If You Have Fair Skin, These Are the Self Tanners to Use

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If you have fair skin, you certainly shouldn't have to risk turning burning yourself to a crisp in the sun just to get a little color. Sunburns (and tanning beds, for that matter,) are out, self tanners are wholly in. Self tanners have come a long way from the sitcom subject they used to be, leaving several options to help enhance skin with a healthy, natural, non-orange glow. From lotions, to mousse, to drops, find the right one for you to get that covetable glow.

Keep scrolling for our picks of the best self-tanners for fair skin.

Best Overall: St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Mousse

 St. Tropez

St. Tropez is one of the most sought after self tanning products for fair skin, both because of how naturally it develops and how beautiful the color turns out. A cult favorite, the Purity Bronzing Mousse, is a clear self tanning mousse that applies easily to the skin, dries quickly, and allows you to get dressed and go about your day with no hassle. You can apply it before bed and wake up to perfectly bronzed skin in the morning, with no concern towards the product staining your bedsheets. Over time, you'll see the color develop in a natural, subtle way. There are no messy streaks or transfer, and it doesn't smell like pure chemicals. Depending on how long your self tan lasts, you can apply this once a week and maintain with St. Tropez Gradual Tan Classic Everyday Body Lotion.

Best Drops: Tan-Luxe The Body Illuminating Self-Tan Drops in Light/Medium

Tan-luxe illuminating self-tan drops in light/medium

Tan-luxe's self tan formula can be used with any moisturizer you like, so you don't have to sacrifice your usual routine for the sake of a tan. Just a few drops of this formula, which contains raspberry seed oil and Vitamin E, are all it takes to turn a regular body cream into a tanning cream. It's totally customizable—the more drops you use, the darker the tan is. This is perfect for people with fair skin who want a slight tan, but are worried about other products overdoing it. Keep a bottle when you go on vacation, just in case you're not finding you're tan enough. 

Best Oil: COOLA Organic Sunless Tan Dry Oil Mist


This sunless tanning dry body oil is the perfect product to use when you want a light and natural glow that isn't too permanent—the formula lasts up to three days. Think of it as a quick, express treatment that is perfect for a special function or long weekend spent vacationing on the beach. The oil is a nourishing formula composed of argan oil, vitamin C, hibiscus, and chamomile extract with a delicious pina-coco scent to cover up the self tanner smell. Apply liberally to clean skin for a beautiful tan that looks chic and natural.

Best Scent: Omorovicza Glam Glow Self Tanner


A Byrdie favorite, this award winning citrus scented self tanner gives an all over natural glow for your face and body overnight in just one application. Unlike other self tanners, it also smells absolutely divine. Formulated with jojoba oil and shea butter, it nourishes and hydrates skin for an even application on the body that looks natural. Suitable for all skin types, you'll love the way your skin looks and feels, and everyone else will too. 

Pair it With: Omorovicza Gold Sugar Scrub, Omorovicza Body Cream

Best Mousse: Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Mousse in Light

Isle of Paradise self-tanning mousse in light
 Courtesy of Isle of Paradise

A newcomer on the scene, Isle of Paradise have made waves in the tanning community for their large line as well as effective products. A primary aim of their tanning mouse is "no orange tones," and they absolutely deliver. Not only is it color-corrective, but it's chock full of hydrating avocado and chia seed oils to keep your skin healthy. Safe to use on the face and body, it's free of formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, and sulfates and is 100 percent cruelty free. 

The more your skin stays hydrated, the better your tan will look and last. Be sure to apply nourishing body creams, oils, or lotions on a daily basis so skin looks smooth and supple and your tan is extended to its full potential.

Best for Travel: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Body

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Body
Courtesy of Dr. Dennis Gross 

If you like the idea of a one step application that's clean and easy, Dr. Dennis Gross's Glow Pad is perfect for you. Each box comes with 8 towelettes, each giving an even all over tan for face and body. Just take the textured, exfoliating towel out of the wrapper, and apply all over the body, starting with your legs. You can cover each area with ease, and gives the best clean up ever. All you have to do is throw the towel away, and wait until it's time for your next application to keep your color as long as possible. 

Best Gel: Clarins Instant Self Tanning Gel


If you prefer the texture of a gel self tanner over mousse or lotion, this express self tanning gel from Clarins is the perfect solution. It's lightweight, non-oily, and easily absorbs into the skin for a perfect, flawless finish and glow. Apply liberally, wash hands, and let the color begin to form all while feeling silky and smooth. 

Scared to use your bare hands? Self tanner can easily transfer onto your palms if not washed off immediately after application, which sometimes causes issues by darkening the bottom of your hands. If you feel like this is a possibility, wear latex gloves when applying self tanner all over your body, then remove them when finished and apply the tanning product to the tops of your hands only. This will keep your palms color-free, and help everything look natural.

Best for Sensitive Skin: Avéne Moisturizing Self-Tanning Silky Gel


This face and body self tanning gel is formulated with Avene Thermal Spring Water, known for its soothing and anti-irritating properties for even the most sensitive of skin types. It leaves a nice aroma and color, which looks natural, and absorbs well into the skin for no streaking. 

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