Warm weather is at our finger tips, and having some color when summer it arrives can make you feel fabulous. Unfortunately, laying out in the sun in your swimsuit or baking in a tanning bed aren’t the safest ways to go about bronzing your skin.
The rates of melanoma are at an all-time high right now. Though melanoma only accounts for one percent of skin cancers, it causes a majority of skin cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. As you age, your likelihood of getting melanoma increases, so using sunscreen and a self-tanner will keep your skin protected and hydrated. While we don’t want to be afraid of the sun — we do need our vitamin D! — it’s important to know what safety precautions you should take to stay healthy.
If it’s the sun’s warmth that makes you happy, use an SPF of at least 15 and reapply it every two hours, or immediately after drying off if you’ve been in water. If it’s the bronze color you want, there are easy ways to develop a tan that will keep your skin youthful and free of damage. We have a list of oils, mists, lotions, towels, and liquids that will deliver a stunning, sunny glow you can rock safely all summer long.
How to Apply Self-Tanner
We recommend applying self-tanner in your bathroom, but if the room is too small, just be sure to move furniture or fabric out of the way. Moisturize your elbows, knees, wrists, and ankles, then pump out some product onto your tanning mitt — although if you’re using a tanner in a spray can, it’s easier to apply to your skin first. Using big and small circular motions, gently rub the product on your skin until you’re evenly coated. If you need to touch up any spots, use a wet wipe, like Kleenex Wet Wipes Gentle Clean ($1.49, Target), to remove excess self-tanner. Let it dry for a bit, then go back and see if there are any spots you missed. Once you’re finished, allow it to dry. It will get darker as time passes, and before you know it, you’ll have the perfect summer tan!
Best Tips for Self-Tanners
There are a few great tricks and tips you can do before, during, and after applying sunless tanner to make the process go smoothly and to make your tan last longer. Before application, use a dry brush to improve circulation and reduce cellulite or use a body scrub while you’re in the shower to remove dead skin cells. This gives you an even, smooth surface to apply the self-tanner.
After drying off, be sure to moisturize the parts of your body that are wrinkled or have more skin, like your knees, ankles, wrists, and elbows. Being mindful of this will prevent formula from building up and leaving marks, streaks, and discoloration. If you find you can’t reach some areas on your back, place your tanning mitt over the head of a dry brush and reach behind to cover the full surface area.
After application, wait at least six hours before getting wet. This ensures your tanner won’t wash off or streak and leave bare blotches. Wear dark clothes after you apply to prevent stains. If you’re looking to speed up the drying process, use your blow dryer on the lowest, coolest setting and sweep back and forth for several minutes.
Shop the best self-tanners for mature skin below!
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
Tanning For Older Skin
1. Best Self-Tanner for Sensitive Skin
With aging, we often lose hydration. So when you're looking for the best self-tanner, one with moisturizing properties will not only make your tan look smoother, it will also help with your anti-aging routine. A lack of moisture creates fine lines and wrinkles, so boosting your skin's water levels can leave it looking plump and youthful. Vita Liberata Fabulous Tinted Self Tanning Lotion is an ultra-hydrating formula with nourishing organic botanical ingredients. It's free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, fragrance, and alcohol, which helps sensitive, dry skin heal.
Where to buy: $30, Nordstrom
Top Rate Self Tanners
2. Best Moisturizing Self-Tanner
Josie Maran's Argan Liquid Gold Self-Tanning Oil is moisturizing and smells delicious. Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a common ingredient found in self-tanners, helps the skin get a golden brown tone instead of the infamous orange hue. The Liquid Gold oil contains a natural, plant-based DHA, which offers a healthier, vegan way to build your glow. Aloe juice, argan oil, and coconut water are blended together to nourish and soothe your skin while giving you a safe tan.
Where to buy: $39, Sephora
Best Self Tanner Over 50
3. Best Natural Tan Lotion
Tan Extender Moisturizing Lotion from Gold Mountain Beauty gives you a gradual and long-lasting tan, making it easier to maintain your glow all throughout summer. This formula can help reduce the appearance of cellulite, plus ingredients like caffeine extract and niacinamide leave your skin looking firmer and hydrated.
Where to buy: $19.97, Amazon
Best Self Tanner For Mature Skin
4. Best Self-Tanning Oil for Women Over 50
COOLA's Sunless Tan Dry Body Oil Mist masks any unpleasant odors with its delightful pineapple-coconut aroma, so you smell like you're fresh from the tropics. The consistency of this dry body oil leaves your skin feeling soft and supple once you've finished applying it. A handful of potent antioxidants as well as vitamin C are loaded into this mist, so you can feel satisfied that your self-tanner is working against the aging process.
Where to buy: $46, Sephora
Gradual Self Tanner
5. Best Organic Self-Tanner
Beauty by Earth's Self Tanner is composed of organic ingredients, and its results are just as good as any other sunless tanning lotion. Smoothing this creamy lotion on your skin will help revive it with organic shea butter and coconut oil, banishing dry patches and a dehydrated epidermis. The color is easily buildable, and you'll have a natural-looking bronzed complexion after a few uses.
Where to buy: $29.99, Amazon
What Is The Best Self Tanner
6. Best Tanning Mousse
St. Tropez's quick-drying and moisturizing Self Tan Bronzing Mousse will feel like silk gliding onto your skin. Its DHA-based formula gives you a deeper brown tone that makes it look like you just got back from Bora Bora, not the tanning booth. St. Tropez looks great on any skin tone whether you're fair-skinned or have a darker complexion.
Where to buy: $35.70, Amazon
Self Tanner With Anti Aging Complex
7. Best Self-Tanner for Face
Finding a self-tanner for your body is simple, but it's not always so easy finding one that works well for your face, especially if you have sensitive or breakout-prone skin. COOLA Suncare's Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum works wonders and is made with moisturizing hyaluronic acid and argan oil. Don't be fearful if you have sun or age spots, as this product won't darken or draw more attention to them. All you'll be emphasizing now is your new, sun-kissed face.
Where to buy: $54, Amazon
Anti Aging Self Tanner
8. Best Self-Tanner With SPF
Tan Towel SPF 30 Bronzing Sunscreen Mist makes it possible to enjoy the sun and get a tan without soaking up the the harmful rays. Its water-resistant formula gives you a gorgeous, tawny hue while protecting your skin with a broad-spectrum SPF. This two-in-one sunscreen and sunless tanner is a must for any summer trip, so you can prolong your glow and avoid accidentally looking like a lobster.
Where to buy: $25.60, Amazon
Best Self Tanning Lotion
9. Best Self-Tanner Towelettes
Kate Sommerville 360-Degree Tanning Towelettes make getting a sunless tan a breeze. Simply unwrap a towelette, give your body and face a few quick swipes, and can get a pretty, summer-ready tan. The bronze color will develop over the course of two to four hours, and if you want it darker simply use another wipe. There's no odor, streaks, or messy liquids or creams. It streamlines your tanning process to a quick couple of minutes, which makes it a perfect makeup bag travel companion, too.
Where to buy: $48, Sephora
Sunless Tanning Lotion
10. Best Self-Tanner for Fair Skin
Flawless by Fake Bake's Self-Tanning Liquid Solution gives a pretty glow that isn't unrealistically dark for snow white skin, and it doesn't give off an orange tint either. This quick-drying formula has a pleasant tropical scent and is made up of DHA, DMI, and erythrulose to help you achieve a natural, long-lasting tone. One Amazon buyer said, "I am absolutely obsessed with this self tanner!!! No streaks, I DO NOT look orange or any other funky color! I look like I tanned in a bed, for weeks!"
Where to buy: $18.46, Amazon
Best Drugstore Self Tanner
11. Best Drugstore Self-Tanner
Jergens has been in the sunless tanner business for a long time and for good reason. The Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer easily makes self-tanning fit into your everyday routine. Replace your go-to body lotion with it and over the course of a few days you'll begin developing a gorgeous, natural tan. It's loaded with antioxidants like vitamin E and has plenty of hydration for your skin.
Where to buy: $9.80, Amazon
Best Tanning Mitt
12. Best Tanning Mitt
The secret to a flawless tan is using a mitt — promise! Using your hands can leave streaks, patches, and turn your palms and knuckles orange. This Versa Spa Sunless Applicator is easy to use Even better, you can toss it in the wash to clean, unlike the disposable ones that you have to replace after several uses. Put your sunless tanning lotion or foam directly on the mitt and rub in circles, being mindful of blending any lines. If you're using an oil or spray, we recommend spraying it on the skin rather than the mitt and blending from there. Use any leftover residue to lightly run over your fingers and toes to avoid a stark contrast. Some self-tanners can be used on both body and face, but you should stick to products made specifically for your face if you have sensitive skin.
Where to buy: $7.99, Amazon