I have tried so many self-tanners over the years and finally have my favorites that I am sharing in this post. These are the best tanners for pale skin, what I use to tan my face, the best tanner for sensitive skin. I figured out the cost-per-use of each tanners as well, which was interesting and had surprising results!
The first time I tried self-tanning was 23 years ago (!) and I am happy to report that faux tanners have come along way since that very orange experience. Here are all the tanners I have tried, with my personal favorites at the bottom of this post.
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This really does make getting even coverage on my back way easier. I place the tanner right in the center of the applicator and rub it over the center of my back.
shop Fake Bake Body Mate Back Applicator | amazon
This glove comes in the box with most of the Fake Bake brand tanners, but can be purchased separately as well if you want to use a different brand of tanner.
Once you try a plastic lined glove, there is no going back. It keeps your hands and palms totally clean from tanner. You will never have to worry about super dark palms after tanning ever again.
I machine wash this glove and then prop it up on a ventilated shelf to air dry (don’t put in the dryer as the plastic will melt). It’s lasted 7 months at this point with weekly washing and is still in excellent condition: no rips, tears, or signs of wear!
shop Fake Bake Glove | amazon
You’ll notice one consistent thing in my “favorites” list for body tanning: these are all mousse formulas. I love a foam tanning formula, I feel like they are so easy to apply and sink in pretty quickly.
There are way more details on each tanner below this list. Keep scrolling for full details!
1 | Jergen’s Mousse– great for a little color in the winter months, but without dropping major money. Also because it’s so natural, this would be a great self-tanner for beginners.
2 | Ulta Beauty Mousse– a surprisingly great color and formula, also at a great price.
3 | Fake Bake Mousse – I love this formula, shade, and their new lined tanning mitt.
4 | Tarte Mousse – Such a nice, cooler looking tan. Great for sensitive skin.
5 | St. Tropez Mousse – a classic for a reason! Creates such a nice, deep, smooth looking tan every time.
6 | Tarte Lotion – my go-to formula for my face. Pair with a synthetic kabuki brush for easy application.
These are listed in the order shown in the video.
If you love a spray formula, this is a great one. Very even and blends easily. It also has a tinted color guide, so you can make sure you don’t miss any spots.
I prefer foam formulas for speed, but I totally understand why people love sprays. This one has zero stickiness and sinks into skin immediately!
It’s also the darkest of all the tanners and they make an even darker version, so if you want a deep, dark tan, this spray formula might be right for you.
6 oz | $31
Cost Per Tan | approx 4 uses per bottle = $7.75 per tan (also, $8 mitt included for free in box)
shop Fake Bake Flawless Self Tan Liquid Spray | ulta . amazon (set comes with back tanning applicator)
This is such a great tanner. I love a foam formula, to me they spread the easiest and fastest. Foams are my personal favorite formula.
This one has a color guide, meaning it comes out tinted and gets darker until showering, so I can make sure I’m evenly applied and blended. I love the finished, post-shower color of the tan. Super natural and even. A real hit!
I do find this foam to sink into my skin pretty quickly and there is no sticky feel. This tanning foam comes with a their $8, must-have lined mitt.
Cost Per Tan | approx 7.5 uses = $4.13 per tan (also, $8 mitt included for free in box)
shop Fake Bake Flawless Mousse |ulta beauty
I know so many people who swear by this tanner! For me though, I just could not get it to blend evenly. I tried everything and got a blotchy tan every time.
I will use up the bottle during winter months just to use it up, but sadly would not repurchase. I was so surprised, as this brand came really highly recommended to me.
4 oz | $40 – 6.7 oz | $60
Cost Per Tan | approx 5 uses = $8 per tan
shop Loving Tan Mousse | ulta beauty
This is another mousse formula with great, natural looking results. If you want just a hint of color, this is the one for you.
However, the formula is incredibly sticky, I could only leave it on for 4 hours before having to shower, even though you are supposed to leave on for 8 hours. I couldn’t couldn’t handle my skin feel so sticky.
Even after showering early, I still got a great super natural looking tan. This was the most subtle of all the tanners I tried and I think would be great for the person who wants just a hint of natural looking color. Just be prepared to feel very sticky for a few hours.
6 oz | $12
Cost Per Tan | approx 7 uses = $1.71 per tan
shop Jergen’s Instant Sun Mousse | ulta . amazon
St. Tropez tanners are classics for a reason: I always get a natural, even, beautiful tan. I love this foam formula.
I get consistent results that are dark, but natural looking. Even on my palest winter skin, I never get a weird “too-dark” tan transition from wrists to hands.
This is their classic mousse formula. They also have an Express mousse which is also nice! I will probably pick that one up next, but wanted to finish this bottle first.
I do recommend using body lotion consistently for a few days after using this self-tanner, as it does dry out my skin more than other formulas.
The St. Tropez classic tanners do have a color guide, which I love and need to get an even tan. I really need that tint while applying or else I get blotchy tans.
Surprisingly, the St. Tropez also turned out to be one of the most cost effective tans! I got eight full tans from the 8 oz bottle.
4 oz | $32 – 8 oz $42
Cost Per Tan | approx 8 tans (8 oz) = $5.25 per tan
shop St Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse | ulta . sephora . amazon
This foam tanner from Ulta Beauty caught me totally by surprise! It’s a great, natural looking formula, with a fairly light scent.
It does have a tinted “color guide” but I did find that I had to put a tiny bit more work to make sure it was all blended to prevent patchy spots. But overall, it’s a great color and a great price!
6.76 oz | $13
Cost Per Tan | approx 6 uses = $2.16 per tan
shop ulta tanning mousse | ulta beauty
I always get nervous when I see “coconut” listed as an ingredient, as my skin doesn’t like coconut based products, but this one worked well for me! I felt like it applied easily, sunk into my skin quickly, and I loved the shade.
If you love lotion style tanners, you will love the extra lightweight feel of this serum tanner.
5 oz | $31
Cost Per Tan | the bottle is too opaque to tell. I will update with how many uses I got, once I’ve used it up. I feel like I will get 3 tans out of this bottle.
shop Fake Bake Coconut Serum | ulta beauty
I can’t believe I waited so long to try this tanner! The lotion version is my go-to face tanning product, as you’ll see below. I realized I’d never tried their mousse for body.
It’s every bit as fabulous as the lotion, but in the foam version that I prefer for body application. The tan is cooler and incredibly natural looking. The foam wasn’t sticky and dried down quickly.
I absolutely love the color and feel of this tan and will 100% repurchase!
7.1 oz | $39
Cost per Tan | approx 6.5 tans (7.1 oz) = $6 per tan
shop Tarte Foam | tarte cosmetics . sephora
This is my go-to self tanner for my face! It’s super gentle and gives the most perfect, natural looking tan. It’s not too warm of a finish, so it never looks fake on me, even when I pile on a few layers for a face “tantour.”
I love, love, love this product. It is gentle on my skin and never clogs my pores. I can not emphasize enough that this is such a great tanning product for face, even though it’s not advertised as a face tanner.
It has a subtle, warm baked goods scent, which might sound weird (I always expect a coconut scent with tanners) but I love the scent! It does not linger after you’ve rinsed the tanner off.
I purchase the smaller, travel size bottle and I use it twice a week. I apply it with this synthetic bristle kabuki brush in a circular buffing motion.
1.7 oz | $10 – 5.5 oz | $39
shop Tarte Lotion | ulta beauty . ulta travel . tarte cosmetics . tarte travel set . sephora
Related | My Amazon Best-Of Self Tanners List
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I hope this post and the video are helpful! I love the look of a fresh tan year round, so hopefully these picks will be useful for you as well.
Thank you for reading and being a part of the blog!
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