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..
BLACK LACE SWIM TOP (wearing a small)
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.
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)
MY SCORE: 10/10
- 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.
- 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.
MY SCORE: 7/10
- Good true tan color.
- Lotion is thick with shea butter, so it is extra hydrating.
- Doesn’t smell like tanner.
- No streaking.
- 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.
MY SCORE: 6/10
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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