As we pull our favorite skirts out of storage and start stocking up on the latest styles for this spring, it’s becoming more and more apparent each day that it’s been quite a while since the last time our legs have seen the light of day. Considering how serious we take sun protection, we’re not about to sprawl out in the sun without sunscreen just to soak up a bit of color, so the logical next step is self-tanners. We’ve tested just about every self-tanning lotion, mousse, gel, mist and towelette under the sun (pun intended), so we’ve become pretty well-versed in how to apply self-tanner, which kind to use, and which self-tanner is best for the kind of needs we have.
Depending on if you’ve got sensitive or dry skin, you’re heading out in a hurry or you’ve got a week to prep for vacation, the type of self-tanner you use makes a huge difference. To help you narrow down your search to find the best self-tanner for you, we’ve rounded up one for every kind of need (from skin that needs to be firmed to hard to reach areas). Take a look at the self-tanner guide above and tell us which you’ll be using in the comments below!
More Self-Tanning Tips From Beauty High:
Get Ready For Spring With These Self-Tanners
Beauty 101: Your Complete Guide to Exfoliants
8 Expert Skin Care Tips You Need to Know Before Spending Time in the Sun
Find the best self-tanner for your skin, no matter what you need!
If you've got sensitive skin, opt for self-tanning milk instead of another kind of substance. This one from Decleor boosts skin's natural defenses before spending time in the sun and reduces intolerance reactions so your skin won't have a bad reaction to a harsh chemical.
(Decleor Aroma Sun Expert Self-Tanning Milk Natural Glow, $35, Nordstrom.com)
If you want to avoid the sticky, gross feeling that unfortunately comes with so many self-tanners, mousse is a good bet. St. Tropez dries in 60 seconds and contains aloe vera, so your skin won't be angry with you after you bronze.
(St. Tropez Self-Tan Bronzing Mousse, $32, Sephora.com)
For an instant tan boost, up your color with an instant self-tanner. Regardless of whether you're applying for the first time of the season or you just want to amp up your already bronze skin, this instant fix will do just that.
(Victoria's Secret Instant Bronzing Tinted Shimmer Lotion, $15, Victoria's Secret)
To gear up for spring skirts or an upcoming vacation, choose a gradual self-tanner to keep things looking as natural as possible. The Self TANtalizer from Lorac is formulated with pomegranate seed oils to keep your skin hydrated while delivering gradual color all over.
(Lorac Self TANtalizer Bronzing Gradual Self-Tanner with Mitt, $34, Sephora.com)
For all skin types that want color, we love Kate Somerville's Tanning Towelettes. They're paraben-free so they're good for your skin, plus they're probably the easiest way to apply self-tanner we've ever come across. Your tan will appear 2-4 hours after application and streaks aren't an option with this process.
(Kate Somerville Somerville360 Tanning Towelettes, $48, NeimanMarcus.com)
Looking to firm up your skin as you tan? We love a good double duty product, and this self-tan plus firming lotion from Jergens does the trick. Applying daily will keep your skin glowing and firmer, so we think that's a win-win.
(Jergens Natural Glow Firming Daily Moisturizer, $10.99, Walgreens.com)
Sometimes there are places we just can't reach with self-tanner, which is where the mist application comes in handy. For an all-over tan with a no rub application and an airbrush finish, try a self-tan mist. This is especially handy for reaching your back when your friend or roommate can't help!
(Neutrogena Micro-Mist Tanning Sunless Spray, $9.90, Soap.com)
Self-tanning gel is a great option for avoiding that greasy, oily feel, and this instant gel from Clarins is one of our favorites. When you're running out the door and you realize your legs haven't seen the sun in longer than you can remember, reach for this gel.
(Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel, $36, Clarins.com)