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If you’re anything like me and feel practically nude without a faux-tan on, you know that sunless tanning technology has made major progress in recent years, making it so much easier to skip pricey in-salon spray jobs and give yourself a somewhat professional-looking sunless glow yourself, and right from the comfort of your own bathroom. Despite this progress though, DIY self-tanning isn’t exactly beginner-friendly, and even if you do happen to consider yourself a pro, it’s definitely not fool-proof either. Fortunately, there are several self-tan hacks and plenty of newly launched ( and utterly game-changing) sunless bronzing products to ensure you end up with an even bronze glow, and not a streaky orange mishap that you’re stuck with for up to a week.
Whether you’re looking for an option that delivers instant-gratification results by way of an imperfection-blurring wash of color that’ll last for just the day, or you’re just on the hunt for a gradual (read: safe) glow that will survive your week-long beach vacation without streaking and fading, there are plenty of under-the-radar alternatives to test out this season (and year-round, for that matter) that are much more user-friendly than the old-school foam and lotion formulas we’re used to dealing with.
There’s even a new trend surfacing as of late that combines skincare ~and~ self-tanner, and a viral TikTok DIY hack that allows you to spray on your liquid tanning formula without the fuss or streaks—more on that later. While gradual tanning products often tend to come out either too pigmented (hello, orange palms, knuckles, and ankles) or are so subtle that you can’t see a visible difference, these effective solutions get it just right. As a caveat, I will say that some of the products mentioned below (including my personal favorite, the Tan-Luxe serum) will stain your hands, so make sure to rinse with soap and warm water after you apply it to your face. Scroll through below to check out these innovative self-tanning products, and go ahead and get that faux glow on.
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Beautify Beauties Flairosol Spray Bottle
Beauty-savvy TikTokers are using this cheap spray bottle to apply their self-tanner. This genius hack for bronzing the face went viral a month or so ago, and is still going strong. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it first, TBH. Simply add in your favorite liquid self-tanning formula, like the eco-friendly Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Water Refill Pouch or the Tanologist formula as seen in the original TikTok video linked below.
Tanologist Self-Tanning Water
Self-tanning can be messy, and it’s not exactly always transfer-proof. While a golden bronze looks great on your body, no one wants to see it on their cream-hued sofa. This genius tanning water is completely clear upon application and gradually transforms to a brown glow as it develops, meaning your furniture and white sheets won’t get destroyed.
Kabuki Brush for Sunless Tanner
Another genius application hack and tool hybrid, this Kabuki brush looks like it’s for foundation, but it’s designed specifically to apply your self-tanner to the face, chest, neck, and “problem areas” like the knees, ankles, and hands. It’s a true game-changer.
Beautycounter Countersun Tinted Mineral Sunscreen
This spray-on SPF is not only a solid mineral sun protectant, it also doubles as an instant body bronzer, with major imperfection-blurring properties. It kind of reminds of Sally Hansen’s infamous Airbrush Legs body makeup, but I like this formula even better. It’s pretty pigmented though, so make sure to apply before you hit the pool to give it adequate time to dry down.
Tan-Luxe Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum
It’s no secret that I find Tan-Luxe self-tanning skincare mix-ins to be nothing short of genius. While I love their original formula (which you simply drop into your favorite serum or moisturizer before bed), this hyaluronic serum knocks out both in one fool-proof product.
SOL By Jergens Sunless Tanning Serum
The concept may not be new, but if you’re looking for an affordable alternative to Tan-Luxe’s self-tanning drops or other premium sunless tanning serums, this newly-launched Sunless Tanning Serum is a great affordable alternative that delivers a natural result.
St. Tropez Prep & Maintain Tanner Mousse
I wish I had known about this self-tan remover much sooner. Most of us have suffered from a self-tan gone wrong at some point in our lives, and DIY removal hacks aren’t always the most effective, but this one is. It also doubles a pre-tan prep, too.
Coco & Eve Exfoliating Hand Mitt
You already know it’s important to prep the skin before applying fresh tanner and one of the most effective ways of removing an old tan, but this double-sided hand mitt makes the process fast and foolproof.
Coola Sunless Tan Luminzing Compact
The convenience of virtually any beauty product packaged in an on-the-go-friendly compact is alluring, but I’ve never before seen a self-tanner in this form. It’s a super buildable gel-like formula that gives you a super natural-looking bronze without the hassle or mess. I’m packing this one with me for all of my future vacations going forward.
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad Intense Glow for Face
One of my favorite skincare products is my exfoliating pads — I use one basically every morning. When I discovered these self-tanning-infused Glow Pads, I was instantly intrigued. They deposit a wash of non-orange and streak-free color while also exfoliating away dead skin for a radiant glow.