Self tanners have come a long way, baby. Gone are the days when a smidge too much tanner meant looking like you ate too many carrots or dipped your hands in orange paint; gone also are the terrible odors of products past. Now there are multiple ways to get glowing—do you prefer a mousse? Drops? A cream? All are safer than lying out and soaking up the real stuff. Here’s what to consider if you want to self-tan, vitamin D not included.

  • Find Your Formulation: There are serums, moisturizers, drops, mousses, towelettes, and more ways to get that sun-baked look. Each application type has a pro and a con (e.g. aerosol sprays are easy to apply, but hard to get on evenly).
  • Pick the Right Depth: Some brands offer different levels of darkness—e.g. light, medium, dark, super dark. So if what you’re after is a natural-looking sun-kissed bod, be sure to pick a formulation that’s the right shade for your complexion. And make sure to prepare your skin beforehand and have the right tools on hand for even application.
  • Consider Your Skin: Is your skin oily? Dry? Sensitive? Take those same considerations into account when picking a self tanner. For example, if your epidermis is easily irritated, opt for a self tanner with all-natural ingredients. If you need extra hydration, consider a combo self-tanner/hyaluronic acid drop.

Our Picks for the Best Self Tanners on Amazon

Top Pick Overall: Beauty by Earth Self Tanner

Top Pick

This easy-to-apply layerable option is packed with awesome ingredients like green tea extract and coconut oil. Made without toxic chemicals, this formulation is packaged in an FDA-certified lab in the U.S.
Beauty by Earth

Runner-Up: Bondi Sands Self Tanner


No FOMO here! You can control the color of this mousse, which features nourishing ingredients, simply by adjusting how long you leave it on. Bondi Sands

Budget Pick: Ӧkostein Bronzing Mousse

Budget Pick

This paraben-free option is packed with vitamin E, aloe vera, and coconut, so you get silky-smooth skin while you bronze it! Adjust your color by adding layers of application. Ökostein

Also Consider: Isle of Paradise Fake Tan Drops

Also Consider

Violet color-correcting actives guarantee just the right shade of bronze. Grapefruit extract, and chia seed, avocado, coconut, and eucalyptus oils make it gentle enough for your body and face. Isle of Paradise

Better You is a shopping-advice and product-review site brought to you by the publishers of Popular Science and Outdoor Life magazines. We’re here to help you choose among the most popular products on Amazon, and hidden gems our experts think are worth checking out.