MY FAVORITE GRADUAL TANNERS (AND THE ONES THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT)

The best gradual self tanners (and the ones to avoid!) | Elle Apparel Blog

Gradual tanning lotion is a great way to maintain a “base tan” without the harmful sun rays. Let’s dive into which ones worked the best for me..

Outfit Details

BLACK LACE SWIM TOP (wearing a small)

SIMILAR BLACK LACE SWIM BOTTOM (wearing a small)

SIMILAR STRAW HAT

BLACK AVIATORS

GOLD INITIAL NECKLACE

 

Gradual tanning lotion is something I’ve been testing and using for years. There are many on the market that don’t work like I would hope for them to work, so I’ve created my tried and true favorite gradual self tanners that I recommend to you. I tried more than a dozen different gradual tanning lotions and narrowed them down to a few that I will continue to wear daily.

The best gradual self tanners

 

Do you uses any of these gradual self tanners on your face?

I don’t use gradual tanners on my face. I either mix my normal foundation with a darker foundation to match my skin, add a subtle golden glow with bronzer, or sometimes I will mix normal tanner with my nighttime cream (more on my favorite long lasting self tanners coming soon). I am extremely picky about lotions I put on my face and I don’t want to risk putting a body lotion on my face for fear it will cause breakouts.

 

 

What makes for a good gradual tanner?

For me, I was looking for a gradual tanner that

  • I can use every single day in place of my body lotion after I shower.
  • One that doesn’t have a gross tanner smell.
  • A formula that is lightweight, doesn’t fast, and doesn’t rub off on my clothes.
  • Something that is cheap enough that I can use daily (around $10), and that I can order online with free shipping.

How do you apply gradual tanner?

Apply it just like you would regular body lotion. The tan is subtle enough that you shouldn’t have to worry too much about it settling in your knees and feet like regular tanners. I always apply a small bit to the backs of my hands, and then wash my hands and dry the palms of my hands and in between my fingers to keep them from turning orange.

MY FAVORITE GRADUAL SELF TANNERS

(IN THE ORDER THAT I LOVE THEM)

 

The best gradual self tanners (and the ones to avoid!) | Elle Apparel Blog

 

BANANA BOAT SUMMER COLOR SELF-TANNING IN DEEP DARK COLOR

MY SCORE: 10/10

PROS:

  • Light floral scent
  • Thin consistency so it dries fast and easily acts as an everyday body lotion.
  • Great true tan color- subtle enough that it can be applied everyday without worrying about streaking, but the color actually shows.
  • UNDER $20 with free 2 day Amazon prime shipping here. BUT you can order 3 for $20 here, which is what I recommend. You just can’t beat that. Trust me, I’ve tried.
  • Dye free, so the color doesn’t rub off on my clothes.
  • Contains Aloe Vera and Vitamin E so it’s very moisturizing.
  • No streaking.

 

CONS:

  • I don’t really have any. Some of the online reviews said they changed the formula to dye free and that it isn’t as dark as it used to be. I’ve only tried the dye free kind and I prefer it this way.

 

 

MINERAL FUSION GRADUAL SELF TAN LOTION IN MEDIUM/DARK

MY SCORE: 7/10

 

PROS:

  • Good true tan color.
  • Lotion is thick with shea butter, so it is extra hydrating.
  • Doesn’t smell like tanner.
  • No streaking.

 

CONS:

  • I’m not a huge fan of the scent, but I think some might like it. It doesn’t smell like tanner, but it smells like a mixture of coconut and macadamia nut. I’m not a fan of coconut and the scent is a little to strong/sweet for me.
  • I found that because the lotions is so thick, it takes a long time to dry, feels too heavy, and I went through the bottle much faster than I wanted to.
  • $16 for 1 bottle (free shipping) is too much for me with the cons I feel like it has, but I would buy it in a pinch.

JERGENS NATURAL GLOW + FIRMING IN MEDIUM TO TAN

MY SCORE: 6/10

  • PROS:
  • Good consistency, not too thick.
  • No dye so it doesn’t rub off on my clothes.
  • Color is much more subtle than the other 2, but it isn’t orange.
  • Price is great, under $10, free 2 day Amazon Prime shipping.

 

CONS:

  • This one smells quite a bit like tanner to me. Smell is big for me, so this was a bummer.
  • It doesn’t get me as dark as I would like and I don’t feel like the color builds very well.

 

So you can clearly see, Banana Boat Self-Tanning Lotion was easily the winner.

I wanted to include my 2nd and 3rd favorites just to give a little variety in case you want to try out all three for yourself, but I will only be purchasing the Banana Boat self-tanning lotion.

 

  • I feel like I need to pay proper homage to Coppertone Gradual Tan. I used this stuff religiously for about 6 years. I recommended it to everyone. Price was right, color, smell, consistency..it was perfect. They discontented it a while ago and I was shocked. When I finally used my last bottle (I had 6 on hand) I set out to find something that was comparable. The Banana Boat Summer Color was the only one that is almost identical. 

 

GRADUAL TANNING LOTIONS THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT:

NIVEA SUN KISSED RADIANCE: Very runny/watery and next to zero color.

ULTA BEAUTY GRADUAL TAN LOTION: Didn’t see any color change in my skin.

LOREAL SUBLIME GLOW DAILY MOISTURIZER: This one gives a small hit of color, but it has shimmer to it, so it felt messy and rubbed off on my clothes. I don’t want shimmer in my everyday lotion.

 

The best gradual self tanners (and the ones to avoid!)

 

I hope this review was helpful for you! I do my best to stay out of the sun, but I always feel better with a bit of a tan on my skin. Stay tuned for my list of my favorite self tanners (true tanners that provide a long lasting tan after one use). I’ve been testing lots and am just about done narrowing down the best one!

*I’ll also be updating this list if I find other gradual self tanners that I love, so make sure you pin this post for easy reference!

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LOVE

My ultimate sunglass guide for every face shape  ||  My tried and true makeup products that last all day  ||  My favorite gold delicate necklaces and how to layer them 

SHOP THIS POST:

 

 

5 Comments

  1. I saw all the ones at the top and couldn’t wait to see if the one I use was your favorite. It is! I have been using the banana boat self tanner for 3 years and love it! I like it better now that it is dye free. It rubbed off on my clothes to easily before and seemed to dye my hands often. Can’t wait for your next self tanner review!

    • I’m so glad that you like it better dye free! That was a huge draw for me. I read so many reviews saying that it was worse now that it’s dye free…I didn’t try it before it was dye free and I love it!

  2. Thank you for reviewing! I’ve used jerkins quiet a bit and I agree the smell is a lot like tanners. Do you use the body lotion on your face too or a separate lotion?

    • I’m glad you agree with me on the Jergens. Its just okay. Banana Boat is the best. I don’t use it on my face because it isn’t a face lotion and I’m scared. I usually add my self tanning spray to my normal face lotion…but not all the time. Mostly I just add bronzer or match my foundation so that my face matched my body. I exfoliate my face every night so tanner just comes off anyway!

  3. So so helpful! Thank you, I’m definitely ordering Banana Boat’s.

    Have you tried St. Tropez’s self-tanners? I used to use the mousse, but then I used the one that you rinse off after 1-3 hours. AMAZING. That’s my favorite.