We Tried the Drugstore Dupe for TikTok’s Favorite Self-Tanner

It gives the same sun-kissed glow, for less than half the price.

self tanner selfies

DESIGN BY CRISTINA CIANCI

In my experience, self-tanners usually fall in the same beauty category as bangs, DIY manicures, and intricate eyeliner: easy in theory, but difficult in execution.

Despite trying my fair share of formulas over the years, I could never find a self-tanner that checked all of my boxes. My main requirements were a natural-looking finish, long-lasting results, and an easy application process; basically, I was looking for a unicorn of a product. 

I had all but given up on my dreams of a sun-kissed, damage-free glow—until, as per usual these days, TikTok came to my rescue. While scrolling through the app, I came across a review of the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops ($14), a new self-tanning product that promised to deliver a natural-looking, streak-free tan without the hassle—application mitts, drying time—that comes with other offerings. 

L'Oreal Paris Self Tanning Facial Drops
L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops $14
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The reigning self-tanner of choice on TikTok is, of course, the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops ($29). The #selftanner hashtag is full of glowing reviews for both tanners. However, users say the L’Oreal drops are a near-perfect dupe—and at $14, they ring in at less than half the price.

It’s surprisingly easy to fall down the #selftanner hole, and I was convinced that this drugstore offering could be the solution to my faux tan woes. Keep scrolling to learn more about the self-tanning drops, and to read our honest reviews.

L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops

Best for: All skin types

Uses: A self-tanner for sun-free, natural glow

Price: $14

Byrdie Clean: Yes

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid

About the Brand: L’Oréal Paris is a global beauty brand that focuses on offering luxury products at affordable price points to the masses.

The Application

Anyone who has dabbled in self-tanning knows how much room there is for user error. If you don’t apply, blend, and let the formula dry correctly, it’s all too easy to end up with a streaky, uneven tan that’s surprisingly difficult to remove

The L’Oréal Paris Self-Tanning Facial Drops, however, take the guesswork out of the process. You simply add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer, and smooth evenly over your face and neck. Mixing the formula in with a moisturizer makes the application process unbelievably easy, since you can see exactly where you’re applying and avoid missing any spots.

The product is also completely customizable—you can add more or less drops to your moisturizer depending on how deep you want the color to be. For a natural, sun-kissed glow, the brand recommends starting with 5-7 drops; for a deeper tan, add 8-10 drops. 

Don't forget to smooth the remaining tanner over your earlobes and upper ears.

The Formula

One of the elements TikTok reviewers rave about the most is the fact that the drops don’t have a discernible smell. Unlike a lot of other tanning products on the market, it’s fragrance-free, so there’s no unpleasant, traditional self-tanner scent upon application. The formula also includes hyaluronic acid for an added dose of moisture, so it won’t dry you out like other self-tanners.

The Reviews

Holly Rhue, Editor

self tanner before and after

HOLLY RHUE/ DESIGN BY CRISTINA CIANCI

I love the way this product gave my skin some warmth and color literally overnight, but I clearly didn’t disperse the product evenly (as you can see, my cheeks look more tan, but the rest of my face looks the same). Once you’ve mixed the drops into your moisturizer of choice, I recommend dotting the cocktail all over your face so you can ensure a more even application. I was so excited to try this product that I just kind of smeared it onto my face like I would with any moisturizer. This is totally just user error, and I think the outcome would have been amazing if I was a little more intentional about the application—just looked at that gorgeous bronze, not-orange color on my cheeks.

Karli Bendlin, Senior Editor

self tanner before and after

KARLI BENDLIN/ DESIGN BY CRISTINA CIANCI

As someone who’s not too keen on reading instructions, I was excited to see that the application process for the drops was pretty simple. Unlike some other tanning products I’ve used, which involved extensive exfoliation, test patches, and a post-application shower, this one doesn’t require any extra steps. I just mixed a few drops in with my moisturizer and applied it on my skin like I normally do. 

Within a few hours, my skin exhibited a subtle wash of color, but it wasn’t the fresh-off-the-beach glow I was hoping for. However, after applying the drops again the next day, it became clear to me why the product went viral. As you can see in the photos, my tan developed much more after the second application, but still looked natural—like I had gone for a casual stroll on the beach, rather than sat baking in the sun. 

If you’re a self-tanning connoisseur who expects a deep bronze from their products, this might not be the self-tanner for you. But for anyone looking for more subtle, sun-kissed results, the ease of application for these drops can’t be beat.

Madeline Hirsch, Senior News Editor

self tanner before and after

MADELINE HIRSCH/ DESIGN BY CRISTINA CIANCI

I gave up hope on self-tanner years ago. Rather than risk looking orange, my skin (and myself) were resigned to a pale, full life lived in hats and SPF. So when I saw the reviews of this products claiming to deliver a natural-looking glow I was intrigued. To keep myself honest, I took my testing photos in the same lighting (and wearing the same highlighter and mascara). After a few drops, my skin definitely did look more sun-kissed, but I still felt like myself. For me, that’s an ideal scenario. Plus, I love that this product goes on like a serum, so you can mix it with your morning moisturizer.

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