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We all know the negative effects the sun's rays can have on our skin. To protect against them, we look to long sleeves, hats, visors (you name it) and, of course, broad-spectrum sunscreen. It's true that SPF and other sun protection measures are important, but they often stop us from getting a healthy-looking, sunkissed glow. That’s where at-home self-tanners come in. Giving your skin a sunless tan can give you that extra boost of color you want without the skin damage you don't. Whether you want an immediate color that washes off in your next shower or a gradual tan that builds up subtly over time, you can find an option that works for you at an affordable price.
To that end, we found the best self-tanners at Walmart that'll make you look like you're fresh off a trip to the Caribbean.
Best Overall: Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Light Bronze Tanning Mousse
Whether you’re a self-tanning newbie or a total pro, a mousse formula is an easy way to get a natural-looking tan in no time. Just use a few pumps on each area of skin and blend it in with a tanning mitt. Like magic, the color develops over the next few hours to your perfect shade. Best of all, this formula dries in 60 seconds so you don’t have to worry about it rubbing off on your clothes or sheets. And it lasts for a few days, so it won’t wash down the drain right away.
Best Budget: Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Spray Mist Airbrush Color
You can easily shell out a ton of money on tanning products, but why do that if you don’t have to? This affordable formula is super affordable and effective. It’s formulated with aloe, so it’s soothing for skin that’s been out in the sun. And the spray nozzle makes it easy to apply at any angle—even upside down.
Thanks to the time release technology behind it, once you spray it on, it’ll continue to give you a glow for seven days, so you don’t need to keep applying it multiple times each week.
Best Lotion: Neutrogena Build-A-Tan Gradual Sunless Tanning Lotion
If an instant tan is not your speed, a lotion is a great formula to try out. This one from Neutrogena builds your color over time, so you won’t wake up the next day with a noticeable tan. After a few days of using the lotion, you’ll see a subtle glow that catches the light ever so gently. And if you want to amp up the bronze, you can just keep using it. It's really that easy. Long story short: If you want to kick your color up just a notch or two, this is a great place to start.
Best Spray: L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Mist
If you want the experience of getting a professional spray tan but without the price tag or need to visit a salon, this self-tanning mist will be your new go-to. It has a 360-degree wide angle applicator so you can get a continuous spray of product for a nice, even tan on every inch of your skin. This also means you won’t get a bunch of tanning formula on your hands, where it can settle into lines and leave behind a rusty orange cast. Not cute.
Best Towelettes: Tan Towel Half Body Towelettes
If you’re worried about trying sunless tanning because of potential streaks, these tanning wipes make it so much easier. You can apply the tan exactly where you want it and it’s formulated to work for face and body. If you need a partner to apply it to the places you can’t reach, they’re less likely to mess anything up if they’re inexperienced, it's that foolproof.
Best for Face: L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Serum
Self-tanners for the face are a bit of different beast, and the stakes are a bit higher because, well, it's your face. It's important to choose the correct formula no matter where you're applying self-tanner, but a mishap will be way more noticeable on your face compared to your ankles—no doubt about that.
Here's what you need to know: The pH of body skin is different from the pH of facial skin, and the color in self-tanning products develops differently depending on the pH. If you apply the same product to your face and your body, that color may turn out darker or more orange on your face, which isn’t ideal. But if you don't want to buy two separate products for face and body, reach for this tanning serum that's safe for use in both areas. It’s streak-free and gives your complexion a natural glow that doesn’t look too dark or orange. After applying it straight for three days, the results will last about two weeks.
Interested in reading more reviews? Peep our picks of the best self-tanners you can buy today.
Best for Legs: Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Leg Makeup
Admittedly, this formula isn’t technically a self-tanner, it’s body makeup. But it’s a product that celebrities and makeup artists swear by for getting a one-night-only color that looks amazing on your legs, whether you’re in a dress or walking on the beach in a bikini.
It’s a water-resistant formula, so it won’t run off like foundation or other kinds of makeup. The makeup only comes off when you scrub it in the shower. It sprays on flawlessly to make your legs look airbrushed without looking unnatural or cakey. So, if you’ve got veins or scars you want to cover up, or you just want a little extra glow, this is a great option.
Best for Olive Skin: Fake Bake Flawless Self Tan Liquid
For beautiful olive skin tones, the last thing you want is a fake, orangey tan. This liquid self-tanner gives a natural golden glow instead. It comes with a mitt, so you can blend it all over for a streak-free finish. Reviewers say the product is scent-free and that it gives a nice glowy tan.
Best for Dark Skin: Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion Deep Dark Color
If you want a deeper glow than you already have, this lotion is a great choice. It gives you color right away unlike some other lotion formulas. According to users, it gives off more color than many other formula’s they’ve tried, which is great for people with deeper skin tones who haven’t been able to find a self-tanner that has worked for them to date.
Best for Fair Skin: Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
If you have very fair skin, jumping into the self-tanner world can be scary. One day you’re super pale and then next you can end up looking like you’re covered in Cheetos dust. That’s why a gradual tanning formula is a good choice for fair skin. It never just turns your skin tone a totally different color; it enhances it slowly. Depending on how often you apply it, you can control how dark you want your tan to go. This one is formulated with vitamin E and antioxidants to keep your skin healthy and hydrated while you wear it.
Still can't find what you're looking for? Our guide to the best drugstore self-tanners can help.