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If you have fair skin, you certainly shouldn't have to risk burning yourself to a crisp in the sun just to get a little color. Sunburns (and tanning beds, for that matter) are out and self-tanners are wholly in.
The good news? Self-tanners have come a long way in recent years, and there are several covetable options on the market that can help enhance your skin with a healthy, natural, non-orange glow—from lotions and sprays to mousse and drops.
Keep scrolling for our picks of the best self-tanners for fair skin.
Best Overall: St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Mousse
This St. Tropez mousse is one of the most sought-after self-tanning products for fair skin, both because of how naturally it develops and how beautiful its color turns out. This cult-favorite product is a clear 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 (and no stains on your sheets). 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.
What Our Testers Say
"It will give your skin an even, vibrant, streak-free look." — Leigh Weingus, Product Tester
Best Mousse: Isle of Paradise Light Self Tanning Mousse
A newcomer on the scene, Isle of Paradise has 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 Drops: Tan-Luxe The Body
Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin and oil often found in anti-oxidant blend topicals or moisturizers. It also helps soothe the skin and protects the lipid barrier.
Tan-Luxe's self-tanning formula can be used with any moisturizer you like, so you don't have to sacrifice your usual routine. Just a few drops of this formula, which contains raspberry seed oil and Vitamin E, is all it takes to turn a regular body cream into a tanning cream. Plus, it's totally customizable—the more drops you use, the darker the tan will be. This is perfect for people with fair skin who want a slight tan but are worried about overdoing it.
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—it lasts up to three days. 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 Budget: Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturize
As far as drugstore self-tanners are concerned, Jergens formulas are tried-and-true staples. We love this option, which is designed for fair to medium skin tones, because it's super easy to use. Just apply it on wet skin, wash your hands, pat it dry before getting dressed, and go about your day—no waiting around or rinsing required. Plus, it won't leave any streakiness behind.
Best with SPF: Supergoop! Healthy Glow Sunless Tan Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
Many self-tanners give you a sun-kissed glow but don't actually protect you from the sun. That's not the case with this two-in-one Supergoop spray, which delivers broad-spectrum SPF 40 protection and a buildable, long-lasting tan. Plus, with ingredients like vitamin E and vitamin B5 (which are hydrating and anti-inflammatory), you can even use this product instead of your moisturizer on days when you want to look bronzed AF.
Best Scent: Omorovicza Glam Glow
Jojoba oil is a natural oil produced from the seed of the Chinensis plant, a drought-resistant shrub native to southern Arizona, California, and Mexico. It mimics natural sebum and conditions and seals moisture in the skin without clogging pores or exacerbating acne.
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.
Best Gradual: Tan-Luxe The Gradual Illuminating Gradual Tan Lotion
This oil-lotion hybrid tans the skin gradually, which makes it especially perfect for those with pale skin. Its formula is also super hydrating (thanks to ingredients like raspberry seed oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera) and it reduces the appearance of cellulite via the brand's proprietary Cellutone Complex. TL;DR: For a soft, natural glow, reach for this product.
Best Towlettes: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Body
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 eight 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 Self Tanning Instant 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. To prevent any darkening on your palms, 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.
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.
Best Deep Tan: Tarte Brazilliance 2HR Express Deep Foaming Self-Tanner
Achieving a deep sunless tan that doesn't look orange can be tough, especially if you have fair skin. Fortunately, with this self-tanning mousse from Tarte, you don't have to worry about that. Just apply it in the comfort of your own home, sit tight for two hours, and rinse to reveal a dark but natural-looking tan. Plus, ingredients like aloe leaf juice, jojoba seed oil, and coconut oil leave the skin soft and smooth.