitt and can be rinsed after just an hour (though we suggest waiting for about six hours). It’s also infused with aloe vera and coconut, so it soothes while it tans.
Did anyone else get addicted to Jergens Natural Glow Lotion when it first came out? Well, meet its bigger and better cousin. Apply the moisturizer directly onto your skin in the shower, skipping both the self-tanner scent and wait time. The best part? It has built-in firming properties just like the OG lotion, so it works to reduce the appearance of cellulite, too.
Not only does this face oil tan your face overnight, but it also hydrates, brightens, firms, and rejuvenates your skin all at the same time. The reviews claim that the scent isn’t ideal, but if you are looking for a light, healthy color tint, it’s worth it.
Which of the best new sunless tanners will you try first?