If you're after a tanned face but can't be bothered to strip off and start buffing tanning mousse up and down your entire body (we feel you), heed our advice. Unless you want to look as though you've had a head transplant, it's vital you don't just pick out any old facial tanner—for this job, only the most natural, authentic-looking, glow-inducing products will do.
We've collated a list of the best fake tans for the face that we regularly rely on, but before we share the intel, note the following points: Tanning your face requires tanning your neck, too, lest you come out looking patchy. Plus, like the body, a well-exfoliated complexion is vital in ensuring the finished result looks like the genuine article, as is a thorough buffing-and-blending job. Ready? Okay.
Below are the most natural-looking self-tan formulas for the face.
Pop a layer of Charlotte Tilbury's mask—the crème de la crème of facial tanning—on overnight and it develops as you sleep, so you'll wake up with a bright, gleaming bronzed face. You'll be able to notice the change in color, but it's subtle enough that streaks are nearly impossible.
Putting the control completely in your hands, you can add as many of Tan-Luxe's serum-y drops to a puddle of face cream as you want, depending on how deep you want the color to go.
These easy, breezy wipes require next to no effort. Drenched in AHAs to exfoliate and lift away the top layer of dead skin cells and debris, as well as a subtle tanning agent, they basically do the work of your skincare regimen and tanning routine in one. Use every a few days to build up a suitable glow.
Institut Esthederm's face tanner feels just like a moisturizer and contains hydrating cellular water. The real kicker, though, is that it's completely non-comedogenic, so you needn't worry about it clogging pores, even in hot, humid weather.
Not only is the gel texture of Lancôme's face tanner super refreshing, but it also provides a layer of almost juicy bronze-toned color that looks equal parts healthy and authentic.
You can actually use Isle of Paradise's Self Tanning Water all over the body, but it works especially well on the face. Green color pigments will dial down any redness, while realistic-looking tanning agents will develop into a dreamy glow over a few hours. Spritz on and be sure to gently buff around the nose, eyes, and mouth with a soft muslin cloth.
Another droplet formula, Clarin's tanner works in tandem with whatever moisturizer you're loving at the moment.
If you're looking for a noncommittal way to tan the face, try Clinique's bronzing jelly. It's more like a liquid bronzer that you can either use to contour by buffing into the hollows of the cheeks or in lieu of foundation over the entirety of the face for a tan that could easily pass as a week spent in Mykonos.
It takes some practice, but once you get the hang of St. Tropez's tanning sheet mask, it actually works really well. The key is gently patting a little of the tanning residue around the eyes and mouth—the holes in the mask mean the color doesn't make there, and you can end up with rings around your eyes.
The face just not enough for you? These self-tanners look so real no one will be able to tell the difference.