The Ultimate Guide to Self Tanners

March 17, 2017
Jessie Quinn
By: Jessie Quinn | by L'Oréal
The Ultimate Guide to Self Tanners

Whether you’re looking for a way to enhance the look of your summer glow, or hoping to provide your winter skin with some natural-looking color, self-tanners are always in season. But, with so many different ones to choose from, how do you know what type of self-tanner is right for you? We’ve got you covered with our ultimate guide to self-tanners—but, first, let’s review how to prep and prime your skin for self-tanner application.


Before you apply any type of self-tanner, you’ll want to make sure that you start with a clean, exfoliated, and well-hydrated canvas. This can not only help you achieve a more perfect-looking tan, it can help you avoid any mistakes—think: zebra-like streaks—too. To learn how to prep your skin for self-tanner application, see our step-by-step guide below.

1.     Cleanse: Before you apply self-tanner, it’s important to start with a clean surface. We recommend jumping in the shower and giving your body a nice cleanse with a nourishing body wash.

2.     Exfoliate: After you cleanse, it’s time to exfoliate. When it comes to self-tanner application, exfoliation is key. Exfoliating your skin with a body scrub can help slough away dry, dead skin cell buildup lingering on the skin’s surface that can cause your tan to appear uneven.

3.     Hydrate: After you exfoliate, you’ll want to use a lightweight moisturizer to help lock in some of the hydration from your shower and ensure that your skin looks and feels soft and comfortable before application. Be sure to give extra attention to the rougher areas of skin—read: elbows, knees, and ankles. Since these areas are often drier than others they can end up soaking up extra self-tanner leaving your skin looking darker in these areas than on the rest of your body. 

Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s talk self-tanners. From lotion to gel to a wash-off formulas that can give you an instant bronze, peep our ultimate guide to all the different types of self-tanners—and recommended products from L’Oréal Paris—ahead.


Perhaps one of the most popular self-tanners out there, self-tanning lotions can moisturize the skin and give it a natural-looking tan. One of our go-to self-tanning lotions is L’Oréal Paris’ Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Lotion. Formulated with nourishing ingredients—such as, vitamin E—the self-tanning lotion can hydrate the surface layer of the skin while a natural-looking sunless tan develops.

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Lotion, $10.99 MSRP


If you’ve never tried self-tanner towels, you’re seriously missing out. Perfect for on-the-go (or in your carry-on bag), the convenient and easy-to-use self-tanning towels can deliver a natural-looking tan, sans the streaks. If you’re looking for a self-tanning towel that is affordable and effective we recommend reaching for L’Oréal Paris’ Sublime Bronze Towelettes For Body. Formulated with skin nourishing vitamin E, this self-tanner towel contains enough self-tanner for one application and can hydrate the skin while a gorgeous faux glow develops.

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Towelettes For Body, $10.99 MSRP 


Think serums are reserved for powerful anti-aging ingredients and other highly concentrated skin care formulas? Think again! Self-tanning serums are totally a thing, and we totally can’t get enough of them. One reason why we love self-tanning serums so much is because they can allow you to have more control over the shade you wish to achieve—you can use the serum on its own to achieve a darker-looking tan, or mix a bit of serum into your body lotion to achieve a more subtle-looking glow. One of our favorite self-tanning serums is L’Oréal Paris’ Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Serum. Fast drying and easy to apply, use the affordable self-tanning serum for three consecutive days to achieve a gorgeous, natural-looking tan that can last up to two weeks.

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Serum, $10.99 MSRP


Looking for a way to get a perfect-looking airbrushed tan at home? Give self-tanning mist a try! Inspired by professional techniques, self-tanning mists can give the skin flawless-looking coverage. And one of our favorite ways to achieve an airbrushed-looking tan is with L’Oréal Paris’ Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrushed Self-Tanning Mist. Equipped with a 360° wide angle applicator, the drugstore self-tanning mist can make for easy application for a salon-worthy airbrushed tan. What’s more? The self-tanning formula is enriched with skin nourishing vitamin E to nourish and protect, leaving you with softer, smoother, more golden-looking skin.

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrushed Self-Tanning Mist, $10.99 MSRP


Looking for a self-tanning lotion that is less creamy and more lightweight than your typical self-tanning lotion? Reach for a self-tanning gel or jelly! The lightweight self-tanner can glide onto the skin easily, making for an easy, streak-free application. One self-tanning gel we love is L’Oréal Paris’ Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Gelee. The quick-drying, skin hydrating self-tanner moisturizes and provides skin with an even-looking faux glow, no matter the season.

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Gelee, $10.99 MSRP  


Want to self-tan without the commitment? Reach for a bronzing formula that can give you a perfect-looking, sun-kissed glow and can be rinsed off at the end of the day. One of our favorite wash-off bronzing formulas is L’Oréal Paris’ Sublime Bronze Summer Express Wash-Off Body Makeup Lotion. The zero commitment formula can blur skin imperfections and give you an instant tan, too! What’s more? The formula is sweat-resistant and can offer all day hydration, too!

L’Oréal Paris Summer Express Wash-Off Body Makeup Lotion, $10.99 MSRP

Made a mistake? Don’t panic! We share how to fix self-tanner mistakes, here. 

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