If there’s one thing in this world I can confidently say I’m an expert on, it’s self-tanner. In fact, I would go as far to say that I’m a pioneer of self-tanner. Back in high school, my parents wouldn’t allow me to tan. And I was the only one in my friend group who didn’t have “cool parents” who would allow me to do so. (Obviously, now I’m grateful to them—hindsight is 20-20, right?) But, that being said, my group of besties were all SO tan and I was extremely jealous. I had to find a way to keep up. I mean, bronzer can only do so much. And trust me, I caked that sh*t on, as all naive high school girls do. But, at some point, the bronzer wasn’t enough. And so, I began my journey down the aisles of drugstores, trying every and any product that promised a bronzed tan.
Since my amateur high school days, I’ve graduated from drugstore aisles to expensive sh*t at Sephora, in my never-ending pursuit of the just-got-back-from-vaca glow. So, that being said, here are the self-tanners that actually work, from least to most expensive.
First, we’ll start with the drugstore option. I was actually introduced to this one by a colleague of mine a few months ago. When she came into work looking like a bronzed goddess, I had to know which high-end self-tanner from Sephora she was using. To my surprise, she informed me it was the Jergen’s mousse, and I was beyond impressed. As a self-tanner connoisseur, I had to get my hands on it. And I can attest, this stuff works. It dries almost instantly, which is a huge perk, and gives a stunning non-orange tan for a very affordable price. Although, disclaimer, it still has that dreaded self-tanner smell. You know the one.
This self-tanner brand is newer to Sephora, and has been making waves fast. It’s streak-free, easy to apply, and gives an amazing tan at a totally reasonable price. Isle of Paradise utilizes color corrective technology that reacts with your individual skin tone. It contains hydrating ingredients that allow the tan to go on and fade seamlessly. Isle of Paradise has options for different levels of tan, utilizing different color bases to ensure a non-orange, natural-looking tan. I personally LOVE their darkest shade, which has a violet tone base that gives me a rich, deep brown tan.
I first discovered this self-tanner on Instagram (where all the best things in life are discovered, obviously). This tanner gives my skin a stunning bronze shade that looks super natural and rich—so much so, that people ask me whether I just got back from vacation. I mean, maybe they’re just asking passive-aggressively so that I’ll spill my self-tanning secrets, but hey, I’ll take the compliment. This one also consistently looks great on different people with different based skin tones, as I have seen first hand on several of my friends. This is the current self-tanner I’m using as I wait for Sephora to restock the Tan-Luxe mousse, and I highly recommend.
This is a great self-tanning product for those new to self-tanning. It’s easy to apply and doesn’t go on super dark. It’s one of the innovative self-tanning products that uses a green base to create a more natural and less orange tan. It won’t look too dark, but it will still be enough to be noticeable. Of course, if you’re like me and want to be as dark as possible, you can just use a few layers of this one to deepen the tan.
This stuff is the end-all, be-all of self-tanners. Why? Because, not only does it give a flawless shade of bronze, but it also goes on clear and thus comes off clear. It is the only self-tanner that I have ever used that doesn’t come off on my clothes or sheets. There’s nothing worse than waking up with a guy and his sheets look he just slept with an Oompa Loompa. It’s my favorite self-tanner, and constant go-to. And, even though it’s the priciest one on this list, the bottle lasts a while and it’s 100% worth it.
As you’ve probably noticed, mousse is my formula of choice. In all my experience with self-tanners, mousse is the most reliable, consistent, and easy to use. I also think that it fades the best out of all the formulas I’ve tried. We’ve all seen the girl (or been the girl) with splotchy leftover tanner, and we also all know that it’s never a good look. Apparently the newest formula on the market is self-tanner water, which is one I have yet to try. But according to the sales woman at Sephora, it’s the latest self-tanner must-have. So take that as you will.
Images: @savwalts / Unsplash; Amazon; Sephora (3); Ulta
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