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The 10 Best Self-Tanners for Fair Skin in 2021

The 10 Best Self-Tanners for Fair Skin in 2021

For the porcelain-skinned among us, a sun-kissed glow is but a dream. What’s more, catching a few rays too many is increasingly unadvised, as skin cancer is the most common form of cancer both in the United States and worldwide. So is there any recourse for our paler pals?

Indeed there is, in the form of self-tanner. Don’t let those unsightly orange sheens of bygone winters fool you, either; today’s self-tanners are easy to apply and won’t leave you looking like you just busted out of a cheese puff factory.

Factors to Consider When Buying Self-Tanner for Fair Skin

However, not all self-tanners are created equal. Some are more suited to fair skin, while others look better on darker complexions. No matter where you fall on the skin color spectrum, though, there are a few key factors you should keep in mind while shopping around.

Ingredients

People forget that skin is a living, breathing organ, meaning it’ll soak up whatever you slap on top of it. This goes for self-tanners, too, which is why it’s crucial to choose one that isn’t loaded with harmful chemicals, and instead is full of the good stuff. Here’s our comprehensive guide to all of the best self-tanner ingredients.

Guide Color

When you first apply self-tanner, you’ll look a bit darker than what the final results will show. This extra shade of color is known in the fake tan world as the guide color, which purposely helps you see which areas of the skin are uneven and in need of buffing out. It also helps prevent you from laying on the self-tanner too thick in a single spot.

Once your self-tanner has soaked into your skin and developed properly, this guide color will wash off easily in the shower. However, some self-tanners —  especially those for lighter skin tones — won’t have a guide color. But that doesn’t mean they should be avoided. One of our favorites is the Neutrogena Micromist Airbrush Sunless Tanning Spray.

Your Skin Tone

Skin tones usually fall into one of three categories: fair, medium, or deep. There’s more to it than that, though; your skin also has undertones, meaning your skin exhibits different “colors” in addition to its fair, medium, or deep skin tone.

There are three types of undertones: cool, warm, and neutral. Skin with cool undertones has a red, pink, or bluish cast to the skin. Warm undertones have more of a golden, yellow, or peachy tinge, whereas neutral undertones are often a mix of these two.

PRO-TIP: Not sure what your undertones are? Examine your wrist in natural light; if your veins are blue or purple, you have cool undertones. If your veins look green, then you have warm undertones.

Knowing your skin tone and undertones are invaluable information when shopping around for a self-tanner, as it’ll help you choose the right base color. If you choose a self-tanner not suited to your skin tone and undertones, you could end up looking a bit alien. However, there is an unlimited amount of skin tone and undertone combinations, so you may need to experiment a bit before you find the right fit.

Your Skin Type

While people with less sensitive skin can usually tolerate stronger, tingle tanning products, these should be avoided by those with particularly fair or sensitive skin. All the self-tanners to make our list represent a much milder approach to getting that sun-kissed look.

Still, even within these products, different skin types will respond to self-tanners, well, differently. Some self-tanners will work better with dry skin, like the Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Self Tanner Mousse. Others, like the St. Tropez Self Tan Express Advanced Bronzing Mousse, are cut out for oily or combination skin.

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for in a self-tanner suited to porcelain complexions, let’s introduce our top ten picks. We’ll include a breakdown of their ingredients and base colors, too.

Top 10 Best Self-Tanner for Fair Skin 2021

1. Best Overall Self-Tanner for Fair Skin: St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse

St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse

Why we like it: This brand is known for making easy-to-apply self-tanners made from high-quality, 100% naturally-derived DHA. Its grey-green guide color makes it easy to see which spots need more color or blending in.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Ingredients: 100% naturally-derived DHA; aloe vera
  • Body or Face: Body
  • Guide Color: Yes
  • Application Mitt: Yes
  • Best For: All skin types

Verdict

St. Tropez is well-known for delivering sunshine in a bottle; its pleasant-smelling self-tanning products have been a hit with its customers for years. The Self Tan Express Advanced Bronzing Mousse is no exception, thanks to its formula made with 100% naturally-derived DHA and soothing aloe vera, rivaling that of the Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Self Tanner Mousse. Like other self-tanners mentioned on this list, it’s grey-green guide color washes off in the shower after letting it sit for an hour or two.

Just keep in mind that you may need to do a deep exfoliation before reapplying another layer. The guide color may linger a bit, too, giving your skin a greenish cast. For this reason, it’s mostly suitable for folks with neutral undertones. But if that’s you, there’s nothing better out there.

Pros

  • 100% naturally-derived DHA
  • Smells good
  • Gives you a natural-looking tan
  • Lightweight mousse is easy to apply

Cons

  • May need to exfoliate a lot before reapplying
  • Lingering green-grey color only makes it good for neutral undertones

2. Best Premium Self-Tanner for Fair Skin: Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam

Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam

Why we like it: This luxurious self-tanning mousse delivers soft, bronze skin with top notes of Balinese mango and guava, thanks to the 100% all-natural DHA in its formula. You also won’t orange-ify yourself, thanks to its green-grey guide color that works with your skin tone and undertones.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Ingredients: 100% natural DHA; all-natural extracts (lotus leaf, banana, orange, papaya, fig, coconut, mango, and cocoa)
  • Body or Face: Both
  • Guide Color: Yes
  • Application Mitt: No
  • Best For: Dry skin

Verdict

Its main claim to fame is its lush, natural ingredient list; its DHA is 100% plant-based, while its myriad fruit extracts lend it a soft, fruit scent. Its top-notch formula also boasts Cellushape technology, which boasts anti-aging and skin-firming properties.

However, it doesn’t come with an application mitt, which could make the application a bit cumbersome. What’s more, you might want to apply this self-tanner in the daytime, as the guide color can wash off on sheets overnight. Still though, you won’t find any hints of orange in either the guide color or the final bronze itself. Its green-grey base color works with all skin tones and undertones to give you the cool, golden color you’re after.

Pros

  • All-star formula packed with 100% naturally-derived DHA and other tropical extracts
  • Cellushape technology provides anti-aging and skin-firming properties
  • Light and delicious fruity scent
  • Green-grey base color works with all skin tones and undertones

Cons

  • Guide color rubs off on clothes and sheets
  • No application mitt included

3. Best Budget Self-Tanner for Fair Skin: Jergens Natural Glow Sunless Tanning Lotion

Jergens Natural Glow Sunless Tanning Lotion

Why we like it: Jergens Natural Glow will firm up skin and fight cellulite thanks to its all-natural formula infused with collagen, elastin, and green tea extracts.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Ingredients: DHA; hyaluronic acid; aloe vera; vitamin E; collagen; elastin; green tea extract natural oils (olive, avocado, and jojoba)
  • Body or Face: Body
  • Guide Color: No
  • Application Mitt: No
  • Best For: Normal skin

Verdict

If you’ve got a few days to spare, consider nabbing a bottle of Jergens Natural Glow Sunless Tanning Lotion. Not only does it deliver a gradual, natural-looking tan, its collagen and elastin-infused formula will help firm and smooth skin over time. It’s also a great daily moisturizer for the body, so you can get dewy, sun-kissed skin in a single bottle, and you won’t need an application mitt to do it. Like other self-tanners on this list, it’s also got DHA, hyaluronic acid, and aloe vera–all of which nourish and hydrate your skin.

However, the long holding period can be a double-edged sword, meaning you should look elsewhere if you’re after quicker results. What’s more, the color typically lasts half as long as other self-tanners, so you’ll have to apply it twice as often; this isn’t particularly pleasant, considering it’s a bit strong-smelling compared to other self-tanners on the list.

Pros

  • Daily moisturizer that gradually tans skin
  • Collagen and elastin-infused formula firm and smooth skin over time
  • Hydrating, nourishing ingredients
  • No need for application mitt

Cons

  • Takes a few days to start seeing results
  • Have to frequently reapply to maintain color
  • Somewhat strong-smelling

4. Best Salon-Quality Self-Tanner: Existing Beauty Bronze Tan Dark

Existing Beauty Bronze Tan Dark

Why we like it: You can get this salon-grade self-tanner for a drugstore price. Its handy grey-green guide color ensures that you’ll get a nice, deep tan without any orange after-effects. The vanilla scent doesn’t hurt, either.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Ingredients: DHA; aloe vera; jojoba extract
  • Body or Face: Both
  • Guide Color: Yes
  • Application Mitt: Yes
  • Best For: Dry skin

Verdict

This fast-drying formula moisturizes and hydrates the skin while simultaneously giving you a faux glow, rivaling the self-tans famously found in salons. Don’t let its grey-green guide color scare you, either; this washes off easily in the shower after letting it sit and darken your skin. For a natural tan, let it sit for 30 minutes. For an ultra-dark finish, wait at least two hours before you hit the shower. The final results should appear within 24 hours or so, and can last from five to seven days, depending on how often you moisturize.

Thankfully, this lightweight mousse can go on both your face and body. Use the complementary application mitt to blend it in on your body and the face brush for the more delicate facial area.

Just don’t let the guide color fool you; self-tanner rookies may be inclined to lay it on thick since the bronzed results won’t show up immediately. What’s more, it’s also prone to streaking if you don’t rub it in fast enough. Fortunately, though, you won’t see any orange tinges no matter how much you apply.

Pros

  • Lightweight formula that’s fast-drying and easy to apply
  • Handy grey-green base color shows you how even your tan is
  • Application mitt and facial brush included
  • Vanilla scent

Cons

  • Not very beginner-friendly
  • Can be streaky if not applied correctly

5. Best Daily Moisturizer: Jergens Natural Glow 3-Day Self-Tanner

Jergens Natural Glow 3-Day Self-Tanner

Why we like it: Bring a little color to your day with this self-tanning moisturizer that gradually darkens your skin over the course of three days. Your skin won’t skip out on hydration here, either.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Ingredients: DHA; hyaluronic acid; aloe vera; vitamin E; natural oils (olive, avocado, jojoba)
  • Body or Face: Body
  • Guide Color: No
  • Application Mitt: No
  • Best For: Normal skin

Verdict

This gradual self-tanner does double duty as a moisturizer. It’s also a great choice for those with very fair skin who want a little peck on the cheek from Mr. Sun. Not only is it lightweight and quick-drying, but it won’t leave streaks or splotches since the moisturizing aspect allows the color to spread evenly.

However, it may be a bit strong-smelling compared to other self-tanners on the list. If you don’t mind putting up with the smell for a few days until the color starts showing up, then this isn’t a problem. However, just as it is with the other Jergens self-tanner on our list, this could be a bit of a problem for folks looking for a faster sunless tan.

Pros

  • Moisturizes skin while gradually darkening it
  • Special formula designed to hydrate and nourish skin
  • Doesn’t come off on clothes or bed sheets
  • Pleasant scent

Cons

  • A bit smelly
  • Takes about three days for results to start showing up

6. Best Self-Tanner for Sensitive Skin: Golden Star Beauty Self Tanner Lotion

Golden Star Beauty Self Tanner Lotion

Why we like it: Packed with soothing, all-natural botanicals, this self-tanning lotion’s buildable color makes it perfect for folks of all skin types and tones. Even those with sensitive skin can get a healthy glow thanks to its non-comedogenic formula.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Ingredients: DHA; hyaluronic acid; aloe vera; black tea extract; vitamins B12, B2, and B5; natural oils and extracts (coconut, olive, avocado, jojoba, safflower, rooibos, walnut, shea, and coffee)
  • Body or Face: Body
  • Guide Color: No
  • Application Mitt: Yes
  • Best For: All skin types

Verdict

Whether you have dry skin with cool undertones or oily skin with red undertones, you can customize your color by gradually applying more product with the handy application mitt. Better yet, its organic oils and extracts give it a pleasant floral smell, unlike other smelly self-tanners chock full of synthetic chemicals. Sensitive skin may benefit especially from these organic oils and extracts that hydrate and nourish the skin.

If that’s not enough to convince you, then consider this: you won’t get any orange-y tones or streaks, since it absorbs quickly into the skin and naturally works with your skin tone and undertones to give you that fresh-off-the-cruise-ship bronze color. Just be careful when trying to build your bronze; since this self-tanner has no guide color, you may end up slathering on too much— especially if you’re a self-tanning newbie.

Pros

  • All-natural ingredients rejuvenate skin
  • No orange-y tones
  • No streaks
  • Good for all skin types and tones
  • Application mitt included

Cons

  • No guide color
  • Not very beginner-friendly

7. Best Self-Tanner for the Face: Beauty by Earth Self-Tanner

Beauty by Earth Self-Tanner

Why we like it: This self-tanner for this face features an impressive list of organic ingredients that tout anti-aging properties, making it perfect for pale, sensitive skin looking for a little color.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Ingredients: DHA; aloe vera; green tea extract; witch hazel; natural oils and extracts (argan, jojoba, pomegranate, cranberry, vanilla, shea)
  • Body or Face: Face
  • Guide Color: No
  • Application Mitt: No
  • Best For: Sensitive skin

Verdict

Sensitive skin can get in on the self-tan fun with this self-tanner for the face. Organic extracts like shea, green tea, and witch hazel simultaneously soothe and smooth the skin, allowing for an even, streak-free application. What’s more, its anti-aging properties ensure a sunless glow that leaves your skin looking dewy and healthy. Whether you apply it in the morning or night doesn’t matter; it won’t transfer to your bed sheets nor come off while applying your makeup.

Depending on your skin’s undertones, though, you might get more orange results, which is hardly the look that anyone’s after. Moreover, it can clog pores despite being made for sensitive skin. Obviously, this can pose a problem for ultra-sensitive skin that breaks out easily.

Pros

  • Formulated with organic oils and extracts
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Great for sensitive skin that doesn’t break out easily

Cons

  • Can clog pores on ultra-sensitive skin
  • May make your face a bit orange depending on your skin’s undertones

8. Best Self-Tanning Towelettes: Tan Towel Self-Tan Towelettes

Tan Towel Self-Tan Towelettes

Why we like it: For a quick hit of color on the go, it’s hard to beat these handy self-tanning towelettes. Each towelette is infused with a clear, liquid formula that’s no-mess, no-fuss, and all-fun.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Ingredients: DHA; vitamin C; cucumber extract; tea tree oil
  • Body or Face: Body
  • Guide Color: No
  • Application Mitt: No
  • Best For: Normal skin

Verdict

There’s no need for an application mitt here; these self-tan towelettes are a one-stop shop where you can exfoliate, hydrate, and tan all in one fell swoop — or swipe! Simply swipe one of these towelettes over your body, and you’ll be good to go in minutes. You’ll also find that these towelettes nourish your skin thanks to the Vitamin C and tea tree extract in their formula. You may also find that you can use the same towelette more than once — especially if you have naturally well-hydrated skin.

These towelettes might not be ideal for those with drier skin, though. That’s because it’ll take you a couple of towelettes to get the color you’re after, so you may end up only getting a few applications out of a single pack. Moreover, it may have the same orange-y effect on your skin depending on your skin’s undertones, just like the Beauty by Earth Self-Tanner for Face.

Pros

  • Pleasant, fresh smell
  • Can use a single towelette more than once on well-hydrated skin
  • Convenient and great for a hit of color on the go — no application mitt needed

Cons

  • Folks with drier skin may not get as much mileage out of them
  • Could make your skin orange depending on your skin’s undertones

9. Best Self-Tanner for Beginners: Bondi Sands Self-Tanning Foam

Bondi Sands Self-Tanning Foam

Why we like it: This fast-acting, coconut-scented self-tanning foam promises an orange and streak-free sunless tanning experience. Its lightweight, aloe vera, cocoa, and shea butter-infused formula is easy to apply and great for self-tanning beginners.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Ingredients: DHA; aloe vera; natural extracts (cocoa, shea)
  • Body or Face: Both
  • Guide Color: Yes
  • Application Mitt: No
  • Best For: Normal skin

Verdict

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a sweeter-smelling self-tanner on the market. This lovely, coconut-scented self-tanner is also great for self-tanning rookies, as it’s easy to apply, goes on streak-free, and starts showing results in just one hour. Your skin will also get a dose of hydration thanks to its aloe-vera, cocoa, and shea butter-infused formula.

However, it’s not ideal for applying before bed, as the color tends to rub off on bed sheets or clothes. You may also want to steer clear of applying this self-tanner to the face, as it can leave your skin feeling sticky and clogged. Opt instead for a self-tanner specifically designed for the face, like the Beauty by Earth Self-Tanner for Face.

Pros

  • Fresh coconut scent
  • Easy to apply and very beginner-friendly
  • Orange and streak-free no matter what your skin tone and undertones are
  • Fast-acting

Cons

  • Color transfers to clothes and bed sheets easily
  • Feels sticky and greasy on the face

10. Best Self-Tanning Spray: Neutrogena Micromist Airbrush Sunless Spray

Neutrogena Micromist Airbrush Sunless Spray

Why we like it: This easy-to-apply self-tanning spray nixes the need for a cumbersome application mitt, allowing for a professional airbrush sunless tanning experience right in the comfort of your home.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Ingredients: DHA; witch hazel
  • Body or Face: Both
  • Guide Color: No
  • Application Mitt: No
  • Best For: Normal skin

Verdict

Part of what makes sunless tanning so tedious is having to rub it extensively into the skin to ensure a smooth, even application. Fortunately, this continuous, fast-drying micromist self-tanner eliminates the need for all of that. All you need to do is spray it all over your body and in a matter of minutes, you can have a gorgeous, professional-quality sunless tan.

Don’t worry about drying out your skin with it, either; this self-tanner’s formula is alcohol-free and infused with soothing witch hazel, so you won’t be in danger of drying out your skin.

The scent may be a little off-putting for some, as it smells more like a synthetic fragrance than a product made from all-natural botanicals. The spray nozzle is also known to break or malfunction rather easily, meaning you could be left with a bottle more than half-full and with no means to use it.

Pros

  • Salon-quality airbrush micromist technology
  • No need to rub it into skin
  • Dries fast and delivers color within five minutes
  • Witch hazel soothes and nourishes skin

Cons

  • Fake perfumy smell
  • Bottle nozzle is prone to breakage, rendering the entire thing useless

Guide to Buying the Best Self-Tanner for Fair Skin 2021

Now you’ve seen the best self-tanners available, here’s everything else you need to know to help guide your buying decision.

How Do Self-Tanners Work?

Self-tanners, otherwise known as sunless tanning products, give your skin that healthy, sun-kissed glow without the harmful UV rays in tow. Self-tanners are sold as lotions, mousses, oils, sprays, and even wet wipes, like the Tan Towel Self-Tan Towelettes. Sunless tanning salons have also increased in popularity in the past 15 years.

So how does this sun-in-a-bottle bronze your skin? The active ingredient in self-tanners is DHA, which reacts with dead skin cells on the epidermis (i.e., the outermost layer of the skin) to darken your skin and simulate a gorgeous, sun-kissed glow. It typically wears off after a few days, but there are a couple of ways to prolong your tan — we’ll get into that later.

Key Ingredients to Look Out For

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)

DHA is the active ingredient in all self-tanners. This colorless chemical is made from fermenting plant sugars, and bonds with the proteins on the top layer of your skin to slowly darken them. This is why you should avoid pools for a while after applying a self-tanner; chemicals like chlorine will break down DHA and cause it to wash off more easily.

Aloe Vera

Think of aloe as a miracle plant for the skin. Not only is it great for soothing painful sunburns, but it’s chock full of nourishing botanicals and vitamins that will also bust acne and moisturize dry skin. However, aloe only works against lighter acne, so those with deeper or cystic acne will still need another stronger acne-fighting alternative.

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a great natural-inflammatory agent for the skin, helping to ease injury and irritation. Since it’s an astringent, it will also dry the skin out a bit, which is welcome news for those with light acne or blackheads. This is partly because of the active tannins in witch hazel, which are plant-based compounds with antioxidant effects.

Hyaluronic Acid

Known for moisturizing dry skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and accelerating the healing of wounds, hyaluronic acid works wonders on a number of skin conditions. Some self-tanners include it for improved hydration and moisturization.

Green & Black Tea Extracts

Green and black tea extracts have anti-inflammatory agents that reduce the redness of skin? We’ll drink to that. Additionally, Camellia Sinensis has anti-aging properties that, like hyaluronic acid, will turn back the clock a bit by smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin B2

Some self-tanners include vitamin B2 to help prevent the skin from drying out too much. This is because vitamin B2 regulates mucus production in your skin and helps it absorb zinc more easily, which is an important mineral for good skin health.

Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 smooths and softens the skin and also promotes your skin’s healing process. In addition, it absorbs moisture from the air to keep your skin looking dewy and healthy.

Vitamin B12

Like Vitamin E, vitamin B12 stimulates cell reproduction and reduces the dryness and redness of skin. It may also fight against hyperpigmentation, angular cheilitis, and angular stomatitis.

Vitamin E

Of course, there are some vitamins that pep up your skin in particular. Vitamin E, for example, has antioxidant properties that fend off free radicals that may damage the skin. It’s also good for lessening any damage done to your skin by UV rays and promotes cell growth as well.

Natural Oils & Extracts

There’s also a host of natural oils and extracts that promote skin health and dewiness. You’ll find that a lot of the self-tanners on our list include natural oils like argan oil, avocado oil, cocoa oil, coconut oil, and olive oil.

As for the extracts, common names you’ll see are coffee, jojoba, oat, rooibos, safflower, shea, soybean, tapioca, and walnut. Because these botanicals are naturally-derived, they’ll do nothing but nourish and rejuvenate your skin.

Are Self-Tanners Safe?

When used as directed, self-tanners are great alternatives to sunbathing. While DHA is an FDA-approved chemical that’s safe for the skin, you should avoid applying it near the mucus membranes, such as the lips, nose, or delicate skin around the eyes.

So be extra mindful of these areas when you’re applying self-tanner at home. If you’re heading to a sunless tanning booth instead, though, make sure you have an experienced technician doing the job; they’ll know to pay extra attention when applying the sunless tanner around these areas.

How Do I Apply a Self-Tanner?

You’ll get the best results by following the directions on the package. If you don’t have a self-tanner within reach, though, then we’ll break it down for you here:

1. Shave

If you have to shave any part of your body, now is the time to do it. Otherwise, you’ll end up shaving off your brand new tan, and you wouldn’t want that now, would you?

2. Exfoliate

It’s also important to exfoliate before you get down and brown. Use a washcloth or gentle exfoliating product to slough off dead skin cells. You might want to pay a little extra attention to areas where your skin is thicker creased, such as the elbows, knees, and ankles. Pat your skin dry afterward.

3. Moisturize

This isn’t required, but you might get better results by lightly moisturizing your entire body before you apply the self-tanner. Just be careful not to apply too much, though, as the self-tanner won’t absorb as easily into the skin. We recommend using a gel moisturizer that absorbs fast so that you won’t have to wait for too long.

4. Apply

Apply the self-tanner in sections by massaging it into your skin in circles. Many self-tanners come with application mitts to help you spread the color evenly. We highly recommend using these mitts for two reasons: one, so you can apply the color as evenly as possible, and two, so you don’t turn your hands dark brown in the process!

The most important thing to keep in mind, however, is to start from the bottom up. This way, you can make sure your legs are nice and even before moving up to your chest and arms. Don’t be afraid to enlist a little help for your back, either.

5. Watch the Face

Go light when applying self-tanner on your face, or use an entirely different product altogether. Some self-tanners are designed specifically for facial skin, which is usually a bit more sensitive than the skin on the rest of your body. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for people to go a little lighter on the face compared to the rest of the body.

6. Wash Those Hands

Naturally, your hands will be pretty dark by the time you’re done. Scrub those hands as soon as you finish so they don’t turn orange. Make sure to wash the knuckles and fingers extra well so they don’t stain, either.

My Skin Looks Splotchy —  Now What?

Fear not; there are a few great home remedies for skin speckled by self-tanner. Whether you want to buff out a few streaks or remove the fake tan completely, try out some of these tricks:

  • Lemon Juice – Rub a lemon on the darker spots to lighten them up a bit. Lemon juice is a natural exfoliant, so you can even out your tan without using any harsh, synthetic chemicals.
  • Baby Oil – If lemon juice isn’t an option, try baby oil. Drier skin tends to hold onto pigments more, so moisturizing your skin will have the reverse effect. Simply apply a thick layer, wait around 10 to 15 minutes, and then wash it off in the shower.
  • Sugar Scrubs – Use a sugar scrub to buff out any streaks in your fake tan. Plus, you’ll exfoliate your skin at the same time, making it a win-win.
  • Rubbing Alcohol – Rubbing alcohol will help fade any unsightly splotches resulting from a fake tan gone wrong. While it does have the same effect as the other methods mentioned above, rubbing alcohol also has a drying effect on the skin, so use it sparingly.
  • Exfoliating Gloves – With exfoliating gloves, you can take these splotchy matters into your own hands — literally! Wear these handy, lightly abrasive gloves in the shower and rub all over. Not only will you even out your new skin tone, your skin will feel baby-soft afterward.
  • Take a Dip – If it’s warm out, then hop in the pool to wash away those self-tanner streaks. The chlorine in the water will break down the DHA in the self-tanner, making it much easier to wash off.
  • Curdled Milk – Hear us out — we’re not asking you to leave a carton of milk out for a week and then slather it on your skin. You can curdle good milk pretty quickly by letting a slice of lemon sit in a full glass of it. After that, apply the milk mask to your skin and let it sit for 15 minutes. Since milk and lemon juice are both natural exfoliators, they’ll fade your tan pretty gently.
  • Toothpaste – We know — the list is getting crazier as we go on. But you’re probably not shocked to learn that whitening toothpaste can have a similar effect on a dark, uneven tan. Apply a thin layer of whitening toothpaste to the overly-tanned area in question, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wash it off.
  • Self-Tan Remover – If none of these home remedies work, then invest in some self-tan remover, the purpose for which is pretty self-explanatory.

When Should I Apply a Self-Tanner?

The best time to apply a self-tanner is at night, so you can give your skin an uninterrupted chunk of time to let it soak in. Don’t worry about any developing streaks or spots, either; you can always wash those off in the morning. Any lingering streaks and smells should also wash off.

If that isn’t feasible, then apply it in the morning before work or school. You need to keep the self-tanner on for at least six to eight hours so that it can soak in properly. Just make sure you choose a self-tanner that doesn’t stain, unless you want to get caught orange-handed.

Once the six to eight hours have passed, hit the shower to clean up any remaining messes.

How Long Does Self-Tanner Last?

When applied properly, high-quality self-tanners can last up to eight days. But like we just talked about, you’ll first need to wait about six to eight hours in most cases for the self-tanner to really take effect. This is because the DHA in the self-tanner reacts a bit slowly with the dead skin cells, and showering before this time frame is up will only wash the product off altogether.

When it comes to self-tanner, patience is indeed a virtue.

How Can I Make My Fake Tan Last Longer

The secret to making a fake tan last is in the application process. If you apply your self-tanner properly, then you can get some pretty good mileage out of it. Of course, the quality of your self-tanner is important, too; cheaper self-tanners are more prone to splotchy streaks, and may also have brassy, orange undertones. No thanks.

As for the maintenance of your fake tan, though, we have one suggestion: moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Even though pigments bond to drier skin cells more quickly, you’ll be much less likely to shed your top layer of skin cells if you thoroughly moisturize.

You may also want to consider applying aftersun with a teaspoon of self-tanner three to four days after the initial application. The aftersun will moisturize your skin while the dollop of self-tanner will pep up the pigmentation a little.

Does Self-Tanner Come off in the Water?

It depends on what kind of water you’re soaking in. Chlorinated water, like the kind you find in pools, will break down the DHA, the main active ingredient in self-tanners, and cause it to wash off in the pool — especially if you take a dip within four to eight hours of the first application. If you’re unsure about how much of your new fake tan will wash off in the pool, wait a little bit longer.

However, it’s much harder to wash it off in, say, the shower. This is because there are no chemicals or minerals in shower water that’ll be at odds with the DHA. In fact, it’s recommended that you take a shower to clean up your new look six to ten hours after the initial application.

Before You Go A-Bronzin’

Now that you’re armed with plenty of knowledge about what self-tanners are and how they work, we hope you’ll choose one from our top ten list and get the faux glow of your dreams. As always, follow the directions to the T and don’t forget the sunscreen — no matter whether you’re seaside or snowed in.