I tried every self tanner I could get my hands on, and I narrowed them down to my three favorites that give me the deepest tan on the first application.
I like to consider myself a fake tanning pro. Not one ounce of color on my skin is from the actual sun, and it’s hasn’t been for quite a few years. I’m picky in general, but I am extra picky when it comes to self tanners. They need to look natural, last long, fade evenly, and most importantly deliver on the color. I use a gradual self tanner daily as my moisturizer to keep a light base tan (I wrote about my favorite in this post), but about once a week I use a dark self tanner.
I used this self tanner for years (which is still a great option) but I found that in order to get a nice dark tan, I needed to do a full application at least two days in a row. I don’t have the time or desire to be covered in tanner any longer than I absolutely need to be, so I decided to see if there were other self tanners on the market that would give me a dark, natural looking tan on the first application.
I tried every single self tanner pictured below multiple times. I was disappointed when many of them seemed to almost completely rinse off down the drain after the first shower, and needed a second application. I will say that I was impressed with a majority of the color in the tanners below, I just wished they stayed dark once it was time to rinse off.
Here are my top 3 favorite tanners in the order that I loved them…
Many people swear by other St. Tropez self tanners, and to be honest.. I have tried others and haven’t loved them. This one I loved. It has a green undertone, so the tan turned out dark and natural looking. The mousse made for a clean and easy application. I read a few negative reviews on this and I personally don’t agree with them (just make sure to go lighter or use a barrier cream on your knees and ankles, and apply in circles for an even tan). This tanner got me very dark and stayed dark after showering! One application gave me a nice than that lasted for a full week. When it faded, it faded evenly. One bottle lasted me about 4 months and I used it almost weekly. A little goes a long way.
I’ve been using this tanner for well over a year. At under $20 you can’t beat the price for the quality of tan you get from this bottle. I used the original Fake Bake for about a year before discovering Flawless Darker. This tanner gives me a super dark tan on the first application, doesn’t rinse off after the first shower, and lasts a full week. It goes on really well and I’ve never had a problem with streaky color with this tanner. The con with this one is that the spray application is a bit messy. I spray the tanner on my mitt in the sink, but I do have to make sure I am not putting on the tanner standing on my bath mats, because I’ve had the solution drip on my bath mats before. The tan fades pretty evenly, but does get a bit splotchy around the ankles and knees as it fades, but I usually exfoliate after a week anyway to remove the leftover tanner before reapplying.
The color on this tanner is fantastic. Such a gorgeous dark tan. The green undertones on this shade really make the tan look natural. The color is the the best part about this tanner. This one stays dark as well after the first application, but it faded a little quicker than the other two, lasting only about 4-5 days. It doesn’t fade quite as evenly as the St. Tropez. The spray on the bottle worked best when I sprayed my tanning mitt, and then applied it to my body. I tried spraying directly on my body, but had to use the mitt to make the tanner went on evenly. I think I like the color of this tanner a bit more than the Fake Bake, but it’s double the price of the Fake Bake. I used this tanner a bit more sparingly, saving it for before shooting swim looks because it gave me such a natural looking tan. Mystic Tan also has lots of great variations of tan colors (I tested them all on me, the Mocha-Kissed worked best with my pink undertones in my skin). I wouldn’t recommend the lotion version of this tanner. I tried it and it washed right off the next day.
I do want to give an honorable mention to MILLION DOLLAR TAN MERMAID MOUSSE EXTREME. This is another great mousse option. Tanning mousse is by far my favorite way to apply tanner. This color is a bit more orange than the St. Tropez and wasn’t as dark, but it smells amazing and is $12 cheaper.
I usually apply my self tanner in the morning on a day where I am home working at the house to give it plenty of time to dry. If I applied it at night I just slept in long sleeves and pants. It does come off on my sheets, but I just sleep in it the day before I wash sheets and the tanner always comes out!
TO TAN MY FACE
I don’t use these tanners on my face. I would prefer to use a self tanner specifically made for the face. My favorite face tanner is the TAN-LUXE DROPS in Med/Dark. I just add 2 drops (drops…not droppers full) to my daily sunscreen or moisturizer, then wash my hands after applying. These drops only last on my face for about 2-3 days because nightly cleansing/exfoliating removes the tanner pretty quick. But I’ve never had one breakout using these and I have sensitive skin!
*Pro tip: Use these tan drops in the am. When I use them at night, it wipes off on my pillow and I don’t get as even of a tan.
SHOP ALL MY FAVORITE SUNLESS TANNERS: