The fact that you’re here tells me two things about you.
First, you’re smart.
And second, you want to look good.
Happily, it’s easy to get bronzed without the risks of tanning indoors or outside.
Also, modern formulas don’t streak or turn your skin orange.
That’s why today I’ll review the best self tanners for fair and pale skin.
Which Is the Best Fake Tan for Pale Skin?
The best sunless tanners for fair skin give you gradual color.
The golden bronze develops over the course of a few hours. Plus, if you repeat the treatment the following day, it deepens even more.
Moreover, the best top sunless tanning products are straightforward to use at home.
They are available as sprays, mousses, lotions, and serums.
In most cases, you won’t need any additional equipment to apply them.
How Does Sunless Tanning Work?
The majority of self tanners use DHA (dihydroxyacetone) to simulate a tan (1).
This ingredient reacts with the skin’s surface similar to the way that a sliced apple turns brown.
You don’t need to expose your skin to sunlight for DHA to work.
In fact, it’s essential to wear sunscreen if you go outdoors after using self tanner.
The FDA has approved DHA for topical use as a sunless tanner as very little of it absorbs into the skin (2). Just keep it away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Erythrulose is another common ingredient in some sunless tanning products. It works similar to DHA but takes a little longer to achieve similar effects (3).
Once your skin is bronzed, the color lasts from 3 to 10 days without further treatments.
Exfoliating and shaving will remove your “tan,” but moisturizing will help it last longer.
Are There Any Risks to Sunless Tanning?
A few people may experience dry, itchy skin or a rash when using products with DHA. But it might not be the DHA causing the problem as much as the artificial fragrances or preservatives in the formula (4).
Also, DHA increases free radicals in the skin for the first 24 hours after it’s applied. (Free radicals cause signs of premature aging like wrinkles.)
These two issues underline the importance of using sunscreen and a moisturizer with antioxidants when you self-tan (5).
Now that you’re well-informed let’s look at the top self tanners for pale skin.
St. Tropez Gradual Tan Mousse
St. Tropez makes some of the best sunless tanning products on the market.
You won’t have to worry about streaks or turning orange. The color won’t rub off on your clothes or the sheets.
For best results, though, they recommend that you use an applicator mitt. A mitt helps you get even coverage and protects your hands from getting stained.
Their Gradual Tan Mousse is ideal for fair skin as the bronze color deepens little by little.
Plus, it’s mild enough to use every day. And it’s free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.
How to Apply Self Tanner
Let’s take a little detour for a moment to explain how to use self-tanner.
Regardless of which product you choose, these seven steps apply.
- First, shave and exfoliate. Use a loofah and do a little extra scrubbing on areas that are dry like elbows and knees.
- Second, let your skin dry for 10 to 15 minutes before you apply the sunless tanner.
- Third, rub on the product with long sweeping motions. Began at your ankles or wrists and work your way upward and inward. Use a small amount of the leftover product on your hands and feet.
- Fourth, let your skin dry thoroughly before you dress. This may take anywhere from 60 seconds to a few minutes.
- Fifth, don’t shower or sweat if you can help it for the next 4 to 8 hours. (This step is why many people apply self tanner right before bed.)
- Sixth, once your skin has dried, you can apply moisturizer or sunscreen. Applying lotion each day will keep your skin from quickly shedding the color.
- Seventh, if you exfoliate every couple of days, it will help keep your pores from looking like little dark spots. You can also scrub excess color from kneecaps and so on. Then apply more sunless tanner to maintain your bronze or deepen it.
Those tips will help you stay tan for as long as you like. Now let’s get back to the reviews.
St. Tropez Self Tan Express Advanced Bronzing Mousse
The Advanced Bronzing Mousse may be the best self tanner for fair skin with freckles. That’s because it gives you strict control over how dark your tan gets.
After one hour, you’ll appear sun-kissed. If you shower at that point, the color will stop changing.
After two hours or more, you’ll progress from medium to dark.
Also important, the pleasant fragrance disguises the awkward self tan smell.
Like other products from St. Tropez, this one is free of sulfates, phthalates, and parabens. The DHA comes from natural sources.
St. Tropez Self Tan Starter Kit
If you’re not sure where to start, you can’t go wrong with this little kit. It comes with the classic mousse, an applicator mitt, and tools to prep and maintain your skin for tanning.
Just keep in mind that it’s travel-size for only a handful of applications.
Skinerals Californium Self Tanner – Sunless Tanning Mousse
Skinerals says that their self tanner will keep you bronze for up to a week after you apply it. It’s vegan and free of sulfates and parabens.
The mousse has a mild scent and a no-mess texture that shouldn’t streak or blotch.
L’Oreal Paris Skin Care Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Water Mousse
L’Oreal makes a whole line of self tanning products. If you can only choose one, I’d recommend the mousse. It’s less messy than a lotion and provides vibrant color within 4 to 8 hours.
If you apply it three times within 24-hours, you’ll end up with a deep tan.
The formula has coconut water to hydrate your skin and to add a pleasant fragrance.
It also has a vital antioxidant, Vitamin E that protects against aging.
L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self Tanner Best Sellers Jetset Kit
The Jetset Kit includes mist, serum, and towelettes for a golden bronze when you travel.
If you apply it once a day, for three days in a row, the color lasts up to two weeks.
L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-Tanning Lotion
The tinted lotion adds a slight shimmer to your skin while it deepens your color. The mild amount of DHA means you can enjoy this product every day to maintain your tan.
For best results, apply only a thin layer to ankles, elbows, and knees. Then don’t forget to wash your hands.
Beauty by Earth Self Tanner & Tanning Mitt Set
If you’re wary of chemicals, you’ll appreciate this self tanner. It’s based on organic ingredients like aloe and shea butter. Even the DHA comes from sugar cane.
If you decide to try it, it comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
The kit includes an exfoliating mitt, and applicator mitt, and the self tanning cream.
Furthermore, the formula is rich in moisturizing ingredients that protect and nourish your skin.
Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse for Body, Light Bronze
Which is the best drugstore self tanner for pale skin? I nominate Jergens Natural Glow. It’s cheap, and you can choose from Light Bronze or Deep Bronze.
The mousse makes sure you do a good job because it has a little tint to help you see where you’ve applied it.
It also has a clean fragrance.
Jergens Natural Glow Oil-Free Daily Moisturizer for Face with SPF 20
Are you looking for a self tanner for your face? Try this one from Jergens because it’s a moisturizer with broad-spectrum sunscreen.
It protects against sunburn and the breakdown of collagen that causes wrinkles.
Additionally, it’s available in two shades: fair to medium and medium to tan.
Jergens Natural Glow In-shower Moisturizer, Fair to Medium Skin Tone
Believe it or not, you can speed up the process by self-tanning in the shower.
But only if you use Jergens Natural Glow moisturizer.
When I say “speed up,“ I mean there’s no waiting for your skin to dry. Instead, you apply the moisturizer to wet skin before you use a towel. Rub it in with circular motions, then wash your hands.
Interestingly, once you pat dry, it shouldn’t stain your towel.
Jergens Natural Glow +FIRMING Body Lotion, Fair to Medium Skin Tone
Finally, there’s a body lotion with skin firming properties. It doesn’t have a high concentration of DHA or erythrulose, so it creates gradual color.
At the same time that it tans you, it also makes wrinkles and cellulite less noticeable.
Some of the highlights include green tea, collagen, and elastin.
Unfortunately, the formula also has parabens, petrolatum, mineral oil, and an artificial fragrance.
Tan Physics True Color Sunless Tanner
Fans of this product say that it builds to a gorgeous golden glow. It also moisturizes well enough to replace your regular lotion on the days you use it.
On the downside, even though it has a light citrus fragrance, the scent isn’t strong enough to mask the self-tanning odor.
Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tanning Liquid
It has a cheesy name, but Fake Bake keeps its promises. It contains DHA, erythrulose, and DMI to bronze your skin within 4 to 6 hours. It even comes with an applicator mitt.
The tropical scent and the lack of parabens make this product doubly appealing.
Fake Bake Flawless Coconut Tanning Serum
You can use the Fake Bake serum on your face or your body. It has silk amino acids and coconut oil which cause it to melt into your skin. The addition of hyaluronic acid boosts moisture, too.
Take note that it contains a “guide” color – this is a slight tint to help you distinguish the skin you’ve already treated. It washes off in warm water once you’ve achieved the desired skin tone.
COOLA Organic Sunless Tan Body Lotion | SPF 50
One of the best sunless tanners for your face is COOLA’s organic lotion. But feel free to use it on your body, too.
The certified organic ingredients nourish your skin to make it feel softer and look younger. It has caffeine from green coffee beans, brown algae, and pea extract.
Neutrogena Micromist Airbrush Sunless Tanning Spray
Experience a spray tan in the comfort of your own home with Neutrogena’s Micromist. This little can is designed to provide perfect results like an airbrush spray.
You won’t need to rub in the liquid at all.
One con is that it takes up to five minutes to dry. And another is that the formula has parabens.
Self Tanner For Face Sunless Tanning Serum by GOLDEN STAR BEAUTY
Here’s a self-tanning serum that comes with a money-back guarantee. It’s vegan and made in the USA without parabens, dyes, or gluten.
A glance at the label reveals that it has several ingredients that promote youthful skin. For example, it has evening primrose, rosehip, and avocado oils plus calendula, meadowsweet, and aloe.
Self -Tanning Lotion w/Organic & Natural Ingredients by GOLDEN STAR BEAUTY
It’s also possible to self-tan your body with organic ingredients and without parabens, dyes, or gluten.
This lotion has certified organic ingredients like aloe and argan oil. The plant oils absorb without feeling sticky or greasy. They also won’t clog pores.
Tan Towel Light
Skip the creams, lotions, mousses, sprays, and serums. Use Tan Towel instead. It’s like bronzing yourself with wet wipes.
The liquid on the wipes is clear and won’t leave you with streaks if you follow the directions. It dries in under a minute.
The mild fragrance disguises the typical self-tanning odor, too.
Sally Hansen Air Brush Legs Light Glow
My final pick is one of the best sunless tanners for legs. It’s a spray that’s like makeup for your legs. It’s resistant to water, and it won’t rub off on your clothes. The coverage disguises freckles and varicose veins.
I hope I helped you find your new favorite self tanner today.
These sunless tanning products are straightforward to use and very convenient.
They can help you look fabulous for a special event or any day of the week.
Let me know which ones you tried and how they worked for you in the comments below.
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunless_tanning accessed August 28, 2019
2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sunless-tanning/art-20046803 published May 24, 2019, accessed August 28, 2019
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erythrulose accessed August 28, 2019
4. https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/dihydroxyacetone/ by Vanessa Ngan, published 2002, accessed August 28, 2019
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunless_tanning accessed August 28, 2019