Unless you live in a tropical location all year round (can we be friends?), you are familiar with pale girl season. Just as the leaves start falling outside, our summer glow fades away, and it only gets worse as the winter months roll on. For most of us, we trade in our shorts for leggings and our tank tops for sweaters, so it doesn’t matter all that much that our tan is long gone. But then you decide to wear a dress with a high slit to a winter wedding and realize woah I really need to tan my legs. This is the kind of predicament we find ourselves in time and time again during pale girl season, but what’s a girl to do? Enter: self-tanners.
Self-tanners must check most, if not all, of these boxes to even be worth your time at all: a tolerable smell, long-lasting, won’t stain your sheets, streak-free, and easy to apply. Here are the self-tanners we love and trust to get the job done right all season long:
Create a natural looking, hydrated, and golden tan by mixing these drops with your favorite body moisturizer or cream. Since the product comes as a concentrate in a dropper form, you can customize your tan—making it as subtle or as dark as you want. Raspberry seed oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera will help hydrate your cold-weather skin, which will make your skin appear even more glowy.
This self-tanning cream comes in either a rosewood or santal scent, so it gives spa vibes from the start. But what we love about it is that it's infused with shea butter, cocoa butter, and passion fruit oil, so it leaves the skin dewy and bronzey. Plus, it's non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free.
If you're looking for an easy-to-apply, clean formula, this is the one for you. This tanning foam contains naturally derived ingredients to soothe, firm, and hydrate skin. It doesn't require rinsing, but if you wait longer to shower, the color will get darker, giving you complete control over how it deepens. We love that it applies clear to prevent transfer, too!
Looking to get tan in a pinch? Count on this express mousse which develops into a dark tan and can be washed off after just two hours. To prevent transfer of the mousse, just wait until you are completely dry before getting dressed! Soon enough, you'll have a natural tan that lasts for days. It's a cult favorite for a reason—trust us!
This self-tanning water has been tested and approved by dermatologists and is non-comedogenic (which means it doesn't contain any pore-clogging ingredients), so it is safe for even the most sensitive skin girls. That's hard to find in a good self-tanner! Plus, it has ingredients that will up the ante of your tan including aloe vera for hydration, pink grapefruit for skin brightening, and juniper for evening skin tone.
This vegan and cruelty-free option is perfect for girlies with a darker complexion or anyone who simply wants a deeper tan. The lightweight foam is infused with aloe vera for its hydration and soothing properties and coconut so you smell like you just left the beach. We'll take that any day of the week in the depths of winter.
This gradual self-tanner checks a lot of boxes: suitable for all skin tones, easy to apply, natural-looking, clean ingredients, great scent, and doesn't transfer. Whether you're new to the self-tan game or not, a gradual tanner is the perfect option to keep up your glow for days on end. Aloe, hyaluronic acid, and cucumber extract will leave your skin soft while the product gets to work.
If choosing a self-tanner shade makes you nervous, we don't blame you. How dark is dark anyways? Well, this tanner has color guide technology which will tailor the perfect tan to your skin tone—problem solved. It is long-lasting and contains ingredients like chamomile extract to soothe, coffee seed extract for antioxidants, and pomegranate extract for rejuvenation. And with all of that said, of course it smells good too.