If you’re new to applying self-tanner, experts suggest testing a lighter-toned formula at first to minimize the look of potential mistakes, patches, and streaks. “Once you get used to using a classic shade and you wish to go darker, you will have the confidence to use the darkest formula,” self-tanning expert and St. Tropez brand ambassador Sophie Evans previously told Allure.
To save you from playing chicken with a million formulas, we compiled the best sunless tanners in the form of mousses, lotions, and even tanning mists that’ll have your friends wondering where you got that streak-free tan without jetting off to a tropical destination. Stick to these expert-approved self-tanning products and your beloved sunscreens for a healthy, UV-damage-free bronze — and thank us later.
How we test and review products
We always enlist a range of testers for any review, but self-tanners are another story. While some can be used across different skin tones, textures, and concerns, many are created with specific consumers and their needs in mind. When reviewing self-tanning products, we also take into account testers’ experience levels. For instance, an innovative new formula may provide the perfect bronzed glow, but if there’s a streaky learning curve for sel-tan beginners, we have to consider this when determining whether it is worthy of a recommendation.
For our review of the best self-tanners, we enlisted the help of multiple editors, writers, contributors, and experts we’ve interviewed for the piece — who all have different skin tones, concerns, types, and desired outcome (i.e., subtle versus dramatic). Testers considered performance across three primary categories: efficacy, ease of use, and value. For more on what’s involved in our reporting, check out our complete reviews process and methodology page.
Our staff and testers
A beauty product is a personal purchase. You might be searching for a face cream to address persistent dryness or a new nail product to add to your Sunday self-care routine; you may simply be browsing around for the latest launches to hit the hair market. No matter what you seek or your individual needs and concerns, Allure wants to ensure that you love anything we recommend in our stories. We believe that having a diverse team of writers and editors — in addition to the wide range of outside testers and industry experts we regularly call upon — is essential to reaching that goal.
After all, can we say a skin-care product is the “best” for people over 50 if the only testers we’ve solicited opinions from folks who have yet to hit 30? Can we honestly deem a high-end diffuser worthy of your hard-earned cash if it’s never been tested on curls? We’re proud that our staff spans a wide range of ages, skin tones, hair textures, genders, and backgrounds, which means that we can fairly assess any beauty product that comes into the beauty closet.